Ricky's Riffs:

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


Book Review: “Witches, Nurses and Midwives” by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English

May 17th, 2018

Witches, Nurses, Midwives (WNM) is one of the seminal works of second-wave feminism.  It was written in 1973 by two professors at State University of New York at Westbury, a new public college. At SUNY Westbury the curriculum included alternative subjects, such as Women’s Studies, and served a student body of older, ethnically diverse and working class students. Professor Barbara Ehrenreich went on to become one of our most important cultural critics; Professor Deirdre English, a prominent journalist, author, and an editor for Mother Jones.

This book was originally published as a pamphlet.  Passed from person to person, it became an underground classic, addressing power, misogyny, and class struggle in the evolution of American medicine and health care.Read the rest of this entry »


Book Review: “Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery”

July 12th, 2017

Crooked Book CoverI first heard about Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery from a patient of mine who was about to undergo his second spinal surgery.

“Wow, she really trashes chiropractic big time,” he let me know. “And I think the book is getting a lot of notice.”

So first, a disclaimer: I am a chiropractor.

But I am not one to shy away from criticism, so I immediately bought the book and started reading.  Granted, it was hard for me to take in the venomous barrage aimed at my profession. But I plowed forward.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 »


Empathy, Patient Centered Care and Healing

September 30th, 2015

Carlos presented in the clinic, walking stiffly.  He wore a green asbestos suit and steel toed boots.  The distinctive chemical smell of the steel mill where he worked clung to him like a second skin.  Carlos is a welder. He wields a blow torch for most of his day.  Large pieces of steel hanging from gigantic chains and pulleys circle above and around him.  One by one, he maneuvers them into a position where he can begin the fiery work of melting them down and reshaping them.

There are open fires in the big, hangar-like space where Carlos works.  A toxic cloud hangs over the building, penetrating the clothing and skin of all who are exposed.  The ground shakes every 15 minutes or so from a machine in the next building as it pounds tons of molten steel into new forms.  After awhile, one doesn’t notice these little earthquakes.  They just blend in with the sounds of saws, trucks and the loud whistles that signal break time.

The work is tough but lucrative, especially for a recent arrival from Mexico.  A union job.  Seventeen dollars per hour, English not required.  But it takes a toll on the body.  One day, after three years on the job, Carlos bent over to pick up his blow torch and felt a sharp lower back pain that radiated into his right buttock.  It was enough to stop him from going on.  He reported the injury to his supervisor, who filled out a work injury report and sent Carlos to the clinic where I work to be examined and treated.  While Carlos was glad to get the medical attention, he was also thinking about missed time from work, lost pay and his family.  As there were rumors that another round of layoffs was coming, he was feeling very anxious.Read the rest of this entry »


From Stools to Thrones: The Chair and Its Discontents…or, How Chairs Tell Us Who We Are

March 6th, 2015

The objects with which we surround ourselves serve multiple functions. On the one hand they may be utilitarian: dressers, chairs, and desks that support our home and work lives. At the same time, they tell us and others who we are. Does our home or office convey sophistication (elegant furniture), intelligence (books) or artiness (paintings and sculpture)? Are we practical (sparely furnished rooms) or frivolous (surrounded by knick-knacks)?

These objects can also convey status and authority. A king’s throne, for example, sits squarely in the middle of the reception hall. It is likely the most ornately carved piece of furniture in the room and is placed on a platform, denoting power and proximity to God. Or take in contrast the simple stool, without frills, designating its user as a worker focused on completing a singular task.

Both “chairs” serve a function and tell a story. Like that king and those workers, we create our worlds with purpose.Read the rest of this entry »


“Sitting is the New Smoking”: “7 on Your Side” Featuring Dr. Ricky Fishman

January 29th, 2015

The utility of sit/stand desks is finally hitting the mainstream. Here is a Channel 7 segment that was on “Seven On Your Side” with Michael Finney. I am featured:)

Feel free to make comments or get in touch with me with any questions about the revolution taking place in the field of work site ergonomics.

Click below and enjoy!