Friday, March 20, 2015

Resiliency Through Challenging Times

I have often told patients that it would be nice if we could isolate them from the rest of the world when they began their time under Upper Cervical Care, so as not to have other issues arise independent of what their bodies need to do to get them back on an even keel. 

Everyone can relate to that.  If you’re an expecting mother and your toddler decides that they don’t want to go to bed at night anymore, forcing you to remove the afternoon nap from his/her schedule – the same nap used as “mommy time” – then it would be wonderful if stressors were not accumulating throughout the rest of your life during the transition.  If you’re planning to retire and you need to work just one more year to reach that point, then the last thing you want is a knee replacement that forces you to take time away that could have been spent inching one step closer to your career finish line.  If you’re starting a new business and your primary focus should be on letting people know what you offer, then weeks at a time trying to get a bank to loan you money gets in the way.  The bottom line is that the ideal scenario for anyone who needs to commit to one major thing is not to have several other extraneous things getting in the way. 

Unfortunately, we are rarely afforded the ideal circumstance, as true for a healing process as it is for anything else.  If we could lock ourselves in a bubble for one month and focus only on the things that we need to do in order to get well, then we would regain our health much faster.  So, how do we navigate the waters of our respective paths toward wellness when, odds are, there are going to be a few things that pile up on our plates while we’re on that journey? 

There is a basic framework that we can operate within to give ourselves the best chance to succeed – to lay a solid foundation to build ourselves into our best possible versions while life’s challenges are being thrown at us. 

It starts with the right attitude.  Resilience is defined as battling back from adversity to become stronger than you were before adversity struck.  One of the characteristic traits of resilient people is their positive outlooks on life.  Napoleon Hill, who worked with some of the most successful people of the early 20th century to discover their commonalities, wrote that “Your mind has a secret invisible talisman [lucky charm]. On one side is emblazoned the letters PMA (positive mental attitude) and on the other the letters NMA (negative mental attitude). A positive attitude will naturally attract the good and the beautiful. The negative attitude will rob you of all that makes life worth living.”

We cannot let challenges defeat us.  We’re going to be tested, but what defeats us is not the challenges, themselves, but our attitude toward them.  People who are genuinely grounded in their faith offer us templates for to make perception work in our favor.  When they encounter a rough patch, notice how they accept it as part of their journey and move strongly forward to the next phase. 

Consider, also, that it is much easier to maintain a good attitude if we take the time to gain perspective of our situations.  Famous French philosopher, Pascal, once wrote that “All of man’s problems could be solved if he could just learn to sit alone in a room with himself for an hour.”  Amen to that.  We are bombarded daily with so much information, but rarely do we take the time necessary to process and assimilate it.  That extends to health, especially to our patients, who can vouch for the fact that we do not go easy on the education.  We try to counteract the barrage of allopathic/pharmaceutical information with a steady dose of the holistic mindset.  So, it is wise to find quiet moments to relax your mind. 

“When you connect to the silence within you, that is when you can make sense of the disturbance going on around you,” says Stephen Richards, who has written many books on the power of the mind.  Meditation is the common practice suggested by the natural health community to quiet the mind, but I know from speaking with many of you that said term has a negative connotation.  Well, really meditation is just contemplation; a fancy way of saying “sit down and think.”  We could all benefit from sitting down to think.  People of faith have a natural outlet for it (prayer), again offering us a pattern to follow. 

I get it.  I’ve always been open and honest with you about my own life and the challenges that I have, partly in hopes that you can see that just because you know the path doesn’t mean that you won’t find a winding road to travel while walking the path.  We have another baby on the way in two months and our 2 ½ year old daughter has been as challenging as she has ever been.  She was the inspiration for the nap time comment made in the second paragraph.  Her developing immune system was exposed to some sort of virus that she got over in a day, but which knocked me down hard for most of a week, thanks in large part to my being run down because the snow days knocked my office schedule into chaos.  The week before the snow storms began, my front office computer went down on the same day that my garage door wouldn’t lift.  Sometimes, it seems like it’s just one thing after another.

Each of the five essentials of healthy living – normal function, proper nutrition, structural balance, stress management, and physical activity – are important aspects of going with life’s flow (especially while trying to regain your health once you’ve lost it); they all work together to shape what your road to well-being actually looks like.  Body chemistry and hormonal balance is governed by the quality of your food, the basic activity that produces hormones is governed by your brainstem and nerve system, structural balance is largely responsible for physical well-being, and exercise keeps your structural frame durable and strong.  However, your attitude is arguably the most pertinent to today’s topic.  Thinking well makes it easier for you to be well.  Taking time to think better allows you to think well. 

Thinking good things for all of you,

Dr. Chad

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Putting Your Mind at Ease About the Measles

Disclaimer - The information in this newsletter should not be interpreted as medical advice for any condition.  Dr. McIntyre is a licensed healthcare professional, but this column is intended only to make you aware and to make you think.  The primary sources cited in this article are the websites for the Center for Disease Control, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Vaccine Information Center.

Last December, a family visited Disneyland.  According to officials, one of them had the Measles virus.  Over one hundred others received the same diagnosis in the months that followed and ongoing media frenzy has ensued.

