Can Love Help People Heal?

The Community Pain Center had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Dean Ornish at the 2014 Lifestyle Medicine Conference. We asked him, “How do we change the perspective on using love in medicine?” His response surprised us. Watch the video below to see why.

Who is Dean Ornish, MD?

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How to Enjoy the Holidays Despite Chronic Pain

By Laura Walker, CPC Content Director

Whatever your holiday plans may be we hope that a top priority is to have compassion and take good care of yourself. The holidays don’t have to be stressful. Here are some strategies for enjoying the festivities just by changing your
perspective.

  1. Just say “NO.” If you don’t feel up to hosting the get-together, be OK with someone else taking it on.



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I Am Truly Grateful for What Crohn’s Disease Taught Me

By Thomas Robinson

I have had Crohn’s disease for 19 years. During those years, there were times when my symptoms were so awful I felt like I would be better off dead. But those times notwithstanding, I am truly grateful for all the things my illness taught me. Learning them has changed my life for the better in more ways than I can count.

I am also grateful that I was open enough to learn the lessons Crohn’s had to teach me. I hate to imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t been.

While my illness has been a great teacher,
living with it has been one of the most
difficult ordeals I have ever faced.

My symptoms were painful and debilitating. They included: losing so much weight that I was almost literally skin and bones; loss of bowel control accidents; disabling muscle weakness; passing out while standing; acute fatigue; night sweats so profuse I had to change my bed sheets twice a night; and intense, unpredictable pain and swelling in my arms, legs, hands and feet that made it hard for me to do everyday things like walk or hold a pen.

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How Self-Empowered Pain Management Set Me Free

By Laura Morris

…empowering ourselves to partner with our doctors and pain management programs, as well as seek out alternative modalities of wellness, will bring greater benefits long term in our overall quality of life.

As a fibromyalgia patient for more than 30 years, I put most of my trust in Western medical doctors to take care of me, at least in the beginning. That’s what we do because insured health care is set up that way. It’s also what’s drummed into us growing up, and I want to make clear at the outset of this article, that doctors do their very best to help us get well with the information they have been taught to use as scientists.

We get sick, and it’s up to those with the degrees and all the scientific information to create treatment plans that generate the best possible outcome with the data they can gather. However, I have come to believe through many years of sometimes agonizing experience and plenty of research, that empowering ourselves to partner with our doctors and pain management programs, as well as seek out alternative modalities of wellness, will bring greater benefits long term in our overall quality of life.


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Top 10 Things NOT to Say to Someone Living with Chronic Pain

By Melinda Malott

I came of age during the Letterman years. I was working as a registered nurse on the 3-11 shift and I would come home just in time for Dave’s top ten list. Most of them left me howling and helped dissolve any leftover stress from the evening shift.

Did I ever think I would be penning my own top 10 list? Of course not! Did I ever think I would be the “patient” for an extended period of time? No way! So it’s with a bittersweet well of emotion that I pen this list.

Take this list and print it and give it to your friends and family; get it posted in
newsletters, bulletins or any place
that might catch someone’s eye.

[Click the image below to enlarge, right click and “Save Image As” to download to your system.]

I’m not a particularly overdramatic or oversensitive kind of girl, but honestly the things that have been said to me over the past eight years in regard to my illness (CFIDS/fibromyalgia) have blown me away. Honestly, people don’t think. I know that some people just don’t know what to say, so they fumble and sometimes a gold nugget emerges, but mostly a lump of coal.

So with that said here is my top ten list (thanks David Letterman) of things NOT to say to someone with chronic pain.

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The Inside Scoop on Applying for
Disability Benefits

By Kristen Lavoie

 

Whether you’re a patient, caregiver, or
physician who wants to learn more about
disability benefits—you’ll want to read this.

A helpful tool is the residual functional capacity (RFC) evaluation process: When applying for disability, the following may serve as helpful information for both the applicant and their treating physicians, either past or present.

In order to improve an applicant’s chances of getting disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, one particularly helpful tip involves making sure your physician has the most effective, proper documentation in your medical records.

Although this process isn’t mentioned on the official Social Security website, it may serve as a vital tool in making sure your disability claim is adequate enough to warrant you the benefits you need.

An important responsibility of both the applicant AND their medical team is to prove what potential occupational activities the patient is capable of performing and what his or her limitations are. When a claims examiner contacts the physicians listed on the patient’s disability application, those physicians must be able to provide very specific documentation about their patient’s limitations. (Note: It is most helpful for a patient to list physicians on their disability application who have regularly and most recently treated them; and for those physicians to prepare and compile specific documentation—verses a physician who saw the applicant once years ago).

