I recently had an opportunity to visit the Jim Pattison pain clinic in Surrey, BC, Canada. It is a breathtaking building with beautiful architecture and bright open spaces with tons of huge windows that really balance out the building. The main floor is expansive and well thought out, and I was very impressed with the use of technology. There are kiosk machines that allow you to register your appointment by using your BC medical card. Pretty slick, you just enter your information and the machine ejects a receipt which tells you exactly which floor to go to for your appointment.
As a former computer technician, I was inspired with the ‘flow’ of patient traffic that I observed. Someone was thinking when they designed the pain center. It was put together like a customized computer or printer. O.K. so I’m a little different and think in terms of computer hardware, but the building just made so much sense to me. So, lets continue with the tour and the experience.
My Doctor put in a request for me to go to the pain clinic just a few months ago, so I assumed that it wouldn’t take that long to get in. After about one month of waiting, I phoned the pain clinic myself and asked when I could get in, and they told me that it could take over one year. One year? That was more than a little strange to me, and I asked the receptionist why it would take so long just to get into a pain clinic, and she reminded me that it was just the way it was. It was incredulous that in this modern day if someone has chronic pain they had to wait over one year for any help at all. Is this the price we pay for socialized medicine? or is it that the amount of chronic pain sufferers has simply overwhelmed the system?
Well, then comes the interesting turn of events. I got a call just a few days ago from the pain clinic, and they told me to come in the following Monday. I was deliriously happy. I don’t know how it happened, or who to thank, but I got into the pain clinic in just a few months. My faith in the system is now fully restored. That’s not the neat part. Wait until I tell you about the technology that they are thinking of using on me. First, let me explain what happens when you see one of the very competent pain specialists.
There is a prerequisite before you see a pain specialist for evaluation. You need to fill out a twelve page form that is quite detailed and from what I can gather from the questions, paints a picture of your pain tolerance, present attitude toward recovery, physiological stability and many other areas that will help the doctor not only establish lines of communications, but probably wants to know how much time and effort you will put into your own recovery. After all, the pain professionals need to know what to expect when working with you. I had three main goals that I put on the report. They are, in no particular order:
(1) Get rid of the excruciating pain in my neck, jaw and forehead. (2) Help me get rid of the constant headaches and (3) Stop, control or otherwise take away the twitching that I have been experiencing for over four months.
The Doctor is planning to do what they call a ‘nerve conduction test’ where they insert needles (I hate needles) in certain parts of my body, then run low voltage, low current through the needles and then find out how fast the electricity flows across certain nerves. (At least, I think that’s the way it should work) Then, they collect the data and compare it to some kind of a baseline to be able to interpret the findings. I’m not really sure of the order, but there are two other things that the pain Doctor is going to try.
Nerve Blockers. It’s formal name is called ‘Medial branch block’ on the Facet Joint. Basically, its an injection of local freezing to block the nerve to a facet joint. Facet joints are small joints between each of the bones of the spine. If that is successful, and I get relief from the injections, then we move onto the next step, which is:
Radiofrequency Lesioning. Essentially, they again use needles (whats with the needles all the time) and use the needles to send radio waves (heat that burns the nerve endings) and they pass then heat through for about 2 minutes to prevent the nerve from carrying pain signals. This kind of procedure is fascinating in that, they may not be able to completely ‘burn’ the nerve endings and kill them completely. The nerves may grow back in the future. I am looking forward to doing anything that will give me relief. This adventure has allot of fun and interesting twists. It’s important for me to blog about my recovery because I have found out that there are chronic pain sufferers out there that are in constant need of either support, honesty, a helping hand up or some questions answered. As a matter of fact, I was in exactly the same position many months ago when the pain got so bad, it literally put my life on hold until I could collect my thoughts and start thinking about what I was going to do, and how I was going to do it. First were my thoughts on pain management, and now my thoughts turn to my recovery mode.
Well, it’s about time I iced my neck. Until next blog, see you later (and remember to stretch before walking). Rick Haaland
Because of a ‘trapped nerve’ in my neck, all three of my web properties: Abbotsford Small Business, Eflexonics and Healthy Tech Talk will see very limited activity for the next few months. I am hoping to have the issue resolved as soon as I can, but, to all of my blog readers that have had a pinched nerve, you know that sometimes it can be a fairly complicated process. Typing can be an exercise in pain all by itself.
There are however, some exciting projects happening in the background that I can tell you about. I have found a former Reflexology student of Yvette Eastman’s and he wants to do a video podcast show on the ‘Healthy Tech Talk’ blog. I have been talking to him and we are both very excited about creating a series for our viewers.
One of my health professionals has suggested to me that it would be a great form of therapy to actually blog and podcast (when I can) about my recovery, and since I am a blogger by nature, it looks like a great fit. If you haven’t been following my adventures about my injury when it started last year, I’ll do what I can to keep you ‘up to date’ with my condition.
At the moment, about the only activity I could do successfully would be ‘movie critic’ (thank you Netflix) and in the meantime will be asking the internet what shows they would like to see in the future. Thanks everyone for your support. I will ‘blog at you later’.
