Ricky's Riffs:

Random Thoughts on Travel, Education, Health, and the World in General


Trump Excitement Disorder (TED)…or Tribal Fever

March 7th, 2017

The shock of Donald Trump’s election has left many people disoriented.  Assumptions about the nature and order of the world have been upended.

Few, but not all, on the left side of the political spectrum believed Trump could be elected.  Yet here we are, six weeks into a Trump presidency.  He has moved with lightning speed, issuing executive orders at a dizzying pace, working diligently to undo the work of President Obama.

I described some of the effects of Trump’s election in my last piece “Trump Induced Stress Disorder: A New Diagnosis for a New Era”.  In that article, I described the physical and emotional effects on the millions of people who were aghast at his electoral victory.

But the Trump supporters are now displaying their own spectrum of signs and symptoms. I label their syndrome “Trump Excitement Disorder,” or TED.Read the rest of this entry »


Trump Induced Stress Disorder (TISD): A New Diagnosis for a New Era

January 3rd, 2017

On November 9, 2016 I was in my office, getting ready to see patients. It was the morning after Donald Trump had been elected President of the United States of America.

His election sent shock waves through the country and the world.

A dark cloud seemed to hang over my patients.  Most expressed disbelief that this person—one who ran a campaign of misogyny, racism and Islamophobia, who lied with impunity and who picked as his vice presidential running mate a hard core homophobe and creationist—could possibly win.  Yet he had.

The election of Donald Trump has no parallel in modern (or perhaps in all of) United States history. I have been trying to understand it. One way I have found is to think of Trump’s ascendance as an exotic virus that has entered our national bloodstream, infecting the body politic.  I call it “Trump Induced Stress Disorder,” or TISD.Read the rest of this entry »


Pain and Suffering of the Digital Natives

October 25th, 2016

“Digital natives” are those young women and men who have been raised from childhood on computers. We see them everywhere:  Toddlers in strollers playing with iPhones, pre-teens on iPads in restaurants, strategically distracted to allow their parents to eat in peace; Junior High and High School kids doing schoolwork on laptops in the classroom or at home, sitting or lying in bed.

For the digital native, the computer is an extension of his or her body.  By the time they enter pre-school, many can navigate apps.  Ten-year olds can program software. Adolescents live their social lives on tiny screens.  Most of the digital native’s life runs through this digital medium.

Read the rest of this entry »


Incrementalism vs. Revolution in Health Care, Part 2: Is Obamacare Crashing?

August 26th, 2016

The recent announcement that Aetna would be pulling out of a large number of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) exchanges, affirms a fundamental truth about health care and insurance in our country. Business and health care do not mix.

The ultimate goal of health care is to heal patients.  The goal of private industry, based upon shareholder mandate, is to generate profits.Read the rest of this entry »


Interview With Michael Finney–On the Direction of Health Care, 6/4/16

July 15th, 2016

Here is a radio interview I did with Michael Finney, KGO TV (Channel 7) consumer news reporter, on the direction I see health care moving in this country. We talked, among other things, about the differences, and similarities, between Bernie and Hillary on how we get to universal coverage. I explained to Michael how the changes in the health care system over the last several years have deeply impacted providers; about how most people have no idea about the reimbursement cuts most doctors have had to take; and more. So check it out and feel free to let me know your thoughts on this subject.

 


A World of Pain

June 30th, 2016

In our highly medicated society, Americans consume more mind and mood altering drugs—legal, illegal and prescribed–than any other people in the world.  Cocaine, heroin, marijuana, Xanax, Ambien, Atavan, alcohol and many more: a full spectrum of pain, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant and stimulating medications.

We all know people affected by the overuse of these substances. Some of us know people who have died from them.

But why are we in so much pain?  So depressed?  Why can’t we sleep? Or focus?Read the rest of this entry »


Revolution or Incrementalism: The Battle Over American Health Care

May 14th, 2016

As a health care provider, I have followed his year’s democratic presidential race with great interest. One major policy difference between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton is that Bernie is pushing for a single payer model and Hillary wants to “build” on the Affordable Care Act that was passed under President Obama.

Here are a few of my thoughts on the subject.Read the rest of this entry »


Music, Art and Revolution: Cuba, 2016

March 22nd, 2016

Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport is typical of many airports in the “developing” world—one terminal and one carousel for our bags (AND the bags of another two flights coming in right after us).  After an hour of chaos, we found our last piece of luggage and boarded our bus into Havana.

The first thing I noticed were the old American cars.  I recalled these from my previous trip to Cuba, in 1989.  Surely, I thought, they could not still be on the road–at least not in the same numbers.

Photo by Cheryl Lucanegro

Photo by Cheryl Lucanegro

But there they were, by the dozens, clogging the traffic flow, held together with spare parts and Cuban ingenuity: Chevys, Cadillacs and Buicks, spewing diesel smoke in all of their boxy, 1950’s glory.

And there was something else striking about the cityscape: it was completely devoid of billboards.  No public promotion of soft drinks, beauty products and/or the services of personal injury lawyers.

images-4Instead, I saw large political signs proclaiming “Socialism O Muerte” (Socialism or Death) or “Con Cuba Siempre” (With Cuba Always); most with images of Fidel Castro and/or Che Guevara, along with an assortment of other revolutionary “heroes.”Read the rest of this entry »


NAMM 2016: Music, Mayhem and an Ergonomic Review!

February 9th, 2016

I’ve just gotten back from my fourth NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show in Anaheim, CA.  NAMM is a yearly gathering of makers and sellers of instruments, amplification systems, headphones, concert lighting, digital interfaces and many more tools for the musician.

The show is not open to the public. I attend as a volunteer with MusiCares, the health care arm of the Grammy Foundation. In that role, I spend time in the Musicares booth, advising musicians on health issues–from proper lifting techniques and nutrition to recommendations about stools, straps and other ergonomic equipment.

Then, as my rock and roll self, I cruise the Convention Center halls:  four floors packed with the latest equipment, from the classics—Gibson, Fender, Taylor, Rhodes—to the small boutique producers. Companies with names like TecAmp, Resonance N’goni, and Hapi Drum, who are creating high quality gear in small workshops around the world. Basses and guitars that you’ll never find at Guitar Center; high end amps and instruments that even I had never seen before.Read the rest of this entry »


A New Year, A New You: Some Perspectives on Integrative Health and Healing

December 7th, 2015

Co-written with Allie Stark, MA, RYT

In the world of wellness, the New Year is a business opportunity. The health industry can’t help but take advantage of the many people looking for salves, supplements, and “booty busting” exercises to make you, the best new you. And while eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and de-cluttering your house are certainly of value, they can also be distractions; one-off actions focused on symptoms rather than deeper forces at play.

Rather than seeing our health concerns accurately–as linked to our own mind/bodies and the world around us–we often tend to look beyond ourselves for explanations and solutions. It is important for us to understand why we see the world in the ways that we do. Otherwise we will seek answers that are of limited scope and value.Read the rest of this entry »