Words can cut like a knife – leaving deep wounds and scars….

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At this past weekend’s Scar Tissue Release, class we were fortunate to have a Registered Nurse volunteer as the demonstration client. She was incredibly generous with her feedback on what she was experiencing during the treatment and answered questions for the students. Two of her scars were from 18 & 20 year old C-sections, respectively. As she told us the stories of the surgeries, the conversation turned to the trauma, both physical and emotional that the events caused.

Apparently, as the surgeons were preparing to cut her open, they were busy discussing their golf game. The surgerical nurse stopped the banter and gave them a what for. Just think how you would feel at that moment, laying on a cold operating table, about to have your abdomen sliced open in order to bring your child into the world, being denied the experience of natural birth. As she told her story, you could see that even after 18 years, she was still very emotional about it.

Since she is a cardiac recovery nurse, I took the opportunity to emphasize a few points I had made during the class lecture. Specifically how “donor” sites, areas where skin or veins are removed in order to repair another injured area of the body, are ignored once they have healed. When I asked her opinion on this matter, she agreed whole heartedly that no further thought is given to these areas; however, she referred to these areas as the “harvest” site.

Everyone in the room took a breath. I knew what they were all thinking as I looked at each of them. The Nurse looked around puzzled, and I explained to her that I refer to the area as a “donor” site. She thought about it for a minute and shook her head. “I never even thought of that, but you are totally right…how horrible.”

How we–doctors, therapists, trainers, family and friends–refer to someone, something, or situation sets the intent. This, in turn, dictates how we regard, and therefore treat or not treat. Most often when we think of harvesting an organ, we think of cadavers. So of course an area that was used for “harvest” does not need further care or concern.

The next day, one of my current clients was among the volunteers for the student practice session. He had burns over 2/3rds of his body from a car fire. He is one of the most balanced and centered people I know. He shared two very important points with the group. First, that he never even considered that there was any kind of restriction, much less a need for therapy, on the areas where they took skin for grafts and that he was blown away by the resulting treatment’s effects all of the areas, grafted and donor. Second, while still recovering in the hospital, a representative of a burn group came by to help him understand and deal with how his life was about to change. “How everyone was going to stare at him and treat him differently…” You can imagine the rest of the conversation. He could not believe this person was there to help him and fortunately he choose not to listen to her doom-and-gloom speech.

I had another client, a massage therapist, who, while filling out her intake form, said to me in regard to the question asking her to list all surgeries, “Well, I did have a C-Section, but I do not really consider that a surgery.” Unbelievably, she was not the first woman to make this statement to me either.

As health care providers we must take care of how we phrase our words, and just as or more importantly, we need pay attention to and assist in altering how our clients refer to themselves. The first step on the road to healing is understanding and awareness.

Law of Averages

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images (17)Who’s goal is it to be average? Average looking, of average intelligence and so forth. When it comes to social acceptance and self image the last thing anyone wants is to be considered average. Except of course when it comes to our health. Being average is actually the goal. Health is often determined or judged according to averages.

Take blood pressure for example, the average range for blood pressure is 120/80 to 110/70. Mine happens to be 90/60, I work out and am in relatively in good shape. During an annual check-up, the nurse taking my blood pressure was alarmed and said that my pressure was low. I had to explain to the nurse that if she would take the time to read my chart she would see that 90/60 is in fact normal pressure for ME. download

What would have happened if I did not know what my personal norm for blood pressure was? I may have been prescribed medication to raise my pressure, which I would most likely have taken without question, because we always listen to the Doctor in the nice white coat, right?

Our health care uses averages as it’s guidelines. Now, do not get me wrong, we need guidelines but that is all they are a guide – not the ultimate answer

images (16)I have a client, 49 year old female, who is very flexible – almost hyper-mobile. During rehab for a knee replacement the PT tested her range of motion (ROM) and noted that she had 90 degrees of hip flexion and told her “wow you have healed really well” and was satisfied with her recovery. For the average person 90 degrees of ROM is considered, sadly, as acceptable and in some cases the goal. Unfortunately for my client, her normal hip flexion ROM prior to surgery was 120 degrees. Trusting that the PT knew what he was talking about she accepted the diagnosis. Meanwhile she did not feel like “she was good to go”, again quoting the PT, and was still experiencing pain and restriction. After increasing her limited ROM and eliminating her back pain she said “I had no idea my pain was related to the knee as they said I was healed. I just thought, well this is what getting old was like”. Again she is only 49 years old. Her ROM prior to surgery should have been documented somewhere. Rehab goals should not be to achieve the average. While a surgery such as a knee replacement will present new limitations it should not be assumed that she is only ever going to be average from here on out.

images (13)Let’s look at this from another perspective. What Doctor should a female go to when the symptoms of Menopause begin? The standard answer is the Gynecologist. But why? – a Gynecologist, for all intense purposes is a plumber. Menopause is not a plumbing issue it is a hormonal one- women should be turning to an Endocrinologist for assistance with the change.
A gynecologist will most likely prescribe estrogen for all of the women who come to him/her. Here is another important time when a woman needs to know what is normal for her. All women should get a full hormonal blood work up every ten years starting when they turn 20 and put the information away until the time occurs. Then she will have a complete history of her hormones. This would be a more appropriate guide for what she personally needs as a supplement, if any, at this point in life.

It is so important that we pay attention to our bodies as well as our instincts when it comes to our health care. We need to when know something is not right for us personally. We should not blindly accept recommendations for surgery, or reasons for continuing/ending treatment. We rarely follow our instincts because we are unsure and uninformed about our own body. The more connected one is with their own body, the better prepared one is to figure out which health options are best suited for us, indidivually. Knowledge is power, combine it with understanding and confidence the result is a uniquely healthier, you. And there is nothing average about that.