Oryoki's House

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Oryoki Bowl
February 03
Quaker buddhist, kinda quirky, loves cooking and knitting and movies. Dr Who fan, Scandinavian-aquarian and cat lover. Would love to be paid to travel around the world and write about local healing cultures. While eating and drinking and dancing. One day I will have a health cruise in the fjords.


MARCH 17, 2011 11:49AM

You are not helpless!

Rate: 14 Flag

Recently, I blogged about my sister Allison and her campaign to raise awareness about HPV and cervical cancer.  The motto of The Hicks Foundation is "Survival starts with knowing".  Our dad raised us to be fierce and as self reliant as possible.  He didn't know too much, but he knew enough to insist that we be prepared in the face of possibility, instead of caught empty handed or ignorant.  

One of the great mental changes that takes place in med school is the transubstantiation of knowledge (facts, data) into wisdom (synthesis).  We learn many different things, overwhelming details, and have to put them together into a composite mental holograph and then ignite them to become useful.  The parts become a robot, a switch gets it going.  Except humans are not robots.  Spirit is so often left out of the equation.  

I had an excellent education... many times over, at different schools, that prepared me well for developing a doctor mind.  Physician, I am not a surgeon.  It is not enough to know the signs and symptoms, one must physically look at the whole patient, and take in more than just the dissected parts of the story.  I treat the person, not the disease.  

This "attitude" of inquiry and investigation has improved my critical thinking skills in other areas of life wisdom.  The SOAP note (when still taken by hand, and directed by me- not just a flow sheet) is the basis of all empirical investigation.  Subjective- what you feel, what you perceive, what is happening to you from your perspective, what happened that brought you here; Objective- what I observe that correlates and corroborates or refutes your perception.  What I can measure, without bias, what is present or absent or different.  Assessment.  Diagnosis is just a term and number, there is more to assessment than a code.  It is an impression, an understanding of the whole.  There may be many things, they all come together in one package, you.  Plan.  What we are going to do about it all.  This includes things we need to get done (labs, imaging), what I am going to do (prescribe or treat), what you are going to do (in order to make yourself well and take some power back).  

The life of a naturopath is constant behavior modification.  You cannot do this job if you can't meet human nature every day with a laugh and a couple of ideas in hand.  You can't do it if you cannot be flexible in your approach, and you cannot do it if people disappoint you a lot.  It starts with an attitude, shored up by knowledge, shaped by acquired wisdom, and softened with patience, compassion and humility.  You will learn something new every day, every week, if you are humble enough to listen.  

Yet, you have to be fierce, committed, passionate despite the resistance and rebellions you face.  Few people want to change, but they want their circumstance to be different.  None of us got to where we are without making choices.  If you didn't think you did, you need to step back and look again, with fresh eyes.  Choice does not equal fault, and awareness of choice does not make blame.  I use my spiritual practice to learn how to teach responsibility and awareness without pointing fingers and making accusation.  They are often irrelevant, and almost entirely useless in making progress.  You are not a child or a criminal, I am not your mom or the sheriff. 

This is fundamental to making changes in life.  You are not powerless.  You are not helpless.  You don't lack choices.  You just may not be aware of what they are, or why to change the ones you do.  That is my job.  Lamp lighter, Inn Keeper, Story Teller, Mentor and Hand holder.  Survival starts with knowing, and now that you know, it's time to change your approach.

Depending on the nature of the visit, all my patients get homework.  Whether or not it is their "fault" that they have chronic *something*, it is their responsibility to change what they can in their own lives and habits to reduce their own symptoms and susceptibility.  This is the point and purpose of preventative and alternative medicine.  It is the most sustainable attitude, because it engages the patient in a campaign of self knowledge, bringing them to awareness.  They need not be a scientist, they need to know they are not powerless.  I am not the director of their life, I am not "doing" medicine to them.  I am showing them the path to wellness.  I will be their guide but not their sherpa, they must carry their own load.  I tell them, if I left town forever, you would already know most of what it takes to stay healthy through food, exercise, sleep and supplementation for general wellness.  You will have the tools in your hand to manage the problems you are seeing me for.  

I know people "fall off the wagon" all the time.  There are always reasons, some good, some bad, and some plain horrible luck.  I am not there to pity, or enable, or berate.  My job is to reassess, get new info, synthesize, and redirect.  Sometimes the plan remains the same, sometimes it changes.  You will only do what you will do, and I can only show you what you are willing to see.  We are both only capable of what we believe we can know, or see, or do.  Hopefully, I will get you to believe in yourself far more than you ever thought possible.  

