New! – A Healthy Living Newsletter
patients frequently ask my opinion about new health books on the market.
And there's certainly no shortage of experts peddling their advice!
While many of these books are excellent, others are written by people
who don't have a clinical background in the subject. Simply put - they're
The patients I have with cancer that are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation barely have enough energy to make it through the day - much less exercise. I figured Berman, a triathlon athlete (swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles), was in the ozone with this idea. Not so. Before you skip this review because the subject is cancer, read a bit more, as the advice in this book is excellent for everyone. I initially picked up the book because the title was laughable to me. The patients I have with cancer that are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation barely have enough energy to make it through the day - much less exercise. I figured Berman, a triathlon athlete (swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles), was in the ozone with this idea. Not so. This easy-to-read book is immensely practical because Berman writes about cancer from his own experience. I kept finding myself thinking, "everyone should be doing this - not just those with cancer".
An adjunct to a traditional cancer treatment program, the Force Program (Focus on Rehabilitation and Cancer Education) hinges on three components: exercise, relaxation and nutrition. For Berman, exercise can range from 2 laps around the dining room table to taking a brisk walk in your neighborhood to pumping iron in the gym. The intensity of the exercise is based on the stage the person is in during the cancer treatment plan. The relaxation portion focuses on breathing exercises, not sitting in front of the television. Quoting the results of several scientific studies, he explains the importance of relaxing your body to help in the healing process. The nutrition section stresses the need for good food choices rather than adopting a specific diet.
I had a few minor complaints with the book. First, the relaxation section was way too short and didn't go into enough detail about how important it is to do some sort of deliberate relaxation technique daily. This can range from meditation, tai chi, yoga, to listening to soothing music. It means engaging in a gentle activity that results in the total relaxation women feel when they take a hot bath. For those few minutes, the phone, kids and husband are on hold - and she can totally relax her muscles. I'm not sure what a good analogy for men would be.
My second complaint is Berman's feeble examination of herbs. Whoever wrote that section for him had limited or no experience with herbs. The herbs described in the book are not the foremost herbs used for supportive treatment for cancer. That section should have been deleted from the book.
Berman ends the book with specific exercise guidelines for the various types of cancer. Breast cancer patients have different limitations than colon cancer patients. I have never seen this before and was thoroughly impressed. Similarly, he adds a section on pediatric cancers. No, they don't go to a gym. Instead, their exercises focus on fun. Maybe, that's something adults could learn as well.
Speaking from personal
experience, Berman recommends researching your cancer, lightening up,
and (my personal favorite) taking responsibility for your health. Even
more, he suggests reevaluating priorities in our lives. If you or someone
you know has cancer, tell him about this book. And even if you don't,
read this book for yourself. Why wait until you are sick to do something
good for your health?
The Dance of Connection, the latest book by Harriet Lerner, continues in her ongoing mission to help women communicate better. So, I wasn't sure if this was just a rehash of the same material in The Dance of Anger, an excellent book that I reviewed last March. You know, when a best selling author writes 2 or 3 sequels that all repeat the same message ad nauseum. Happily, though the style is the same, most of the content isn't.
Lerner's central theme in The Dance of Connection is maintaining one's integrity and sense of self-worth. She starts by reminding us about children's sandbox fights. They are fierce, over quickly, and generally resolve without bitterness. On the other hand, "we (adults) have a terrible time stepping aside from our anger, bitterness and hurt. We lock ourselves into negativity at the expense of happiness and well-being."
Instead, she urges that we analyze a negative situation objectively, and get a heartfelt clarity to either handle it differently through more effective communication or move on. Otherwise, she argues, the person loses herself by staying in the situation. We have all seen people, male or female, who says "it's just not worth the fight" and walls themselves off. They have sacrificed all or part of their happiness at the price of what - a cold war that festers inside. Lerner writes "you need to pay attention to your relationship and nurture it, you need to move toward your partner in a living and gerenous way and you need to avoid distancing or disconnecting emotionally." Amen.
Lerner also describes an interesting component to how we deal with conflict - our heritage. For example, those of Anglo-Saxon Protestant descent tend to have optimism, cheerful stoicism, self-reliance, individual initiative and good problem solving skills. These skills break down with illness or in times of dependency. Imagine a woman of this background running a household with three children, an invalid mother-in-law and a part-time job. She will have trouble asking for help - even at the risk of her own mental, emotional and physical health.
Written almost as an aside, Lerner discusses the female child whose early childhood litany is "where's that happy face?" Her future is an adult who maintains a façade and internalizes her anger. Lerner suggests that we urge our children to express their dissatisfaction in a constructive way. I would add "in a respectful and constructive" way.
The Dance of Connection is an extremely useful tool in maintaining your health. Yes, I am going to get around to health in this review. Learning to successfully and maturely communicate with the realization that you may not change the other person's opinion is essential to maintaining good health. I have seen several patients in my own practice and have read about others in medical literature, who eat a very healthy diet and exercise but who have become seriously ill with cancer, a chronic or an autoimmune disease. In most cases, there was an unresolved conflict.
I really enjoyed
this book especially the one-liners dispersed throughout. "To be
heard, you may need to lover the volume and intensity rather than raise
it", "The most important voice we need to trust in a relationship
is our own." and her Ellen Goodman quote to young girls "Speak
up, speak up, speak up, the only person you'll scare off is your future
ex-husband." The Dance of Connection is Harriet Lerner's seventh
book on communication. At some point, we the readers, need to "get
it". "Does the person we love enlarge (rather than diminish)
our sense of self and our capacity to speak our own truths?" If
you can't answer yes, then read this book.
I tend to steer clear of the immunization issue. It's like religion and abortion. People feel passionate about the issue - and are rarely objective enough to attempt to see the opposing view. However, after one of my patients emailed me about this book, a second called, and a third actually made the trip to my office and gave me a copy to read, I decided to take the plunge. So please don't shoot the messenger!
Let's start with a little background about the author, Dr. Stephanie Cave. After finishing medical school in her late thirties, she settled down into what she thought would be a nice pediatric practice. Within a few years, her practice became inundated with autistic children. Autism is a condition in which the child has limited or no verbal or social development with repetitive, bizarre, and occasionally violent behavior. These children are generally institutionalized within a few years of diagnosis. Autism has increased 300% in the last 30 years - with no slowing in sight. Approximately 1 in every 300 children, primarily male, will develop autism.
Dr. Cave started researching causes and treatments for this extreme condition. In her research and in her clinical observation, many cases of autism seemed to be linked to immunization. The good news is that she developed a protocol that really helps this group of people. The bad news is that it is incredibly expensive. Therefore, in her efforts to prevent the continued rise of this condition, she wrote What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children's Vaccinations. The book offers well-documented information about the pros and cons of immunizations as well as specific guidelines on how to reduce the risk of an adverse effect from the immunization. While Dr. Cave routinely administers vaccinations in her practice, she just does it in a very careful way.
Vaccinations have been remarkably effective in reducing the number of specific disease such as polio, measles, mumps, chickenpox, tetanus, whooping cough, etc. The concern broached by Dr. Cave and many other physicians and scientists is the unexplained rise in previously rare conditions in children like autism, rheumatoid arthritis, shingles, cancers, asthma and diabetes, to name a few. Similarly, the medical community is finding an increase in both immunized and un-immunized adults coming down with the childhood diseases the immunizations were designed to avoid. That's about where Dr. Cave starts to ask her many questions. When we don't develop a natural immunity to these diseases, are we pushing the diseases into adulthood, where they are much more serious? Is there a connection between immunizations and the rise in more serious illnesses in children? Do the various individual vaccines interact with each other? And if so, how? What else is in the vaccinations? Can the disease mutate to form strains that would render the vaccine inactive? What did the original research from the pharmaceutical companies reveal that might not be listed on the consumer insert?
Dr. Cave poses question after question. Drawing on the scientific community's research, she offers some answers. She also analyzes the components of the individual vaccinations. Is the virus live, deactivated, or genetically developed? How does that make a difference? What is the experience in other countries with the various vaccines? What safeguards do we have in place to protect our children against an adverse reaction? Cave states that only 10% of all adverse reactions are reported to The Vaccine Adverse Events Reporing System (VAERS). Further, 75% of those claims are rejected based on increasingly stringent guidelines. What is each state's stance on the right of the parents to chose to vaccinate or not? How much does the immunization debate play into big business? If the government alone funded studies on all the effects of vaccinations, would a link between these newly increased illnesses and vaccinations be established? (Research institutions receive extensive grants from pharmaceutical companies.) The list goes on and on.
It's way too comprehensive a book for me to go into detail about the individual vaccinations. But I will share her main guidelines to reduce risk of adverse reactions:
Is this book easy
to read? No. Is it an important book to read? Absolutely. And not only
for parents. Even though the book focuses on childhood immunizations,
Dr. Cave also covers current adult vaccinations and the vaccinations
in trial stages and those still on the drawing board. The vaccination
issue impacts us all. When we started to innoculate our children, we
had no idea what the long term effects would be. We just believed eliminating
these diseases was an important goal. Maybe the dramatic increase in
childhood autoimmune diseases, autism, or diabetes has nothing whatsoever
to do with vaccinations. However, I found this book an important resource
in the discussion of vaccinations.
Suppose you have kids and you really can't rest. Either pay for a babysitter for infants and toddlers. Use, in this rare instance, the television as a babysitter, or enlist the help of your husband. When my children were young, my husband worked way too many hours to be of much babysitting help. So, I would keep a special video on hand for occasions like this.
OK, you can't afford a babysitter and your kids are really young. Then reevaluate your plans for the day. If it doesn't need to be done, don't do it. And that includes laundry, play group, etc. Ask your significant other to pick up something at the supermarket that doesn't require cooking.
Most of all, don't feel guilty. I find that it my patients take it easy and rest up for a day in the early stages of an illness, they can avoid a more serious illness. That means, that cold that always goes into the lungs, won't.
The herbs fennel and anise can be extremely helpful to decrease flatulence. Both can be easily found in health food stores or ethnic food stores. And both make delicious teas. Either eat ½ teaspoon of the herb or use 1-2 teaspoons for a tea.
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2002 Dr. Suzanne C. Lawton, LLC