Rick Haaland, owner of eflexonics. (Holistic Technology Brokers)
So, what happens when your in excruciating pain and your ready to ‘throw in the towel?’ Do you really feel like recording what is happening to your mind and body at that specific time. Of course your not. That’s why I recommend that you check out and purchase ‘Manage my pain pro’ application for android if you are a pain sufferer.
Sleeping is one of the best ways we have to recharge our batteries, heal, repair, energize and restore ourselves to normalcy. Pat and I have wanted to purchase black out curtains for several years, but when we discovered they were on sale for 1/2 price, we just about stumbled over each other trying to get out the door to go and get them. They are beautiful, and not only that, they block sound, and act as an insulator for your windows. Take a look at this quick video for more. Thanks. Rick and Pat.
This podcast really opened our eyes. Brian had to go to Scottsdale, Arizona to have the operation. Fascinating interview. Enjoy
Do you ever wonder about our medical system in Canada? If you have talked to anyone who has had to go to the United States to have any procedure done, you will soon find out that the States have technology that we can only dream about. Case in point, my friend Brian Okeefe had a procedure done and for the first time in many years, he is completely pain free.
Apparently, the same company that offers this wonderful service has approached the Canadian government, and they haven’t committed either way. When you hear of these stories, it makes you wonder why everyone can’t get along and become partners in technology that could not only relieve pain and suffering, but put many people back to work. If you want to leave us your opinion, simply type it in on ‘leave a reply’ area below. Thank you, Rick and Pat.
Tell me something. Did you pick your present job because you thoroughly checked out the company, its ethics, culture, corporate image and employee environment, or did you just throw a bunch of resumes out at the world and hoped at least one of them would stick? If you did, your not alone. Millions of folks just don’t have a choice and need to work virtually anywhere in order to keep it all together. So, what happens if you find yourself in a situation that is less than acceptable and you aren’t as enthusiastic about your job or career as you thought you would be? Remind yourself that it is only temporary, and that you still have the ability to react positively and to control your next move.
If you have become complaisant, check out your present companies benefits packages to see if they offer any form of counselling services that you can tap into. The worst feeling in the world for is to suggest to yourself that you might be stuck in a dead end job and not following the path that makes you extremely happy (or at least relatively satisfied) When I worked at one of the largest call centers in North America, I worked along side of people who had their PHD’s, one fellow was actually a brain surgeon, and others had years and years of post secondary education in their chosen fields and simply could not find work anywhere and had to ‘wait it out’ until their personal situation improved. Inside the call centre (at maximum capacity the building held 1800 employees) there were people from all walks of life, with many levels of, well, lets say determination, enthusiasm and involvement.
Now, I can hear a bunch of you heckling me in the background and saying ‘Yes, but I don’t have any post secondary education to further my situation’, and that’s a very fair statement. Here’s my answer. Most companies now have some kind of program in place where they will actually sponsor you to go to school. That’s right, they will pay for your courses, as long as they are marketable for the company, and as long as you pass all of your studies. That sounds like an interesting proposition doesn’t it? I mean, let’s look at it from a different perspective. The majority of people will tell you that, in order to get the job or career you truly want you need some kind of post secondary education. Why not take advantage of the incredible opportunities that await you.
I personally know someone who completed a full marketing program at a local university. It took him a couple of years, and he had to initially pay for the courses semester after semester but the company paid his back in full. Imagine, getting paid to go to school. Interesting concept. The reason I threw this idea at you is because if you are struggling, becoming stagnant or just plain dis-interested in your workplace, this might just be the lifeline your looking for.
The real purpose of this blog entry is to let you know that there are always some sort of positive change or action you can take, even if your particular situation seems less than stellar, there’s always hope. And, if you still can’t see the positive side of life, go back and re-read our third entry in our Office Place Stress series, and that is to take brisk walks, often and enthusiastically. Hey, that’s one of the prescriptions a medical doctor may suggest to you for depression, and that is to do allot of walking.
I read an incredible book a few years ago called ‘The Breathing Book’ by Donna Farhi. In the book, she makes some remarkable claims that we don’t really think about that much. She says that when you walk on pavement, your body goes into a kind of ‘mini spasm’ and your internal organs tense up quite a bit, and that exact tensing moment really plays havoc with your breathing.
When your walking along, your vision is, of course focused on looking straight ahead. Some of that field of vision can actually see part of the ground directly in front of your feet, and then sends a signal to your brain saying ‘look out, we know that’s pavement (really hard unforgiving ground) your about to walk on, and the involuntary body tensing begins, and interrupts your breathing pattern allot. See the amazing things that you find out when you read?
The author takes you through the very real benefits of showing you just how important the art and science of breathing is all about. I practice breathing 3 times per day when I study Chi Kung and Yang Style Tai Chi. You just would not believe the difference between putting your breathing patterns on auto pilot, or making a concentrated effort to practice healthy breathing. It improves digestion, healing, improves oxygen delivery to the lungs, provides mental clarity and the list goes on and on.