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A wonderful mission statement. Totally convincing and uplifting in its promises of performance.
SOAP now has new meaning in my life. Thank you!
Leon- thanks, I actually try walking the walk every time I can. Other than certain drugs, I will try anything I recommend, in part, to see if it really is "do-able" and how to do it, how to make it easier, how to change it, or realize it is fairly useless.
Mary- not too different from crime scene investigation... The babysitter did it, in the kitchen, with a Butterfinger...
Great post, Oryoki...did you do a post about how you got into naturopathy from traditional medicine? I would love to read about that journey...xox
You make the choices and try to be happy with them. Whether they stick with you or not is your choice.
You try though.. I have been trying for decades with some parts of my life. I have no succeeded but I have did my best.
Sorry to be late.. It has been one heck of a morning and I did not want to do a drive by reading.
Rated with hugs
How wise you are, I wish I'd paid more attention to my own health and choices early in life but I'm paying now attention to this one last area I've ignored. I've read what you wrote twice times to absorb as much as I could. "Survival starts with knowing" reminds me of the first part of the book of Proverbs and I'm a huge fan of the wisdom of Solomon.

These same priciples are ones I learned first in regard to personal finances. Through my own choices life became a financial struggle, I didn't want to change, I too wanted my circumstances to be different. I looked long and hard at reality versus what I wished prepared myself well for any unforseen crises that might arise. Today I'm grateful I planned ahead and spent so many years diligently saving money. I wish I'd done the same with my body.

I applied the same principles to every area of my life except my own health. I truly took my luck and genetics for granted and in the last 5 years I've paid the price in pain and deterioration. You're right, blame is pointless and serves no useful purpose except briefly if it prompts a change. Now I'm making up for it and my own health is my number one priority.

This post is a wealth of wisdom that can be applied to almost any aspect of my life. I learned early on that it's less painful to learn from the mistakes of others than my own. I've read carefully much of what you and others have written, and every day I learn a little more. I'm astonished at how much better I'm feeling physically, mentally and emotionally. I don't feel helpless anymore, in fact I feel more hopeful and empowered every day.

I would never have chosen to become a physician, you're a strong/gentle woman with a lot of patience, as well as passion. Thank you for sharing so much, so freely.
Just having a purpose in life, as you do, works wonders.
We are so lucky to have people in the world like you. -R-
Ah, yes.. I remember SOAP. No, we are not powerless..not in our health choices, not in any of our life choices. And choosing not to choose, as they say, is a choice in itself. So sitting back and letting life run you or run over you is also a choice. Good reminders, and well expressed!
"It starts with an attitude, shored up by knowledge, shaped by acquired wisdom, and softened with patience, compassion and humility."

I see the reflection of this principle in all of your writing, Oryoki. That's why I enjoy reading you so much. Thank you for this!

There was a compelling article on Huffpo this week about how obese patients are being treated: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-katz-md/obesity-of-blame-and-sham_b_834937.html

Your statements here reminded me of it. It is important to keep the whole patient in mind...to empower them. Otherwise, what hope do they have?
there are times when we are not empowered, when life does just bulldoze over one. to deny that is to blame people when rotten things happen that they have no control over. if one lives without that happening at all, they are very, very fortunate.

i do take responsibility for my nicotine/caffeine intake; i have never intended to live forever and nothing in the last 10 yrs has changed my mind.
Too bad it costs money to get a guide like you for some help in this life journey. Looking back at my life I am a little disappointed but it has been lots of fun.
Zanelle- life is full of disappointments. I have a full 40 years of things I wish I had done differently, sorrows, and a few things I wish I could go back in time and erase.
We can all be our own guide, in that there is always good information around and we just need to pay attention. If something isn't working for you, it isn't working. But we often choose things we "like" and focus on preferences. Not that we never should, but sometimes it's counterproductive.
Oryoki, I am brand new to this, so mea culpa to all if I am out of line (or mind!). I must differ with you in a big way. For those of us with a medical condition the ADA thinks little of, unless the client has uber-bucks (no pun), we ARE indeed HELPLESS.

Two years ago my house burned down. With it went my partial upper plate.. as the old song said "My four front teeth". I hope no one is laughing.. this is SO not funny.

I live on $855.00/month. Period. I do have so-called dental insurance. Pretty much all it pays for is a couple of cleanings a year. I've tried to cancel it. The answering machine ... NEVER a human won't return my calls.

I'm 67 years old. I have 16 teeth left in my head, and at least 3 of them are abcessed. I live on ibuprofen to ward off pain. I can never smile. Imagine this, if any of you think I'm trying to be amusing. I CAN NEVER SMILE!

No dentist will take "payments" for their work. I don't have a credit card. So there is really no solution. Earlier this week I called a dentist to check on full-mouth implants. Are you ready? They START at $20,000.00.

My teeth are so bad, I would need them all extracted, and I can't even imagine what that, plus a plain old set of uppers and lowers would cost. But then again, it doesn't really matter, does it? With my income I don't have it.

Just one last thought: Again, imagine never being able to smile.

Thank you for listening.

I see the correlation between my post and this one. I also get every word you are saying. No one person can change another. They can lead, they can share, but only you can change yourself.
It is probably one of the hardest human characteristics to deal with. Wanting others to "fix" you or you thinking you can save/change another.