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(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

I am a preexisting condition.

Look me in the face and tell me that if I have had any medical conditions in my past, you should have the right to dump my insurance coverage—or at least make me pay more–$4,000 per year, in the case of my exercise-induced asthma. This from people who might never get the health they deserve from their habits or lack of habits. They might not even exercise. While I am at yoga, Zumba, and out running, they could be sitting down on the couch with a bag of chips—but somehow I deserve to pay more?

My mom always told me life wasn’t fair, but I think she believed that most of our institutions had caring, dedicated people in them who would try to do right.

Where are they?

I don’t know, but I’ll tell you where many of the current leaders are—they’re trying to “win” a competition by passing legislation that will harm people’s finances and their everyday health—and maybe lead to their premature deaths.

These leaders are busy pandering to their base—whatever that word really means. First of all, Congress exists for all of us, not just for some “base” who voted for certain leaders. But, in a practical sense, unless this base clearly has 50% or more of our population, then these leaders are building something—healthcare, in this instance—that does not have a base that can support the weight of all those who are, what? The table top? They’ll listen to this mythical “base”—composed of people who may or may not know anything about healthcare or finances—but they won’t listen to experts from either the medical or the finance side.

And while they’re doing this, they come up with a plan to “punish” any states that chose to expand care to others—and to take away their funding and give it to states that did not provide care. So these godfathers in Congress aren’t afraid whether anyone knows that they are suggesting that anyone who disagrees with them and their base will be very, very sorry?

It’s funny, but I’ve been saying for years that part of the reason bullyproofing programs in schools have failed is because so many adults prefer to lead by bullying. You know, I have never watched reality television because I really don’t enjoy watching people play “Lord of the Flies” and ganging up to vote people off the island, and I never thought it was cool that someone could become a star for telling people they were fired.

And yet, here we are. But folks, what’s happening in Congress is not entertainment—and it isn’t entertaining. Unless, I guess, if you’re part of that base.

What all those leaders and the “fans” from their base don’t seem to get is that WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL. Yes, I’m shouting. Bad things happen, and yet we keep getting told that we need to take personal responsibility for those actions and stop thinking someone should take care of us.

Folks—we’re all one doctor’s test or what some would call “act of God” (think floods, hurricanes, fires, etc.) away from personal disaster. Unless . . . unless we set up a society that doesn’t see tragedy as something that has been set upon particular people as something they deserve while also believing that good health and prosperity also happen as something people deserve or have earned. I don’t really believe that my God’s up there throwing lightning bolts—or those floods, hurricanes, and fires—at us based on our actions—sometimes stuff happens and it’s nobody’s fault.

I’ll say it again: Bad things happen. And often the costs associated with those events are more than an individual can pay.

That’s why we come together as a society to help one another. That’s also why being in Congress is called serving for a reason. Being elected to such a role is supposed to be about more than doing whatever it takes to prove your team is winning—no matter the costs.

These leaders are just living in blind ignorance that one day that doctor’s test isn’t going to tell them health news they don’t want to hear—even if it’s a treatable condition, but something an insurer was allowed to opt out of covering. They think that a catastrophic accident will never happen to them. They don’t think it will be their kid who is born with a heart condition or who suffers from a mental illness. In fact, some of them don’t know that some woman or girl they love might be punished for the preexisting condition of being female.

Our leaders are supposed to be champions for all of us, not just for their supporters. They are supposed to do the deep studying and reading that might help them to come up with solutions to resolve big problems. Quite frankly, they’re not supposed to crumble when a bully calls them up to tell them their team needs a “win.” And, if that voice is wrong for the many of us who may or may not come from their team, they’re supposed to stand up to any forces that would pressure them to do less than what is best for the rest of us.

I am a preexisting condition and, quite frankly, most of you are also. We can’t let people who have lifetime healthcare coverage make a game out of toying with our lives. The odds of winning this game are close to nonexistent for those of us who are just pawns in this game we didn’t choose to join.