Have you ever observed the way a baby breathes? From the lower tummy, or abdomen, not the chest, and that’s the challenge with most of us. We breathe from the wrong place in our bodies. As we grow up we inherently forget that we slowly change many things in our lives. We get busy and accept more ‘responsibility’ like school, then perhaps pose secondary education such as college or university, and then you get a job, have a mortgage, have kids, then your paying for someone else’s post secondary education. Stress causes us to do many things, including how not to properly breathe. It’s just one of those things that we take for granted, but don’t give it much thought. After all, we all know how to breathe right? Perhaps. All I know is that when I practice my Chi Kung and Tai Chi, it is a gentle reminder how to gain benefits from a very powerful and popular form of Kung Fu that has been successfully used in China for thousands of years.
How many times have you heard this statement. ‘Just take a walk, you’ll feel great’. And you wonder, where did they pull that slogan out of? Well, if we look just a little deeper in the benefits of walking during your day, I’ll just bet that you would be surprised at all of the incredible life changing (yes, life changing) things that you can achieve from a really brisk walk. Especially, if you use a computer all day like I do. Today for example, I did a power walk that would put a greyhound to shame. (Okay, if it had the flu, an injured leg and poor eyesight) but the point remains that I took the time out of my day to goble down some lunch and get out there in the sunshine. And, for all of you logical people who just have to know all of the exact details of what a brisk walk can do for you, here’s the list.
1) Walking is absolutely free, and can be done almost anywhere.
2) Walking fits everyone of all ages, shapes and sizes.
3) Walking can be an extremely challenging form of exercise
4) Walking can be integrated into everyone’s lifestyle relatively easily.
5) Walking is a very low strain on the feet, joints and body, and risk of injury is very low.
6) Reduces heart disease, lowers cholesterol, lowers blood pressure.
7) Reduces body fat, enhances mental well-being. Increases bone density, reducing the risk of cancer of the colon, helps to control body weight, helps increase flexibility and coordination, and if that’s not all,
8) Its allot of fun!
Oh, and while were on the subject, lets talk about ‘Work Place Walking’.
1) Improved productivity.
2) Fewer insurance and compensation claims.
3) Fewer absenteeism.
4) Decreased accidents.
5) Reduced staff turnover.
6) Lower cost related to retirement, training and orientation.
7) Improved attitude toward the organization and higher staff morale.
8) A more receptive climate for, and ability to cope with workplace changes.
9) Enhanced business.
This will be a great series on office place stress, and what you can do to stop it dead in its tracks. OK, perhaps not dead in its tracks, but you’ll at least be able to categorize, condense, prioritize and realize that office place stress can be just a figment or your imagination. Here’s what we can do together.
First, know that however bad your office place stress gets, you get to make some decisions. For example, take a look at your typical day and gauge your office work place on a scale of 10 to 1. 10 being the worse stress you can take, and 1 being the least. Here is a fantastic revelation that you might want to keep to yourself. Say for example you have a stress level that is way out there. I mean, on the drive to work, your anxiety is through the roof. Where do you store your tension? Where are you most vulnerable physically. Personally, I tend to hold my tension and stress in my lower abdomen. So, I consciously focus my breathing on my lower abdomen, and with every breath I take, allow the relaxation process to enhance the experience. By the time I get to work, I find I have much, much more energy that I would ordinarily have had I not relaxed for the entire drive in. (Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that I get to listen to my favourite podcast’s as well)
Your office place stress will be there when you get to work, so, why allow it to get the best of you on the drive to work? Think about this. When you combine all the stress and tension that is going to get thrown at you in your day, and your doing what you’ve always done (allow parts of your body and mind to literally freeze up) isn’t it about time you did something different? How long do you intend to go on torturing yourself with your specific type and brand of anxiety? There is hope for you, even though you may think that there isn’t.
THE FIRST STEP: SET REALISTIC GOALS FOR Y0UR SELF. In this day and age, I know that almost every business is expecting more out of you with less time available. The one thing that you need to do is to take stock of your abilities and be really honest about the work load you can handle. This will no doubt take some real soul searching to find out what is fair, honest and doable. Sit down with your immediate supervisor and set some guidelines on how you need to approach your workload. This should be a team effort because if if you don’t work as a team, it’s going to be a might long day, and for some of you, a long year.
Both of you should start by putting together a list of expectations. Really, a form of procedures that you can use as an expectation guideline. After all, if you don’t have any kind of procedure list, how will you ever know if your meeting the expectations set before you. When I used to work for IBM, Microsoft, HP and Toshiba, we had very specific training and a mini printed manual called a complete ‘scope of work’ where every single step was documented so that there should be very few if any questions after you have been trained in a particular platform, whether it was software related for Microsoft, or hardware break/fix based for Toshiba when you need to fix a huge four foot long plotter.
A basic procedure manual is so vitally important that, if your place of work doesn’t have them or support using them, you can always have employees pointing their fingers at each other saying ‘it’s not my fault, its his or hers’. Procedure manuals give direction, essential training, responsibility, traceability and sense of accomplishment. If there are no basic procedure manuals or guidelines, why not volunteer to create one for your company in the exact department you work in.