Tag-Archive for » surgery «

+ Anxiety medication stopped & more

Nicole (name changed), a patient of my daughter Padma Sripada in her low forties had severe anxiety, sleep disturbances, chronic pains, obesity, grief, panic attacks, smoking addiction and acute fear of upcoming hip surgery (1). She attended her first class at our office (2). After 2 weeks of practicing focusing on breathing, she reported what and when practiced and the benefits (3).

“The breathing meditation is going good. I use it each day, first time in the morning, after work and before bed.

  • I feel less depressed.
  • Sleeping for 6 hours since starting the breathing meditation. I am feeling better being able to sleep longer than 3 hours (4).
  • I am less stressed at my job.
  • No anxiety medication since I started the breathing meditation (5).

My health insurance company approved my hip surgery. I am reluctant to schedule a date because I am scared of being in severe pain after surgery.

I would like to schedule a time to meet with you soon. Any advice and instruction you can teach me, I appreciate.”

(1) Padma Sripada MD
(2) Classes at my office
(3) Focusing on breathing
(4) Relief from sleep problems
(5) Relief from Anxiety
(6) Before and after surgery

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+ Stress reduced

Feedback from Joanne (not real name) who attended my classes along with her husband. Her husband could not come after the first class. She was referred to me by Rani Gandham MD (Pediatrics) for her husband’s sleep problem. He was recovering from major neck surgery. Her responses to my questions is here.

(A) How is your husband doing?

He is doing much better.

(B) What were the problems you had before doing the classes and the stress level at that time?

  • Stressed out thinking about health of husband (his suffering from pains after surgery) was 8 out of 10.
  • My work related stress was 5 out of 10.

(C) The practices that you learned from the classes which worked for you.

  • Realizing from your counseling that in spite of my great love for him and desire to ease his suffering, I can’t share his pains. He alone has to bear them. This thinking eased my stress remarkably.
  • Breathing reduced my overall stress (1).
  • Listening to my networking friend was a recurring source of stress for me. As suggested, I stopped picking up her calls, allowing her to leave a message. This helped.
  • I also practiced the ‘Tongue tip positioning’ suggested at the two times that created lot of stress for me: when listening to my hyper friend and also listening to  the attorneys arguing for their clients as part of my office work. This practice has made a huge difference (2).

(D) Where did you practice?

  • At home
  • At work

(E) The benefits or improvements you felt

I am much calmer.

(1) ‘Focusing on breathing’
(2) Tongue tip positioning (Releasing tension in the jaws) 

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* Seminar at the Hope Club

My monthly seminar at the Hope Club (1) was attended by one woman aged 70 who had surgery and chemotherapy for ovarian cancer at the Albany Medical Center. She is due for CT scan this May. Her sleep was OK before, but now she wakes up around 2 am and has difficulty going back to sleep. At end of the seminar she felt relieved that she will be able to use this technique (2) to get back to sleep and reduce her stress.  

Scanned image of her feedback form

She reported

  • Her expectation from the seminar was fulfilled to grade A+.
  • She would use the technique for her stress over ovarian cancer
  • Her take home from the seminar was “Very relaxed. My shallow breathing has improved.
  • She would recommend the technique to her friend with migraines.

(1) Hope Club of the American Cancer Society
(2)
How Can I Focus On Breathing?

Related pages
Seminars done at the Hope Club

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* Risk factors for death from ‘Cancer’

Many of us are aware of the risk of ‘Heart disease’, know its risk factors like smoking, cholesterol, LDL, stress etc. and take them seriously. But the risk for ‘Cancer’? Not so serious? Wait!

You may be surprised from the US Government data for 2009. According to Center for Disease Control (1), Cancer is the second highest cause of death in the USA, very closely following heart disease. In 2009 heart disease caused 599413 deaths as #1 and Cancer was a close 567628 as #2. Cancer deaths are 95% of heart disease deaths, in spite of all the advances in screening and treatment! How less likely is death from cancer compared with death from heart disease? Hardly any difference.

If cancer is almost as likely to cause death as heart disease, do we know its risk factors? Can we do anything about the risk factors, rather than wait for it to be detected too late, as a death sentence?