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I am heartsick at how the American Health Care Act (AHCA) was rammed through the House of Representatives this past week—on the National Day of Prayer, no less. This cruel piece of legislation was approved without the representatives even taking the time to read what it does, without their listening to professionals in the medical fields AND insurance companies, without their hearing the pleas of people all around this country who are in need—in short, without caring. The word “care” in no way belongs in the term “Trumpcare.” The message of “I don’t care” is being shouted throughout this country I already considered great—and is reverberating around the world.

And to add to my utter despair are the words that were spoken by people who voted for this travesty and by those in other positions of power.

Despite what these people would like you to believe, we do not always get what we deserve—sometimes we get more and sometimes we get much less. There is no perfect formula that says, “if you do this, then that will follow”—especially in our health matters.

I’m here today because when I was four months old, the citizens of our country still believed that when an infant falls ill from a congenital birth defect, it is our duty as a society to provide her with healthcare, and in a manner that does not bankrupt her parents.

As I grew into my teens—with no lingering effects from that early life-saving surgery—unaware that I had exercise-induced asthma, I fell in love with running (once my father stopped smoking). I would run 14 years—including four years of high school track and four years of college track—before being diagnosed with that breathing problem in a routine physical. And, yet, the only cost associated with my condition these days is for the inhaler I use to pre-treat before I do cardiovascular exercise—if I were sedentary, I would never need an inhaler, but I doubt my blood pressure numbers would be nearly so good either.

Another pre-existing condition—one leg shorter than another—something I’d been told didn’t matter when I was a 15-year-old high school athlete—turned out to make a big difference after decades of running. In my late 40s, I was so much healthier than most people my age and have the numbers to prove that from tests that were performed for buying life insurance. Most weeks I ran three times, practiced yoga three times, did Pilates once, and danced at Zumba twice—that was every week. My bulging disc came out of nowhere and was not at all related to being sedentary, as the literature our insurance company sent me seemed to imply.

I was devastated and did what I could to get better: chiropractic, physical therapy, and the exercises I’d been prescribed. At one point I was doing those exercises for an hour a day—in addition to the yoga, Pilates, Zumba, and walking I still did during the week. A good proportion of the costs associated with my healing fell on us—for every $50 copay we paid, our insurance paid the providers an additional $10 to $20.

While it was challenging for us to pay those costs and for me to take the time to work on my healing, it was not impossible. Many people must live with their pain or stop working because they cannot afford the care or to put in the focused effort to heal. These days I still put out additional money to make certain I remain healthy—I pay for neuro-muscular massage and we have purchased a new, fairly expensive (to us) mattress that also makes a difference. Not everyone has these types of resources.

When members of congress state that people earn their pre-existing conditions through bad habits, it is really insulting—both to people like me who most certainly were not poster children for the condition I developed and to people who do not have access to the resources that make it easier to stay healthy. That type of statement ignores the randomness of how disease and injury can enter the lives of anyone at any time—such as when I came into the world with a congenital defect that would try to kill me within months of my birth. It’s hard not to think that what these people are really saying is that people should just go ahead and be “selected out” if they can’t afford to treat their own medical conditions.

And then when a wealthy, older man such as Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, states that older people will need to pay higher premiums because they use insurance more and cost more, my first thought is that with his money, he can afford his health care, and, second, that We the People provide his health care—unless our level of coverage isn’t good enough for someone like him. There’s no denying that people my age and older are more expensive to cover, but do we really want to be a society that cares for only the strong?

That is an immoral position, but that’s the sort of position that creates these types of legislation and the policies behind them. When your main concerns for managing government are about determining who is a winner and who is a loser, and then making certain that you never are required to pay anything for anyone you have deemed to be a loser, then society is the real loser. What’s so great about that?

Let’s not forget that “the first shall be last and the last shall be first” thing. Besides, none of us knows the future. Just remember, “there but for the grace of God go I.”

