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 »
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 »
The Middle East is imploding. Israel has “mowed the lawn” in Gaza, wreaking havoc on the Palestinian population. Hamas, aggressively or defensively, has launched hundreds of rockets, their goal to terrify the Israelis. Assad has slaughtered over 100,000 Syrians. ISIS pushes to establish a modern Caliphate, killing its way to the very gates of the ancient capital of Babylon. At the same time Afghanistan is collapsing, Libya has become a failed state, Egypt is under martial control once again, and the Arab Spring has given way to a cold, uncertain winter.
Discussions about health care reform tend to focus on payment methods. Critics assert that insurance companies (in concert with pharmaceutical companies and hospitals) are the primary causes of runaway costs. While there is a relationship between payment methods and quality of care, too much time has been spent on the former part of the equation. To reform the American health care system we must begin our analysis by looking more deeply into how care is delivered. Read the rest of this entry »
I have treated many performers: musicians, actors and dancers. They are a colorful, exciting group of men and women who choose to follow their dreams, listen to their inner voices, and dedicate their lives to the creative process. I respect and admire them.
A particular subgroup of that culture has become a treatment niche of mine: the tribe of circus performers. I have treated trapeze artists for shoulder injuries, contortionists for low back pain, and clowns for a multitude of “clown injuries”, ranging from falling off chairs (backwards) onto their backs to sliding down poles upside down and hitting their heads. (Ouch!) Read the rest of this entry »
A few weeks ago, a patient gleefully told me that he had gotten excellent new health insurance through his employer. The coverage included more chiropractic visits than his previous insurance plan, yet his co-pay was still minimal.