A physician can help significantly to ensure that a patient acquires disability benefits by conducting a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment. You can read more about the RFC assessment here. A patient’s RFC refers to a patient’s remaining abilities despite any limitations from his or her impairment. The RFC evaluation assesses a patient’s capacity to do work-related physical and mental tasks on a regular and continuing basis—which means eight hours a day, five days a week.
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Why Patient Care Needs To Get Personal

By David L. Katz, MD; Chief Medical Officer of the Community Pain Center

 

Patient-centered care is an important concept, but may not take the matter far enough—because a “patient” is still generic.

Truly good medical care must be, in a word: personal. Not about a patient in general, but when you are the patient, all about you.

This is, superficially, a very obvious contention—of course the care you receive should be about you. And my experience suggests that most clinicians not only embrace this perspective, but doubt there is an alternative.

My vantage point for this observation? For a span of eight years, I was the Director of Medical Studies in Public Health at the Yale School of Medicine. Basically, this meant I had responsibility for teaching public health and related subjects to Yale medical students.

The students’ interest in public health was generally tepid at best (as was that of most of my colleagues in practice), largely because they didn’t come to medical school to learn how to care for the public; they came to learn how to care for patients, one at a time. Individualized care was what mattered.

Or so they thought. In fact, focusing care on individuals is difficult at best, and at worst, downright impossible. If it were otherwise, care that’s all about individuals might actually prevail.

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What Does Being an E-Health Advocate
Mean to Me?

by Julie Ryan

Blue E-Health Button on White Computer Keyboard

E-health is a big topic right now, whether we realize it or not. New laws are requiring that doctors put records online, which should mean that we, as patients, have easier access to our own health information, but it may not. The move to e-health is a slow one and has only just begun. As a patient, being an e-health advocate is important to me, but it’s about a lot more than just my medical records. Being an e-health advocate means that I am attempting to use the internet to make a difference not only in my own health, but for others as well. Specifically, being an e-health advocate means:
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Syndromic Success

By David L. Katz, MD; Chief Medical Officer of the Community Pain Center

 

There are few things more vexing to patient and doctor alike than dealing with a syndrome—a condition that has a recognizable cluster of characteristic symptoms (what the patient feels) and/or signs (what the doctor finds on examination or testing)—but no known cause, no confirmatory test, and often, no certain approach to treatment. As an example, acute infection with Borrelia burgdorferi is Lyme disease; the symptoms that sometimes linger for years after a bout of Lyme disease is treated constitute a syndrome.

Migräne Anfall Cluster Kopfschmerzen

The challenge of living with a syndrome confronts millions of Americans. Roughly 1% to 2% of the US population, or some 4 million people, have fibromyalgia. Chronic fatigue syndrome affects approximately 800,000. As many as 50,000,000 of us have irritable bowel syndrome. Nearly 40,000,000 women have premenstrual syndrome. Interstitial cystitis plagues some 700,000 women, and nearly 28 million adults in the US have a migraine headache syndrome.

If you are a member of the enormous population that suffers from one or more syndromes, you can get good medical care. But you have to know how.

Syndromes often must be diagnosed on the basis of symptoms and signs alone, in the
absence of any characteristic
laboratory test findings.

There are several important differences between syndromes and diseases that have implications for the care provided and received. Because a disease has a cause that is known to one degree or another, it is often verifiable through diagnostic testing, such as blood tests or x-rays. Syndromes often must be diagnosed on the basis of symptoms and signs alone, in the absence of any characteristic laboratory test findings. They are often called “diagnoses of exclusion,” meaning a syndrome is diagnosed when testing rules out everything else!
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Patient Power: 3 Strategies to Improve
Provider Relationships

By Joy H. Selak, PhD

 

  •  Hire the Right Doctors, Fire the Wrong Ones
  •  Become a Prepared, Professional Patient
  •  Join a ‘Good Doctor Club’

 

Female doctor and patient

…over the years, I’ve enjoyed a consistently rising trajectory toward accessing
more effective and supportive care,
more quickly.

As the author of You Don’t LOOK Sick! Living Well with Invisible Chronic Illness, I’ve been fortunate to work closely with an outstanding physician, my co-author, Dr. Steven Overman. I’ve also had the opportunity to speak to many illness support groups about the challenges pain patients face in building an effective, supportive relationship like this with their physicians. I had been living in the illness world for many years before I found Dr. Overman, and have worked with many other treating physicians in other cities before and since. I’ve had both good and bad experiences in building these relationships, but over the years, I’ve enjoyed a consistently rising trajectory toward accessing more effective and supportive care, more quickly. I hope that by sharing just a few of my adopted strategies, I can offer patients a head start on their own journey.
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