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

My dad’s parents lived well up until their last few years and they lived long—both until 92. I didn’t know how lucky I was to have grandparents who were active and independent—even into my late 20s—before old age finally caught up with them. Before that they made annual car trips halfway across the country to visit their relatives while also being able to drive themselves to watch our sporting events or to come stay with us. Granddad didn’t retire for the final (his third) time until he was in his mid-80s.

Although their own family was small—just my dad and our family—they had a large circle of extended family members and old friends who they always made sure to see. Their best times in old age were spent visiting with these people—something I thought was B-O-R-I-N-G. What I didn’t see then was how they got together with those in their circle, even during hard times. They loved to see new babies or talk about good times, but where they shone was visiting people in hospitals and nursing homes and attending funerals.

I have never been one of those people who walks into a nursing home at ease—though it breaks my heart that so many people are living in bodies and minds that are failing them, I am also afraid of approaching and interacting with them—as if somehow it’s all about me and my discomfort and not theirs. This despite the fact my grandparents brought me to visit in a nursing home often in my younger years because one of their (our) relatives lived there much of her long life after an early head injury. Thanks to them I at least understood that old age didn’t always look like the independence Granddad and Grandma maintained—and I witnessed what faithful commitment to loved ones through hard times looked like.

When my grandmother finally ended up in such a place in the final two years of her life, it was hard for me to see her that way in that space. I didn’t have to face my discomfort too often because I lived far away busy raising toddler twins, but in those years while my grandma declined, my father kept up the good visiting example set before him by his parents.

Later as my own mom descended deep into Alzheimer’s, I moved her into memory care. I had to learn to override my discomfort in order to visit her most days, but I did. And when you visit someone in memory care, you visit many other people beside your own loved one. I wouldn’t say I grew relaxed, but I could reach out to the other (mostly) women who I met there—people who I could see as individuals hanging onto who they were by a slim thread and people who needed to know they were not alone in whatever scary lack of understanding their own minds exhibited. Like my grandparents and father before me, I held hands and talked.

Now, four years since my mom has been gone, we are back to visiting my husband’s mother. A fracture of the femur and subsequent hip surgery sent her to a physical rehabilitation center, but it is an inability of her mind to absorb all the instructions that has finally sent her into a skilled nursing center—aka nursing home—to see if she can recover enough to walk back into her home. Once again we are confronting the frightening realities of people whose bodies and/or minds do not work as they should—including hers. But, still, we hold hands and talk.

My grandparents taught me how to do this—I don’t know if they were ever afraid or sad or tired of going when they went to see people, but they just went and visited. That’s what they did. I had no idea how brave they were to do so year after year for so many people and to keep visiting until they visited one last time for the final goodbye.

Visiting someone in a care facility is hard for me but I have to remind myself how much harder it has to be to be a person at the mercy of failing bodily systems away from my home and those whom I love. God bless the workers who care for our loved ones in our absence, but may we never forget how much power there is in spending our own time with those loved ones who long for who and how they once were and how we can give them a connection to the lives they have led outside their confinement.

I used to think my grandparents’ use of the word visiting spelled B-O-R-I-N-G, but now I know it spelled L-O-V-E. Now, that was living well.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

I never thought about the size of my jaw or my ear before, but let me tell you, when those items are swollen out of proportion you really start to realize just how lovely a fairly symmetrical head is and how often you’ve taken for granted that your head will remain that way. I also discovered that I’m much more vain than I believed: not only did I change my hair’s part in order to cover the most obvious results of my infection, but also I used the word “hideous” almost every time I described the swelling. Thankfully, by now I’m not certain a stranger can see any difference in me and even I can only see the slightest discrepancies.