Television has a way of dramatizing even the most objective story.  Stripping away the sensationalism, the real question is: should we be concerned about the Measles?

There are 319 million people in the United States.  150 people have had the Measles, thus far, in 2015 and 644 people had the Measles last year; an infinitesimally small percentage of the American population.  To put that into perspective, between 16 and 64 million people (5-20% of US residents) are diagnosed with seasonal Flu viruses each year.  The number of new Measles cases has been waning since the first week in February and, of those already reported, none led to deaths.  In fact, there have been no deaths from Measles in the United States in 15 years. 

The symptoms of the Measles are of the variety comparable to a bad cold, with a characteristic rash being the defining characteristic that separates it from other viral infections.  Basically, it makes you feel really lousy for several days, much like with the Flu, and then you get over it. 

Considering that it is a virus that primarily attacks the developing immune systems of younger children, it is perfectly reasonable for parents to be alarmed by what they are seeing on the news.  However, the situation has been over exaggerated.  One California Pediatrician was even quoted as saying that “Our nightmare would be for someone to show up at our door with the measles.”  Such an attitude has helped create unwarranted fear throughout the public and suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of the virus.  Even at its height over five decades ago, the Measles was responsible for just 500 deaths in 500,000 diagnosed cases per year (0.001%).  Can the Measles be dangerous?  Yes, but not to the degree that should elicit widespread panic.  If you evaluate what the Measles does rather than what it can do, you will find very little reason to worry. 

A simple evaluation of the situation reasonably leads to the conclusion that we can breathe easy.
Perhaps of greater concern is of how the Measles coverage has fanned the flames of a larger issue.  Inevitably, when there are numerous cases reported about conditions for which the general population receives a vaccination, the story shifts to the modern argument between those who vaccinate and those who do not.  A recent CNN poll revealed that 80% of American parents believe that vaccinations should be mandatory and that 60% believe that unvaccinated children should be banned from public school and daycare.  This article is not intended to draw a line in the sand and pick a side.  Contrary to popular opinion, the vaccine debate is not that black and white and, as such, is a broader topic for another day.  This article does, however, support the parental right to choose whether or not to vaccinate.  It also supports the ethical ideal of informed consent between patients and their doctors, meaning that patients get to choose what treatments are administered based on verbal and written facts about the risks and benefits. 

Many a debate should be had in regards to vaccines, but emotions often run too high (thanks in no small part to the media) for this debate not to devolve into a knockdown, drag out argument.  Hopefully, a little bit of perspective on the matter will ease the minds of anxious readers and allow cooler heads to prevail.  We have the capacity to rise above and have genuine discussions on such pressing matters. 

It might help if the two opposing sides better understood the other’s choices.  It would also be beneficial for both sides to recognize that there are more than two views.  Since much of the fervor surrounding the Measles cases has centered on the so-called “anti-vaccine movement,” though, it is important to point out to the pro-vaccine group that there are still very real concerns about the safety of vaccines.    

Thousands of severe reactions are reported to the CDC each year which have resulted in prolonged hospitalization, permanent disability, or death.  Many reactions never get reported, with some sources stating that they are “grossly underreported.”  The fact, though, is that adverse reactions happen.  $3 billion have been paid out to victims of adverse reactions to vaccines.  Yahoo Parenting published an article in February that detailed the stories of some of these victims.  The daughter of Dr. Susan Lawson, for instance, was left with permanent brain damage after receiving the MMR vaccine.  She had previously had the utmost faith in medicine, but after seeing her child become a toddler for life “felt shocked, bewildered, and guilty” by her vaccine experience.  “Like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects,” said a CDC spokesperson to the author of the article.  The MMR vaccine, in addition to adverse reactions, has been responsible for over 100 deaths since 2000. 

Scientists are unable to prove that a definitive connection exists between vaccines and so many of the potential adverse effects, but rarely are they also able to prove that a connection does not exist.  The fine print states that “the evidence is inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship.”  No two people are exactly the same, so we may never know with 100% certainty that vaccines are or are not safe.  Thus, there may always be a debate. 

As you can see, this current Measles situation is not as extreme as it may seem, which means that our response to it does not need to be extreme either.  Using the recent Measles scare as a platform to condemn parents who choose not to vaccinate is without merit.  It certainly should not be used as a way to lobby for stripping patients of informed consent under the guise of “public health” needs. 

Upper Cervical Perspective: No matter your position on vaccines, the true issue at hand is immunity.  If you are concerned about infection, in general, there are things that you can do to build a strong immune system on your own.  Upper Cervical Care ensures the basic, neurologic component, connecting the brainstem to the brain and glands that govern immune response.  Eating your fruits and vegetables, of course, is extremely important, too.  Being active helps; keeping your body moving.  The less stress the better, as well, so if you need support in this area then make sure that you get it.  On that note, surround yourself with positive people, places, and things; it will help you keep stress manageable.  Essential oils offer a natural alternative to symptom depressing drugs and is actually a true "preventative medicine." 

Thinking good things for you, as always,

Dr. Chad