Great Doc Award: Dr. Lewis B. Lane

My mother sees Dr. Lewis B. Lane in Great Neck for her arthritis. Dr. Lane is the Chief of Hand Surgery at North Shore LIJ University Hospital. I accompanied Mom last month to a checkup appointment with Dr. Lane for the arthritis in her hand. 

So after Mom broke her hand, I took her Mom to an appointment with Dr. Lane who wrapped her arm up with a half cast. Unfortunately, the half cast and the arthritis do not mix.

With arthritis, moving your hand helps diffuse the inflammation. With a break, moving your hand can delay or prevent the healing. The half cast caused severe arthritic inflammation and swelling throughout the hand while also sending her pain through the roof. She has been battling the battle of the hand problems ever since she fell on the 6th. 

By Saturday the 23rd, the pain had gotten particularly bad. I called and spoke to the on-call doctor, reiterating the unfortunate situation to Mom about how to treat her hand: take the Percocet that she got from the hospital, use ice, take off the cast as long as she doesn’t use the hand too much. 

On Monday, I called the office and got a morning appointment for Tuesday morning. Mom got a cortisone shot in her hand. The pain of it surprised her as she had no pain with previous cortisone shots in her lower back and knee. Dr. Lane said it would take at minimum a few days to take effect and as long as one to two weeks. She might get some improvement by this weekend. 

Unfortunately, my mom has continued to have severe pain in her hand since Tuesday. I called Dr. Lane’s office and left a message. I wanted to know if there was any better medication that my mother could take instead of the Percocet since she still has pain even when she takes it. The staff person said she would get a message to him because he was out of the office and that he would call me back. 

Within a couple of hours, Dr. Lane called me back and we spoke at length. Dr. Lane and I talked about a range of things: whether or not the Percocet had Tylenol in it (it does), the problem my mother is facing with her dual hand issues, and the limitations and problems of pain management for elderly patients.

I have explained the challenges of a break in her arthritic hand many times to my Mom. But it’s hard when she suffers, wants relief desperately, and I am unable to do that. All I can do is offer sympathy, support, and be there for her. 

But back to Dr. Lane. He asked about whether or not she was depressed, suggested I talk to her doc about meds or therapy, and spoke empathetically about her predicament. He talked about his experience dealing with his own elderly mother and even complimented me on being there for my mom, saying there was a special place in heaven for people like me. I said I hoped there was.

I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Lewis B. Lane. Not only is he an incredible doctor, he has a calm demeanor, treats his staff and his patients with respect, explains things clearly, possesses a great bedside manner, is caring and empathetic, and is very funny!

I adore this man as a doctor, and I told him I thought he was a doll.

Because he is. 

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Post Poned

My regular Thursday biweekly post will appear tomorrow.

I apologize to my blog readers.

Stepping Up to the Health Plate

I must confess: I have a lazy streak.

I figure that lazy streak was my counterpoint to the intense, competitive drive I have used over the years both to propel me forward and avoid dealing with issues. A one-two punch!

Now, at least 10 years in the making, I have been riddled with fibromyalgia. I have managed to get my sleep issues under control by using melatonin and/or Cymbalta to get a better night’s sleep, having regular sleep hours, and not using the computer a couple of hours before bedtime.

One area where I have not managed to get my act together is my health. The main problem is consistency. In that I have none when it comes to exercise. I rejoined a gym in February after moving to NY, and I began to go to the pool to do my aqua therapy and attend water aerobics classes.

When I got a call from the gym staff saying that my fitness test was about to expire, I decided to go in. I had paid for it, so why not?

I should have been more suspicious.

After meeting with a very able trainer named Abir, I got brought to a desk to talk about training. While my BMI is in the middle of the normal range, my body fat cent was under 28% of my weight. Eek!! When I said I couldn’t pay the $55 a session, he went and got his manager.

I should know better by now what’s coming.