I don’t read much science fiction and/or fantasy but last Tuesday I suddenly felt I’d been thrust into some plot involving some sort of weird science. The initial medical conjecture is that it was cellulitis attacking me and various parts of my head. My Internet research—through respected websites, mind you—told me way more than I wanted to know. I decided not to ponder the possibilities too much and stick to the doctor’s suggestions for treatment, including going to see a dentist to rule out any underlying dental troubles.

I wasn’t too certain all that was necessary, but scheduled the appointment anyway. My friend validated that decision Friday night when I went to her party—hair parted over the offending side and ear covered by a stocking cap as part of my costume—and she asked how I was. After my giving her a short explanation, she said, “You do know why I had surgery in June, don’t you?”

Not the particulars, but I had known it was something extremely odd as so much of her health difficulties have been.

Then she proceeded to explain about a year of misdiagnoses and the near-miss averted when her dentist discovered evidence of bone-eating (!) bacteria after his looking at her facial X-ray. She had to have diseased portions removed and replaced, as well replacement for areas that had already disappeared—and have four front teeth removed and replaced as well. She could have developed brain damage or even died without proper diagnosis.

Now that story should be science fiction—only it isn’t. While her experience is very, very rare, I agreed with her that maybe my going to the dentist wasn’t so silly after all.

Today my dentist saw nothing out of the ordinary. He described to me various parts of my panoramic X-ray—a procedure scheduled anyway as part of my general dental health and wellness maintenance—and showed where he would expect to see trouble if my infection were related to some dental root. He pointed out signs that my previously overblown lymph node was back to its unremarkable and fully functioning state. Then he used the opportunity to—once again—work on scaring me into being more proactive about protecting my mouth from infection through adding Waterpik treatments and more regular flossing to my routines.

Perhaps I’m scared enough on my own to take better precautions.

Despite my family thinking that I’m some sort of hypochondriac because I always research medical possibilities, I didn’t really expect this sort of thing to happen to me. Now, I admit I first thought about ruling out some weird sort of Hantavirus response—which is an infection for which there is no cure except for the possibility that medical supervision along with hydration can provide the best environment to give you a chance to recover. And, while the few mice we trapped in our home were not deer mice, the CDC does advise people to use the recommended precautions for cleaning since other mice may carry the disease—and we did not always follow those cleaning precautions, plus a local man really did lose his fight to that disease a couple weeks ago.

However, infection is a much broader threat than something specific with specific risks such as Hantavirus—which actually makes it easier not to think about. Even with my father-in-law’s more than yearlong battle with staph as well as the healthy respect I gained from his experience as to the power of infections to run rampant, I really haven’t thought about getting such an infection myself. In my own mind I realize I associate that with people who have been way more antibiotic-happy than I have been—and, yet, who is on a serious antibiotic right now?

Just over a day’s worth of meds to take, plus I plan to follow-up with probiotics, but boy am I counting those not-so-little bright blue pills.

So hard to tell whether it’s the naturally occurring science or the science that we have created that is the bigger danger in many situations. Do you dance with the devil you know or the one you don’t know? Isn’t an out-of-whack balance between the sides of science a requirement for any good science fiction story? All I know is I’m tired of being the protagonist in this science fiction story.

Maybe, with the right balance of science and just a little luck, all this will pass—and then I’ll just be left with a really good “can you believe it?” story to tell.

“You should have seen my ear—it looked as if it were going to give birth to an alien—or maybe to Rosemary’s baby. One night I went to sleep and the next morning it was just there. Whatever it was, it didn’t care if this host survived its birth or not. It was alive, I tell you—alive!”

But, hey—thank goodness for a truly boring and pretty much happy ending.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

Just call me Big Head Trina. Yup, I have an ear infection and swollen gland that are distorting half my face, stretching out my jaw-line and my ear. It’s sort of like a boxer’s ear without the bruises. I am not a pretty site.

At least today I can think from time to time. Yesterday all that infection and swelling seemed to have outstretched my brain’s ability to think. I couldn’t even get myself to read at all unless the ibuprofen was kicking in and, even then, I could hardly follow what was on the page or screen.

