Newsletter #40 - November 2004
In this issue:
-- Dear Friends from Dr Paul Lam
-- Photos of Stockholm and San Diego
-- TCA in an Out-Patient Rehabilitation Setting by Steve Walden
-- My Escape from Death by Ted Saji
-- Smoking. Your New Year’s Resolution? By Your_Health an Australian Medical Newsletter
Click on the title to read the article, and here to read previous newsletters
Years ago when I started conducting Tai Chi for Arthritis workshops around the world, I used to fly in just before and out as soon as the workshop was finished. For example, the only thing I can remember of Alberta, Calgary was the way to and from the airport. Now I’ve changed. I’m trying to arrive one day ahead just in case I miss the flight (which happened on my way to Thunder Bay, Canada early this year), and to spend some time getting to know the place. It’s great getting the feel of the location and people. For example, I found Stockholm beautiful as a combination of nature and culture, and New Zealand beautiful by its natural environment. In a subtle way, the people in these countries reflect and constitute the way their countries are. This understanding helps me to find new ways to communicate with them.
Swedish people are cultural and somewhat conservative. I was impressed with each and every workshop participant taking out a pen and writing pad at the beginning of the workshop. Also, sometimes after I’d teach a movement and we’d practiced it together, I found that some people still didn’t quite get it. I realized that letting them practice on their own for a while worked very well. When working with shy and conservative people, I have discovered that giving people space to work things themselves is more effective. Many New Zealanders, on the other hand, especially the Maori who are natural and spiritual, learn best by the building up of a mutually trusting and respecting relationship right from the beginning.
Stockholm is formed by five islands connected by 20 bridges. Crystal-clear water is everywhere. Magnificent buildings are perfectly placed to enhance the beauty of nature. You have to see it to appreciate its beauty. I will post few photos to give you an idea. The most recent set of my global workshops started with Sweden and ended in San Diego. I’m also including photos of San Diego, which is just as beautiful as Stockholm, although in a different way. Likewise, the people are wonderful in a different way.
This June, I met Steve Walden at the Monterey, California workshop. He’s an inspiration. Certified as legally blind, in his endeavors Steve achieves more than several non-handicapped men put together. I found the nicest thing about him is his enthusiasm to help others. He is so gentle and kind one would never guess that he is a highly trained “lethal weapon.” From his article “TCA in an Out-Patient Rehabilitation Setting, ” you can feel the pleasure he gets from helping people. .
Another inspiration, Ted, I met in San Diego. His fight for life and subsequently better quality of life will inspire many who are challenged by various medical conditions.
The most useful review of this month came from Dahlis regarding the Tai Chi for Older Adults video. She says: “I must admit I passed up this one at first because, approaching 60, I am too 'young' to be an 'older adult.'…I love this video! This is a gentle introduction to Yang Style Tai Chi…The form is easily followed and learned…”
You can read her and other comments at this link.
Hope to see you at an upcoming workshop. Click here for the complete list of coming workshops.
As Christmas is fast approaching purchasing our instructional videos/DVDs maybe a good gift idea for family, friends or yourself. What would be a better gift than health? I would like to offer you a free video/dvd (if DVD is available in the title you choose) for any three you purchase. To take up this offer, please place your order in the usual way and add the title of your free video/DVD and the promotional code "Xmas04" in the 'comment' section.
Lastly please check out the latest workshop photos at the beautiful Christchurch, NZ.
Paul Lam MD
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In August of 2003 I completed the Tai Chi for Arthritis Instructor's course offered by Jay Van Schelt. I started using it in an out-patient rehabilitation unit the following month. The program has been extremely successful and continues to grow and develop, as both the physicians and patients become more aware of the benefits of this form of exercise. The blending of tai chi and physical therapy works well together.
Therapists recognize that many people cannot tolerate nor do not want to exercise in the traditional manner (exercise bikes, resistance training, etc.) used in a physical therapy setting. In contrast, I have found that when patients are shown that tai chi is a form of exercise that moves slowly and can be done to relaxing music, they're willing to try it. Their willingness to exercise leads to greater success in meeting their long-term recovery goals. The following stories could not have happened without the help of Dr. Paul Lam and the Tai Chi for Arthritis program.
In fall of 2003, John, an individual with Parkinson disease began out-patient physical therapy. At the time he entered the unit, he was using a walker to assist with his balance. John was somewhat distressed because he could no longer perform his duties as an usher in his church. His loss of balance caused him to fall. His goal was to return to that position at church. We started using Tai Chi for Arthritis Part I. At first we had to use a gait belt to prevent John from falling down. As he progressed, the belt came off and we moved to the parallel bars. After many weeks of effort, John was doing his tai chi in an open gym area. Seeing his progress, his wife started doing the tai chi program with him. Eight weeks later, John returned to his duties as an usher and was no longer using his walker. John's wife reported that he now has much better balance and rarely stumbles or falls like he did before starting the Tai Chi for Arthritis therapy sessions.