The manager of the club, John, was direct, straightforward, and firm. I could feel myself being played, but when he dangled a $35 a session fee in front of my face and told me that building muscle would help stretch out the myofascial pain spots, I was like Where do I sign up?!

And sign up for personal training for a 9 month period is what I did. I went in two days later to meet John for initial numbers. I get a book with my stats that gets updated every time I come in. I am so ready to get better. I will do this weight training thing if it kills me. If these guys can also get me a bikini body as a bonus, I will be flying high come next year. I have my first session tomorrow.

What I really want is to work hard, build up my body, and feel good again so I can live my life without pain. I want to become one of those people who have so much energy, that they can pursue their dreams to their fullest.

How Not to Ride the Waves

I love going into a pool or into the ocean. I also have been afraid of drowning since I was a child. Puts me in a bit of a bind, it does. Because I love the water more than I am afraid, I go in anyway.

Even though I go into the water, I am reluctant to immerse my head under water. Afterwards, my eyes sting so badly that I need to dry my eyes with a towel before they stop stinging and I can see again. Wiping them with my hands only seems to make them sting more. I have tried to shake my head, as I have seen boys and dogs do after they leap, god-like, up from the water, but it doesn’t help.

Because my eyes are sensitive to the water, I cannot wear contacts. Plus, I have poor eyesight. Without eyeglasses, I feel even less confident wave surfing because I am concerned about misjudging wave height, getting knocked over, and drowning.

To summarize with the help of an equation:

My reluctance to put my head underwater/Wear no eyeglasses > My love of water > My fear of drowning

Yesterday, I went to Jones Beach for the afternoon. Jones Beach is a beach along a peninsula off the southern coast of Long Island. The last time I went to Jones Beach was as a teenager, so it’s been at least 25 years since I spent time there.

I had forgotten that the shore can be steep in places. You do not have to go far out into the water to find yourself riding some pretty deep waves. Two or three banks of waves came in one after the other. Children with parents and teens were wave surfing in groups.The beach felt both crowded and empty. I found parking easily. People settled under umbrellas near the lifeguards, but plenty of room still existed for newcomers.

When I arrived, high tide was rolling in. In the span of a couple of hours, the waves dumped a lot of sand on the shore at the spot where I waded creating a deep bank where none had existed. I wrote under a shady umbrella, and then baked in the sun for a bit so that going into the water would be refreshing.

While I was in the water, I started riding some waves higher than the earlier waves by a foot or two. Unfortunately, a huge wave came and I had to make a decision. Go under or try to go over. Which one do you think I made?

Answer: The wrong one.

If I had not been afraid to go underwater because my eyes would sting, I made the choice to try and go over it. But it was already too late for that choice. I had not been close enough to the waves when it was building. As it started to crest, I tried to go over it. Guess who won that one?

Answer: It wasn’t me.

As the water was about to cover me, I held my breath and tried to grab my nose before water went up it (I didn’t make it). The wave knocked me backwards and into a somersault. The lower back of my head hit the sand. My other hand went out for stability, and I felt the water lift my prescription sunglasses up and off my face. I was able to stand pretty up right away, even though I got hit by another, smaller wave. I took a few steps towards the beach, and I heard someone gasp and giggle. I realized that my top and been yanked way down. I was standing with my boobage visible to all. I yanked up my shirt and made my way out of the water. I was kind of, sort of, but not really embarrassed. As I shook my hair out, I realized that my hair clip was gone, too, as was the flexible fabric bandaid that had been on my leg.

Neptune was a greedy bastard.

I tried looking for a washed up pair of sunglasses on the beach. But I know how quickly items can be moved either out to sea or down shore, so I didn’t look too hard to find them.

Afterwards, I felt lucky that my neck didn’t get broken or that I didn’t drown. I was on the edge of the green flags that the lifeguards use. But you can bet next time that I am planting myself right down in front of them. I will leave the glasses behind, or secure them to my body (although I think it will be safer just to leave them onshore. I will have to read up on how to make them sting less or just try to see if exposure will get my eyes used to the salt.