I barely was capable of getting out in the morning to the doctor’s office and navigating all the busyness around the medical center where that office is located. So what I know is that the nurse practitioner agreed to give me blood tests, but I also believe she told me to leave without waiting for those tests. I checked out at the front desk where I scheduled a follow-up appointment. Not until I was almost back to my car did I realize those tests hadn’t happened. However, in my fever-induced haze I couldn’t get myself to care enough to turn around. I just headed straight home to take some ibuprofen and sleep.

Though the office had ordered an antibiotic for me, I definitely hadn’t felt capable of going to the pharmacy. After my nap, though, I thought I was well enough to handle the light traffic of early afternoon as well as the pharmacy drive-though. Of course, once I got there I had to wait in line for several minutes behind someone whose cigarette smoke was heading my way out his open car window. Then when I reached the window, the pharmacy tech told me it would still be another 10 minutes for my prescription to be ready. That was 10 minutes I couldn’t really give, so I went home.

That’s when it hit me—all these years I have been the one who has been negotiating all the health care snafus for my kids, sometimes for my husband, and even for my mother in her last years. If a prescription wasn’t ready on time, if there was a mix-up at the doctor’s office, if someone had to be on hold—all that involved me working to fix matters.

And here it was me again but I didn’t have the energy and good health in order to push through the ordeal. I was on hold for over nine minutes with my doctor’s office before I could ever begin explaining how the blood tests had not happened. The remaining conversation took about six minutes—the whole 15 minutes exhausted me. I was certain I could not safely drive myself back to the doctor’s office for those blood tests.

I hadn’t felt so alone since I had when I was first working here as a fairly new college graduate and needed to get myself to my first doctor’s appointment out in the real world. I needed to trudge on foot to the doctor on snowy roads while temperatures hovered around ten degrees even though I was dealing with a flu that was skating close to walking pneumonia—which it likely became since I developed spots on my lungs from the illness.

Thinking of that, I finally decided to call my son to come home early to take me back for the blood tests and the medicine.

Here I am a day later, feeling somewhat more functional, thanks to the effects of a whole lot of doing nothing mixed with sleeping while taking my antibiotics and ibuprofen on schedule.

Never mind that I got a call from the doctor’s office saying my dehydrated, feverish body had produced blood too thick to test—I had to go back. Ugh. So before I went I tried to hydrate myself enough so that the next blood tests work. The good news is I didn’t have to trudge out on a frigid day—the sun was shining and these December temperatures have been moderate and I felt capable of driving short distances.

And, maybe soon I’ll no longer have this misshapen, lopsided head. Until then you can find me napping and otherwise conserving energy with my dogs on this comfy couch of mine.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

This I believe: do good business and your business will do well, should the conditions for what you offer be at all favorable.

What is good business? To me it’s about operating in a manner that supports all stakeholders—not just the ones that write you the biggest checks, such as the advertisers, or the shareholders, who so often are focused on the near future’s bottom line, not the long-term sustainability. Employees are more than expense—they create the value of your organization. And in today’s complex world when so often the users of your products are not the customers who write the checks, it’s still good practice to keep the users happy so that they continue to use your services.

I get that these days it’s really common that the real customer (or at least the biggest customer) is often not the user. For example, in health care the insurance companies bring in most of the money. But without patients coming through the doors, insurance won’t be paying out for services. Same with online “free” services, such as social media and news outlets. We have always had to put up with advertising, whether it’s print advertising in our publications, which keeps subscription prices lower, or whether it’s to watch network television. Now, in order to use electronic services—paid and free—we have to consent to let all of our online activities be followed and sometimes, even when we don’t want to watch an ad, those ads keep playing anyway, using up valuable computing and server resources. Maybe we can’t opt out of necessary services, such as certain health care procedures or visits, but we can reduce using them for optional care. And with other more discretionary activities, we can stop using the service at all. With fewer users of services, the real—or the one paying the most—customer makes less money. Chasing away users of your services is bad for the bottom line.