Jane, a patient with fibromyalgia (an arthritis-like disease of the muscles), entered into the out-patient program to seek some relief from the pain and weakness. At the beginning of the therapy program, Jane needed to rest after walking about 50 feet. She started on the parallel bars to keep from falling down. A motivated patient, she followed the program in the therapy unit and at home. Within two week, she reported that she was having to stop less to rest, in four weeks she was off of the parallel bars and into the open gym area. At eight weeks she could work out for 40 minutes without a rest. She continues to use tai chi to help with her medical problems, and has joined our local tai chi class. Jane is the president of a local support group where she has invited me to talk about the benefits of tai chi for people with fibromyalgia
In summary, Tai Chi for Arthritis and physical therapy fit together like hand in glove. Patients like the music and the soft flowing movements of tai chi. The patients have less return trips back to the therapy unit from relapses in their health probably because they can take the tai chi home with them. Patients are more likely to do their tai chi home exercise plan when working with a spouse of another person. Therefore, we now offer to our patients who use the tai chi therapy that they bring a spouse or friend at no charge. Many of our tai chi patients move on to the post class taught by the two TCA certified instructors just a few miles from the therapy unit.
It should be noted that tai chi, does not cure the diseases listed in this article. However, tai chi did help these people have a much improved quality of life with less pain, better balance, strength, and mobility.
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After eating lunch at a restaurant in July 2001, I had had difficulty swallowing. By that evening, I thought I had either food poisoning or allergy. I went to the emergency hospital the next morning; they administered anti-histamine, hoping to get the swelling down but without any success so they admitted me into the hospital.
Subsequently, they had to move me into ICU for monitoring. My airway was obstructed so they had to perform a tracheotomy. For eight weeks, I was on a ventilator with IV tubes as well.
I was told that I might have suffered a mild stroke in the brain stem area. I couldn't feel pain and I had difficulty balancing. I was in and out of the hospital for the balance of the year, concentrating only on rehabilitation. I had so much nerve damage that I couldn't walk and had difficulty moving my limbs. I had to leave my job of 25 years but the worst was not being able to sing. I'd studied singing all my life and the sound coming out of my mouth was now hateful.
That's when I received the phone call form one of my Chinese friends, who referred me to his friend, a Chinese acupuncturist. Even though I harbored some doubts about acupuncture, I decided to give it a try because I was desperate. The doctor made house calls to me twice a week, spending a couple of hours performing acupuncture and massages.
Along with six Western doctors looking after me, my condition has shown some improvements. About a year ago summer, my Chinese doctor told me he was going to give seminars in qigong and tai chi. He wanted me to attend. So, I attended the seminar. I found it different from what Western exercise does. I had been going to physical rehabilitation, where I tried to build up muscles and physical endurance. But with qigong and tai chi, the concentration was on a calm mind, slow deep constant breathing, and a soft relaxed body, all of which enable you to develop good qi circulation. While practicing qigong, I experienced something very amazing. I felt some tingling sensations in fingers of both hands even though the left side of my body had some nerve damage. I thought this thing called qigong just might be able to make me well again. I decided to give it a chance.I found that the slow movements of the tai chi were not so easy for me to follow so in order to keep up with them, I purchased several DVDs and videos and books about tai chi and qigong.
In the Fall of 2003, I was enrolled in several classes-tai chi, qigong and meditation. And even though my movements are still rough, I 'm not only enjoying my classes but I find they're helping both my mental and physical health a lot. I'm convinced that while Western medicine has developed according to the principles of diagnosing visible symptoms and curing the visible damages, Chinese medicine emphasizes prevention through the regulation of the body's qi, which is more advanced than the Western practice.
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There has never been a better time to stop smoking as a New Year's resolution, with recent research showing that up to 2 in 3 smokers will be killed by their habit.
Most smokers wrongly believe that the best way to quit is through willpower alone. However, only about 3-4% of 'cold turkey' quit attempts are successful. The use of medication and the support and counselling from your GP can significantly increase your chance of giving up for good.
- Are you addicted to nicotine? You are likely to be hooked on nicotine if you:
- Smoke within 30 minutes of waking
- Smoke more than 15 cigarettes a day
- Have had cravings or withdrawal symptoms (e.g. irritability, difficulty sleeping) in a previous quit attempt
Addicted smokers are likely to benefit from the temporary use of nicotine replacement products such as the nicotine lozenge, patch, gum, inhaler and under-the-tongue tablets (available over-the-counter from the pharmacy) or bupropion tablets (script only). These medications reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms due to quitting and can double your success rate.
What about weight gain?
Fear of gaining weight after quitting is a major concern for many smokers. However, the average weight gain is much less than most people think - only 2-4 kg. In fact, 1 in 4 quitters loses weight or stays the same.
Weight gain is delayed while taking nicotine 4mg lozenges, nicotine gum and bupropion and this effect can boost your chance of quitting successfully. Try also to eat a low-fat diet, drink lots of water instead of nibbling, have regular exercise and avoid situations where you are tempted to overeat.
Speak to your doctor for further help, ring the Quitline on 13 18 48 or visit www.quitnow.info.au.
END OF NEWSLETTER
Warning: Dr. Lam does not necessarily endorse the opinion of other authors. Before practicing any program featured in this newsletter, please check with your physician or therapist, the authors and anyone involved in the production of this newsletter will not be held responsible in any way whatsoever for any injury which may arise as a result of following the instructions given in this newsletter.
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