I found from my personal experience that these are the popular beliefs and practices

  • Most cancers are genetically influenced and can’t be prevented. Exceptions are caused by smoking, exposure to asbestos and some chemicals.
  • Screening can’t detect all cancers. In some cases, by the time it is detected, it may be too late and it may not be possible to save life, only prolong it by a few years.
  • When it strikes, the treatment options are surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. After successful treatment, its recurrence is very likely and is a life long threat.
  • During and after treatment, hardly any self care prescriptions are given about what a patient can do, to reduce the risk factors and try to prevent its recurrence.

In this context, the book “The Cancer Survivor’s Guide – Foods that help you fight back” (2) by Neal Barnard M.D (3) may deserve your attention. The author cautions that you should involve your doctor in making any dietary changes. Other experts focus on the role of Smoking cessation, Environmental toxins, Exercise, Stress management and Social support in preventing and fighting cancer. Some links are at (4).

I also recommend the guide on “Prostate cancer prevention – Nutrition and Exercise” published by the Prostate cancer foundation (5).

Diet related suggestions from many sources are following. Diet is one of the key factors. Other equally important factors from other sources are exercise, relaxation and social support.

  • Enhance Fiber and cut down Fat: Diets high in fiber and low in fat, reduce the amount of estrogens (female sex hormones) circulating in the bloodstream, reducing the likelihood that cancer cells will multiply or spread. Fiber prevents colon cancer. It strengthens the immune system.
  • Avoid Dairy Products: Typical dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, and so forth) are high in fat and cholesterol. Dairy products appear to play an important role in cancer risk. The Physicians’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study found that men who frequently consume dairy products had a higher prostate cancer risk.
  • Avoid Meat: Many research studies have shown that cancer is more common in populations consuming diets rich in fatty foods, particularly meat, and much less common in countries with diets rich in grains, vegetables, and fruits. This is partly due to the high-fat and fiber-free characteristics of meat compared to plant foods. When meats are cooked, cancer-causing chemicals called heterocyclic amines form within the meat.
  • Increase Antioxidants: They are powerful cancer fighters mainly found in vegetables and fruits. They assist in halting free radical damage, which can otherwise lead to cancer development.
  • Immune system’s role in fighting cancer: Beta-carotene, vitamin C, and zinc can help the immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells. Foods rich in fat and cholesterol can interfere with immunity. Studies show that vegetarians have approximately double the natural killer cell activity (natural killer cells engulf and destroy cancer cells) compared to non-vegetarians.
  • Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Healthy weight control is essential for warding off a variety of chronic diseases, and studies have shown that slimmer people are less likely to develop cancer. In addition, trimming excess weight may also improve survival after cancer has been diagnosed.

(1) CDC
(2) The Cancer Survivor’s Guide – Foods that help you fight back
(3) Neal Barnard
(4)  American Institute for Cancer Research
(5) Prostate cancer prevention – Nutrition and Exercise (Full text)   Abstract of key points

Related Pages

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* I practiced just before surgery

This the feedback from a woman who attended two of my classes (2) since Jan 11, 2012.

She had undergone tracheostomy. Some time back, due to injury to her throat, she could not breathe through the nose or mouth. A trach tube was inserted into a hole made in her throat to enable her breathe. Recently, her doctor advised that her throat was healed and she did not need the tube. But she was not willing to do it because when she took it off once, she was unable to breathe through the nose or mouth and was choking. Her doctor said that it was only her anxiety that was preventing her from taking off the tube and breathing through the nose. She was referred to me by Teri Hutson-Mulligan, a diabetes educator at Albany Medical Center.

Because of the tube in her throat, she couldn’t speak. In person, she communicates with a white board and dry erase marker or paper and pen. We interact occasionally by e-mail as she is not able to attend the classes being dependent on state transportation. I do the classes free for her, as she is disabled and on Medicaid.

She reported in the first class that she was unable to sleep for 2 to 3 hours every night and helplessly watched TV. Her sister died 5 years ago. The thought she was responsible for her sister’s death was haunting her, though she knew that this was not true. Her first report by e-mail is presented below.

“I am practicing the technique. I specifically remember using the ‘Tip mode’ (1) just before I went into surgery, to help me relax. The next thing I remember – I was waking up and the surgery was over. I have also used the technique at bed time. My sleep habits are a lot better. I sleep almost through the entire night.”

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(1) How can I focus on breathing?
(2) Seminars and classes

Relevant pages
Relieving anxiety – Success stories