It comes down to respect. Businesses need to respect all sides of the profit-making equation, even if not all equally contribute to the bottom line in an easily quantifiable manner. Reasonable employees and reasonable customers are why a business can provide what it provides in order to make a profit. Treat these stakeholders well, and your business should grow. Really, it’s not trickle-down, it’s trickle-up.

The hubris of scorning the “little people” is just not good business. Betting that the user will put up with almost anything is not a good long-term plan, especially in the face of an improving economy. Odds are most people remember how a business has made them feel—I know I do and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. Treat me well and you might have me for life—without paying for any constantly playing videos or pop-up ads or whatever the next intrusive form of advertising is. (Visiting me in my dreams?)

You can say I’m a dreamer, but there are really no good reasons for it to be a dream for people to be treated well by corporations and other organizations.

Humor is reason gone mad. Groucho Marx

"Groucho" in 1992

“Groucho” in 1992


Maybe I need to share the funny side of my recent massage. Yeah, when you are letting someone pull your scalp and poke levels in your ears and such, it helps to keep a sense of humor.

Or maybe humor is just what I used to defuse fear—because trust me, there is fear with letting someone try to fix a body that hasn’t been treating you so well lately. Plus, getting a massage is just pretty awkward in the first place because—make no mistake—you are vulnerable when you are mostly naked and lying on a table in a darkened room.

None of this even addresses the fact I grew up in a very German-American family. We may hug at our reunions now but we definitely weren’t huggers back in the day—and I was probably one of the most hug-averse of the group. I remember going to church conferences away from home and almost breaking out in a cold sweat when I realized that people I hardly knew were going to hug me. Oh no, there was no excessive touch in my early years once I was too old for sitting on laps and such.

Did not have my first massage until I had been a mother of twins for several years—and by then I was a little touched-out, if you know what I mean. So that first massage definitely was not as relaxing as I’d hoped. Seriously, I have pretty much only used massage as pain treatment—my family calls me “Olga” because I only seem to give or want to receive hard massages.

OK, now that we’ve established that I have hang-ups about touch you might really understand why I think funny thoughts sometimes during massage.

No, my current practioner is not some big woman with an accent. She is slender, calm, and gentle (but firm—you probably already knew that!) The walls of her massage space are not just filled with peaceful images of animals and scenery; tangible proof of her knowledge and qualifications also shares those same walls, just as in offices of other educated professionals.

The measuring processes she performed require several tools—some with technical names I didn’t catch. But I did recognize the levels she used for verifying, well, my levelness, as well as the chopsticks (!) she used as visual props. Of course, she required me to stand with correct posture—well, my best version of correct posture for now—and to look her in the eyes all while she measured up and down and across and backward and forwards.

So the first crazy thought I had had to do with seeing her eyes close-up in her glasses, which she does not usually wear. The concentrated focus reminded me of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s description of the Dr. T.J. Eckleburg billboard (with the seemingly all-seeing eyeglasses) in The Great Gatsby. Somehow I worried that under such close scrutiny, I would be found lacking, just as the characters were in that novel.

However, it was hard to feel too serious with a couple levels sticking out of your ears. And then when she used the chopsticks as a visual aid—by my head, of course—all I could think was that I hoped she wasn’t a zombie seeking out brains for an afternoon snack.

What a picture this whole process must have made. The visual would be great for a movie—well, with other people playing the roles. Even some of the massage techniques look funny although there isn’t really anything too funny about getting long-held pain to release—but I’m sure Hollywood could figure out a way to minimize that minor factor.

All I can tell you is that, despite the awkward moments and the discomfort as well as the pain, every time I leave I walk out a slightly newer woman—or at least a woman who is shedding some of the damage added over the years. There is nothing funny about that, except that the better I feel, the more I want to laugh. And while I might let you hug me, don’t even think about pulling my scalp—let’s leave that to the professionals! My madness has its limits.

