The intestines are just one long continuous tube of pasta piled into the abdominal cavity with freedom to slither and contract and move around to squeeze their contents along the path. Until something causes these loops to get stuck together, like a drying-out bowl of spaghetti.
Once upon a time, there was an era when the doctor and the patient had a direct clinical, personal, and financial transaction with each other. Gone are the days of the trust, respect, and responsibilities that accompany such a direct relationship.
So, what is a “hernia”?
It’s actually more something that a “thing” does rather than the thing itself. Briefly, a hernia is when one “thing” or structure in the body moves, slides, bulges, protrudes, or otherwise escapes its normal anatomical confines and encroaches on another space.
Often, absent a physical model to show a person, I find myself straining to give a verbal description to the suffering patient, so that he or she might better understand that lancinating electrical shock that radiates down their arm or leg. This usually degenerates into a quasi-artistic and ersatz modern-dance-physical-demonstration of the vertebral column.
Those who see me and know me in the office know that my focus has always been on prevention and wellness. And I try to practice what I preach. But can I also show them by example how to die or to deal with disabling or painful illness? The life of the body, no matter how hard one works at it, will end.
Dr. Banov was, perhaps, the kindest, most astute, most compassionate doctor and teacher of the art of “beside manner” that I have ever met. If I haven’t said this before in a previous blog, I must now tell you another term for “bedside manner” that I am fond of using. It’s that ability to make people feel better by just being with them. I would like to take credit now for coining the term: “therapeutic presence”. Dr. Banov had it.
Many years ago I had the great pleasure of sitting at the feet (not literally) of Dr. Denis Burkitt a great physician/surgeon, recipient of the highest international medical awards, Christian missionary and teacher, and renowned medical scholar, whose epidemiological studies in Africa led, among other things to the first links between viral disease and the development of some types of cancer. His mapping of the incidence of a particular tumor in children across parts of Africa led to the connection between it and the spread of a virus, probably via insect bites. The tumor bears his name: Burkitt’s Lymphoma.
He is further known for changing the way the West looks at dietary health, being among the first to point out the dangers of refined carbohydrates and the benefits of foods rich in dietary fiber. I remember his lecture on the topic to this day and believe I have repeated portions of it to thousands of patients over the last thirty years.
I can treat this patient with an anti-depressant plus an anti-anxiety drug to treat the chemistry of his or her brain. This person will likely feel and function better. But if they don’t start to learn new patterns of thinking (that is a spiritual process), and continue to dwell on old hurts, losses, suffering, fears, the anxiety and depression will persist, or return. No amount of medication will cure a person who willfully refuses to seek change.
Now to take the complementary view of the “mind”. Here we deal with something spiritual, not physical.
Science has demonstrated that living tissues (especially those of the brain) DIE from lack of oxygen. The definition of death, technically, is “cessation of cellular respiration.” Respiration means “breathing”. Breathing requires “air”. Air is Life.
So, again, I dare you to show it to me this thing called “the mind” so we can all see it, define it, quantify it, study it, and treat it. Thus we can properly define and seek to cure this thing we call “mental” illness.
This is not to say that we can’t tell a lot about someone’s “mind”, but this we can do only indirectly. The contents of one’s thoughts, ideas, expressions, choices, actions, etc. tell us about the “mind” but they are not “the mind”. To direct some type of therapy to any one “thing” that is a “mind” is not like treating a lung or a liver or a pancreas.
If we didn’t pay attention to anything else about your health than cardiovascular disease risk reduction and prevention, we would still be doing you the best all-around service. Because if we are tracking and reducing your risk of vascular disease, we will also bring in reduced risk of diabetes, arthritis and degenerative joint disease, and even cancer. A healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle changes everything.
Who is the primary enemy of your own health?
Your environment? Your job? Your family? Stress?
Hate to tell you -or maybe not – It’s you.
The Apostle Paul wisely observed that our bodies are the “Temple of the Holy Spirit”. He goes on to say that to abuse or destroy that temple leads to a more drastic form of destruction (of the soul).
the topics of my blogs are actual conversations with patients