When it comes to wave riding, I will play by Neptune’s rules because he doesn’t play by mine.

7 Steps to Awaken Your Lazy Mind

Your mind is lazy. Very. Lazy.

When things are predictable or set, your mind doesn’t have to expend as much energy in figuring out what to do. Mental habits allow your mind to take a break, like a night guard snoozing in a chair instead of being alert and scanning the cameras for intruders. After a while, you stop noticing all the pieces that go into your mental habit, and you are left reacting to events in a repetitive way.

If that works for you most of the time without significant distress, a mental habit can save you time and effort that you can expend elsewhere. If the opposite is true, then it might be time to investigate how your thought process was constructed so that you can break it down again.

I have been stuck thousands of times. The method below has worked for me, and I hope it will help you, too.

Step 1: Identify the thought

Pick one thought process or reaction that you want to change. If there are many thoughts jumbled together, do your best to identify the first one. If you’re not sure whether one thought precedes another, that’s OK. You might not be conscious of it right now, but it will show up as you dig deeper.

STEP 2: Relax and let go

Mental habits can be challenging to break when they stir emotions within us that we find overwhelming. Trying to push your mind to find out what is really going on can make matters worse and add to your stress. Don’t go there. Instead, we relax and let go so that we can put ourselves into an observing role instead of participating in the mental drama.

Make some time where you can be alone and listen to yourself. Some call it your intuition, gut, or your feelings. I find that they tend to “live” in my stomach. If I want to know how I’m feeling, I might also listen to feelings that in heart, throat, or head.

To get centered, sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. If you need more time to relax, try to focus on your breath as it goes in and out, or in the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe. When I have great difficulty in getting a break from my obsessed mind, I find using one of two mantras help for me.

The first mantra I use is  Live in the body, not in the mind. As I slowly repeat this mantra, I focus on relaxing my belly and then any other place where I seem to be holding myself in. Don’t zip around your body. To be calm is to relax is to be slow and deliberate. I find that this mantra helps turn the freight train of thoughts in my brain and feel calmer.

The second mantra I use is Good thoughts, bad thoughts. They all fall down into the sea of thoughts. I can’t take credit for this mantra, however. I learned it from Maddy Klyne, one of the teachers at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center during one of their weekly Tuesday night beginners’ drop-in class. With this mantra, I try to let any other thoughts that pop up pass away, or I tell myself Thinking, thinking and then letting go of the thought.

By relaxing our inner mental chaos, we are more likely to be relaxed in our body and to see the thoughts and feelings that arise within.

step 3: observe Your Thought process

When you are ready, think of the habit or situation that you want to address. For me, it’s easiest to start thinking about the feeling that troubles me the most. I try to let my mind float with thoughts over what I felt and what happened, interchangeably. If you get stuck, you can ask yourself questions that may elicit information from your brain that may otherwise be hidden from you. Work your way backwards by asking yourself What caused this feeling? Work your way forward by asking And then what happened?  Hopefully, you will not only see what you’ve been thinking and feeling, but you’ll discover new information that was not in the forefront of your consciousness like some of the other details that you mind became obsessed with.

STEP 4: Write it all down

Open your eyes. Get out your favorite writing implement and paper, and write.

The act of writing slows your thought processes down because you have to deliberately write each word down. As a result, your mind sees the progression of your thoughts more clearly. Using computer software is not as useful because our minds and our fingers are quick, maybe too quick to really notice what’s going on in our minds.

Take your time. Write it in whatever way suits you. Make a list. Use index cards. You can write in a linear way with arrows between steps and feelings. If you do this, remember to leave a lot of space between steps so that you can add things in as you become aware of them. You might be surprised at how effective just this one method is.

step 5: Let it stew

You’ve chosen your thought. You relaxed and let go. You wrote it all down.

Next our minds need time to absorb new information. In some cases, seeing the thought pattern in its entirety is enough to help you understand why you do the things you’ve done, why you have felt the way you did, and to break the pattern.

Most likely, your mind needs time to absorb and integrate the new information.

Step 6: Make A new choice

When the old thought or situation comes up again (and come up again it will), you will recognize it when it occurs. Then, you can choose what you want to do in the moment. It will be all up to you in a way that did not exist before you took the time to investigate your mental habit.

Now that you’ve been able to break your mental habit, your lazy mind becomes your active mind. New actions mean a new course for your life ahead. Even if nothing changes outwardly, inwardly you will be born again.

step 7: Remember to be happy

You cannot have two thoughts or feelings at the same time. Sometimes it may feel like it. What really happens is that we cycle so quickly through a number of thoughts and feelings that it seems like they are occupying the same mental, physical, emotional, and psychological space.

When you are stricken with the same old negative emotion or thought, choose to focus instead on what it feels like to be happy. Happiness comes from within. So often we let ourselves feel that what the other did is what caused the feelings that arise in us. But that’s misleading. No one lives inside us but us. No one can feel what we feel but us. No one can make us feel but us.

Therefore, we can, at least briefly, turn our attention to something more positive. Stop and smell a rose. Remember how your first kiss felt. How wearing an outfit made you feel confident and strong.

If focusing on the positive isn’t your thing, then spend time on a hobby, help a child with homework, go volunteering, or exercise. The point is to let your mind be busy with something else, anything else, but the thought that gets you nowhere.

Fear and Loathing in Ferguson

I don’t normally wander into offering my opinion on current events. I hate getting into arguments with people, and I try to avoid posts that invite vitriol and threats, like one such as this might. However, a friend on Facebook mentioned that Robin Williams was getting far more press in her feed than the events in Ferguson, so I felt compelled to tip the balance in the other direction.

The Way We Were?

In my heart, I believe that many people in this country are good, decent people. Yet, as a white woman born of Italian immigrants, I have seen the worst of the worst that we do to each other, the blame we place, and the truths we deny.

And I wonder whether the brutality that African-Americans live under in this country still has roots in centuries-old WASP beliefs that races out of Africa are inferior, comprised of wild animals that were made by God for the white race to subject and use. Because, you know, God is white (that’s sarcasm, dear reader). This “fear of the black man” thing seems to be alive and well.

Slavery and the birth of this country went hand in hand. We cannot escape that this great land was partially built on the torture, abuse, and exploitation of Africans who were brought to this country as work horses. Early Americans saw them as property to be bought and sold.

Things.

They were thought of and treated as things to be used and discarded instead of living, breathing humans with hearts and love and families.

The thought makes me ill.

Fear and Loathing

I am appalled at the way some police officers treat some people in this country. Every ethnic group gets hassled, but the seemingly unbridled brutality against African-Americans by some in law enforcement shocks me. Young men seem to bear the brunt of it. Countless stories of mistreatment, unfairness, beatings, and death! I cannot imagine the kind of heartbreak that families endure in these communities.

I mean, WHO CARES if two young African-American males are walking in the street? Why hassle them? I wonder why the officer wasn’t simply concerned about their safety. If pedestrians walking in the street is a safety issue, then you should ask them to walk on the sidewalk. Is that really a reason to get your gun out, officer? It seems to me that that particular officer was looking for a fight. Oh, he got one. Not the one he expected, I’m sure.

Oh! He went for your gun? Well where the fuck was it if his hands were up in the air? Don’t get me wrong. I get the self-defense thing. But when an officer is this tightly wound, they could disintegrate a spider with a shotgun and claim it was justified. And the juries and courts just go, “Oh, yeah. Ok. No problem.” Being frightened should not be an unrestricted license to kill another person.

The Blame Game

I heard that some Ferguson rioters carried shotguns, so the police state force was justified. I hear you. I do. But, to blame the victim for everything all the damn time, is morally wrong and invites lawlessness from law enforcement. I won’t blame victims in just the same way I won’t blame rape victims for wearing a skirt too short.

Fuck that “blaming victims and absolving aggressors” shit. Aggressors of all stripes need to be reigned the EFF in, whether in law enforcement or not. Blame might be one way to identify who the involved parties are, but, after that, it’s an utterly useless tool for solving problems.

Decent People

Social standing is no indicator that you will be treated like a decent human being, either. You can still be hassled and blamed. African-American Washington Post Wesley Lowery was arrested in Ferguson, as was white colleague Ryan Reilly who reports for the Huffington Post. Both were arrested when they did not vacate the premises fast enough for the police. Did you get that?

For not moving fast enough.

Where was the life-threatening emergency that necessitated such impatience? It’s this kind of thing that makes you want to tear your hair out. At least, their lives were not endangered.

If Ferguson is in racial meltdown, don’t you, as an officer, have anything better to do than arrest two reporters simply because you wanted them to get out in 10 seconds instead of 8? It takes time to clear out a restaurant. If you are a patient cop, then give the customers time. Because the people in McDonald’s were customers before you walked in with a purpose in mind. It’s called appropriate crowd control, not how to arrest a crowd of people in one easy step. Officers: Let’s please stop treating everyone you encounter during a crisis as an enemy.

Stop Making Shit Up

Grabbing someone and yelling, “Stop resisting!” has got to cease being proof of someone resisting arrest. At the very least, please counter this with cooperating statements, such as, “Yes, officer, I am cooperating.” Do not give them the ammunition they need to blame you for your arrest by getting upset.

Besides, you only do yourself the disservice because the likelihood of a reprimand or justice through the courts is extremely low, unless you are white. Then, maybe, you might have a chance. However, being white is no guarantee of justice either. People from many backgrounds have been coerced into confessions or had evidence withheld that resulted in their convictions by conviction-happy DA’s who forgot their job is to preserve justice. And that’s just Texas.

(Sorry, Texas peeps. I’m not picking on you. The story just sticks in my mind.)

What to Do if You are Arrested

The ACLU has great online resources for you to read if you want to be educated and prepared to know what to do when you are arrested.  Remember, being arrested can happen to anyone at anytime. No one is safe, but some of us are less safe than others – sometimes remarkably less so.

Three Ways to Claim Your Personal Power

On my mostly uninformative Facebook News Feed, I came across an article on Elephant Journal, a mindfulness-oriented blog and news site, about how to claim power back from the people who piss you off. Even if no one is pissing you off right at this moment, you can still make changes that will help you go from feeling intimidated to feeling powerful.

Realize You Have Power To Be Claimed

I am reminded of one of Eleanor Roosevelt’s most famous quotes: No one can take advantage of you without your permission. Not just pretty words. (Right, Morticia?).

One reason we may feel intimidated is because we have already decided that the other person holds more power to hurt us than we have to hurt them. Once you think that way, you have already lost.

Take Actions in the Face of Helplessness

I am not talking about situations in which we may have legitimate reasons to fear for our personal safety. Those types of scenarios are justifiably frightening. Even then, you may feel powerless, but still take any and all of the steps that are available to you. You can still act your best to act in your best interest.

Decide The Power Lies Within

When you have give your power away, you think the other person holds all the cards. That is simply not the case. I recently realized that I have been approaching a certain situation in my life from a disadvantaged viewpoint. After reading Ms. Grant’s article in Elephant Journal, I had the thought:

I come from a place of power. 

I thought it. I said it. And best of all, I believed it. And it felt great! In a few short moments, I began to breathe easier, I felt my stomach relax, and the worry I had been feeling cleared from my mind.

Yes, I come from a place of power. So do you. So does everyone. It is only in us thinking that we do not that makes it so.