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

Had a facelift yesterday. OK—not really, but somehow I look younger for having my cranium, of all things, worked on in order to help reduce my hip pain.

I’m at the point in my pursuit of healing where I’m chasing down subtle treatments—well, subtle in that it’s not always obvious how something such as the head’s placement might affect the hip. Not so subtle in the treatment—which was fairly intense and involved working on the connections around bones in my head with names that mostly escape me. But, trust me, the painful work on my mandible (the lower jawbone) had me realizing just how much I had to trust my neuromuscular massage therapist to let her do this.

How did I know that getting my jaw worked on would help my hip? I didn’t—but I had to trust the process based on past experiences with the practioner and the healing she’s brought me so far. I absolutely believe one of the bigger problems with seeing a physical therapist or an orthopedic doctor (which I haven’t done but my daughter has) is that those professionals see the body more in pieces. For those of us who didn’t get injured from an event, perhaps knowing how to fix the ache won’t be enough to prevent it again, if nothing else changes.

Am I a case in point? Possibly. My trigger-point-dry-needling and exercises from the PT—along with time—definitely healed me from my bulging disc. I felt good after I healed, but I didn’t want to do therapy exercises just to feel good—I wanted to do those exercises so I could get back to doing other activities I enjoy. And that isn’t the craziest thought since I do not have any major musculoskeletal damage.

But what about my biomechanics no longer allows me to do my activities as I’d choose, even with a fairly regular maintenance exercise routine? This, my friends, leads me to an even grayer area than that of how to treat initial lower back/hip pain. If you think all the different types of professional experts have opposing opinions about how to treat such pain in an acute situation, just try to get treatment for that pain in a chronic situation. You can find all sorts of valid scientific research to point you in a treatment direction, but so little is absolute in how such treatments will best bring about healing in your particular lower back/hip.

No, I’ve done yoga long enough to realize that all those pieces of our bodies are connected. My slight understanding of physics tells me that change one part of the body and another part will respond or act in a different way. By now I’m aware that a holistic approach as to why a certain section of my body isn’t working well very likely will include some other section of my body, but I have to admit I never really thought my head might be that section damaging my hip. (And for today, not even going to go into depth on the mind-body connection which adds a whole ‘nuther layer to the holistic approach.)

Just so you know, the practioner didn’t just start yanking around on my head. She measured quite a few sections of my body, looking for quantification of discrepancies. Who knew that a pair of levels could be used to analyze how various bones in my body compared side-by-side? Turns out I’m not as crooked as she expected and the crookedness I demonstrate is focused in a few crucial areas.

Sometime during the post-measurement massage session I realized my hip was not screaming quite as loudly as it had been—and not just because other body parts were receiving more focused attention. When I finally stood from the table, I really did feel the shift.

And last night? I slept better than I had in ages and woke more with the stiffness of a good workout than from the stiffness of chronic pain.

I know enough to understand that my body can shift back again. I still have to train it to learn these new alignments, just as I have done with other changes made over my lifetime from wearing orthotics or doing drills at a track practice or practicing yoga or being treated with dry needling. Muscle memory is both what holds me back and what may save me with intention and practice as I attempt to teach my body new memories.

Once again we’re back to the head—and the mind-body connection. All I know is for today I’ve got a good head (straight) on my shoulders—which may yet bring the crooked (back and hip) in line.

(See Neurosomatic Therapy.)

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

When I gave birth to my twins, the experienced moms from my running club’s board gave me a bath gift set. At first I thought, “I never take baths. And when will I ever have time for one now? Are they crazy?”

But they weren’t experienced moms for nothing. In those days of the too-muchness of early parenting years, there is often too little time or money to do big things for oneself. Sometimes the easiest way to take care of yourself is to create a little retreat time in your own home while the other parent makes certain you won’t be interrupted—even if such times rarely happen.

I think it took me years to use up that gift set. I barely had time to sit down let alone to soak in a warm tub by myself, but the few times a year I did sit in the tub really helped me to keep doing all those things I did when I wasn’t sitting down.

I never really developed a bath habit until much later when aches and pains from skiing or a particularly hard workout would chase me into that tub. Even then I wasn’t very consistent with hot soaks until I encountered the chronic pain of injuries that did not heal nearly as quickly as I hoped.

Oh, thank goodness for the decent size of our 1940s bathtub. Lucky for me most of those aches and pains really do fit into that space of healing.

No, I’m still not a bubble bath, spa kind of a woman in the pampering sense. I’m more of an Epsom salts bath devotee seeking to keep those physical therapists out of my life, or a post-traumatic-massage bather.

By now I’ve learned that time in the tub is not wasted time—it can get me moving after a tough night when my body refuses to allow pain-free sleep or it can get me back out on the track when I’m more than a little stiff. And if I know I overdid it on said track, a quick post-run bath can alleviate the likelihood of another sleepless night.

If there were an Epsom salts bath council and it ever needed a representative, I would be that person. These days I believe in baths, I really do. Health, sanity, whatever—baths keep me on track, one way or the other. After ducking into a bath, I always feel just ducky.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Boy, have I been blocked this month. I’ve started a few posts I have yet to finish and tried other times without getting any words down. My main technique for getting unblocked—getting moving by doing something purely physical such as exercising or performing chores—has not worked. Maybe it’s time to look for a writing prompt.

But today I finally have something to say—and I wonder if the loosening of the block is related to what is happening to my longtime physical block. After the last really tough physical therapy treatment didn’t yield nearly enough relief as I had hoped, I thought I ought to try something else before the next PT appointment.

At my age it’s pretty easy for me to know other people who have been dealing with injuries and/or pain—and some of them have even found relief. Those are the people whose advice I seek out for better possibilities. Thanks to a referral, on Saturday I got the hardest (deepest?) deep tissue massage I have ever had—which was just as planned. I went in seeking short-term pain that might be able to relieve the less intense but long-term pain I have been experiencing.

A big part of me is into traditional western medicine but another part of me acknowledges that sometimes the difficulties can lie more in the realm of the unexplained. That’s when seeking a whole body approach to why something hurts in a specific location might work better. Just what about those old emotions and/or experiences might be keeping logical solutions from working?

Though my lower back and hips have been crying out for attention, I was not unaware of the possibility that maybe something on the front side might be torquing that back side into those painful knots. Suffice it to say, I believe now. After the massage therapist reviewed my surgeries and accidents, she chose to focus on areas in my abdomen and groin rather than where the most recent pains have occurred. I don’t think I cried during the session, but to get through the worst moments, I definitely used that yogic breathing I’ve been practicing for years. The crazy thing is that when I stood up from the session, I knew I was better. My shoulders were more relaxed and I didn’t favor the achy side anymore.

Yes, those relaxed feelings were just the calm before the storm of aches I knew I faced. You don’t work tissue that deeply without moving toxins throughout your body. I went home to a hot Epsom salts bath, then drank and drank as much water as I could as well as rubbed (lightly!) Arnica on the most abused areas. Sunday was incredibly painful—more water and Arnica followed.

But today? Today I woke up feeling much less one-sided than I have felt in almost a year. Plus, I didn’t need to wait a few hours for my body to loosen this morning. And in yoga? So much of the resistance was gone. I could work hard and not really feel so obsessed with the areas that have been so prominent for so long. The cries for attention were almost inaudible to me—and that’s even though I am still very sore from the massage.

I’m sure it’s too soon to know if my massage has really chipped away as much of this block as I think it has, but I know something in me has shifted. Stop the world—I want to get back on again.

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(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert