Did you hear that?

Our hearing is often not appreciated until we lose the ability. Patients continue to have a low level of satisfaction when it comes to hearing aids.  I’m all ears, nose and throat!

About your Voice
Acoustic Neuroma
Better Ear Health
Dizziness and Vertigo
Dysgeusia and Dysosmia or Taste and Smell disorders
Eardrum repair
Ear infections
Hearing problems in Children
Meniere’s disease
Pediatric Sinusitis
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Throat Problems
Thyroid Disorders and Surgery
Eardrum repair
Ear infections
Meniere’s disease
Better Ear Health

Lesson 2: Body Idioms

I absolutely love this!

Christina Ong's Blog

Our second lesson revolves around body parts.  All the idioms below contain at least a ‘body word‘  in bold and its definition is next to it.

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Neurological Disorders*Your Brain

The Statistics are tremendous and the diseases can be progressive. Here are some resources.

Alzheimer’s Association Northen California and Northen NevadaAmerican Medical Association

Alcohol and drug information/U.S. Department of Helath and Human Services

American College of Neuropharmacology

Aphasia: General information, support groups, and communication.

Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

Brain and mental fitness commercial site

Brain Book Life Management System

Brain Aneurysm Foundation

Brain Injury Association of America

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Children’s issues

EEG Biofeedback information

Family Caregiver Alliance

Hotline for head injury information

Hydrocephalus Association


National Aphasia Association

National Council on Disability

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

National Institute of Health

National Library of Medicine

National Rehabilitation Information Center

National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury

Neuroscience Center


Social Security Administration

Traumatic Brain Injury Chatroom


Whole Brain Atlas

World Health Organization

OSHU Brain Institute 

Suggested Reading

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome CRPS/RSD

Supporting RSDA



Last Months, Last Moments

Our current  formula of Health Care and or the kind of care you and I can receive is dictated by Insurers and Pharmaceutical Companies.  Your care depends on your insurance plan, availability of practitioners who accept your plan, then getting authorization from an insurer about a proposed treatment plan which may or not include a drug therapy, which will require another authorization.

Seems like the two most important elements are taken out of the equation here.  Namely your desires and your physician’s recommendations. That’s assuming you even have a physician who knows you and can advocate for you.

If you haven’t experienced any of the disconnect of the above scenario, more than likely it will hit you smack in the face when it comes to care of a chronic illness or end of life care for yourself or a loved one.

Here are a few things to consider before you are on the “Back Nine”. To use a golfer’s analogy, which I hadn’t heard until a few years ago but, you get the drift? If life were 18 holes, the first several holes you are fresh and by the middle 8th hole, you are getting the hang of it and doing well, but start to tire..

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care DPOA
This is usually completed within a Trust along with your Will or your “Living Will”

Living Will
Sometimes the above terms are used interchangeably, but in fact are different.

This can be used sometimes as a DNR, but is separate. In some states there is a pre-admission DNR (hospital)

Every state and county differs in available resources. In patient settings or at home. Also there are for profit and non profit hospices.

Hemlock Society Compassion and Choices
Name changes through the decades, but they continue to advocate for patient rights.

Caring Advocates
A new to me organization, that provides a comprehensive guide to end of life planning

Patient Rights
See what your legal rights are. Each state is different.

Do Not resuscitate, has been replaced with AND in some health care settings.  Some-
times this is used with or without the POLST. You might consider a situation with the POLST at your home or residence and or DNR or AND at a hospital setting.

Allow a natural death.

What to do after it’s over?

Burial Average cost of a basic funeral 8-10 Thousand

Cremation Cheaper than burial, but you must still provide for memorial or witnessing fees.

Donation Many people opt to be an for organ donor. Check out your state’s registry, as some require registration. A low cost/0 option is whole body donation. Teaching hospitals around the country have programs where whole body donation is an option. ScienceCare(which is referenced in the above link) offer the cremated remains back to your family if they wish, which isn’t an option in some facilities.

Please don’t think I’m advocating one over the other, I’m advocating personal choice which is often taken out the equation of our health care. I’m also advocating planning and implementing  your wishes.  I do know from personal and professional experience, that many of us are poorly prepared for our bodies failure. That, along with the challenges we face which are compounded by a bureaucracy of legal and moral limitations, our personal choices fall by the wayside.  This can easily happen in the event we find ourselves in an institutional setting like this woman’s story. Despite her wishes, when you have an opposing protocol, it’s not the consumer/patient/me/you who wins.

If you have aging parents, ill relatives or are on the “back 9” yourself, consider your options and plan, lest you have no choice at all.  Clean out the top shelf of your linen closet (why that accumulates so much stuff, I’ll never know) use all the things you’ve been saving for good. Because, now is good too.

And another view of it all.

To your Continued Good Health.




What your Doctor wants to tell you…


In case you haven’t heard, we’re broken. Our health care system is overloaded and in a state of limbo with the current administration. Even if and when it is fixed, we/us/it are unprepared to deal with our increasing populations of aging, dying and chronic pain. We’ve a shortage of primary care physicians entering med school and a population whose increasing dependence on our current workers is unrelenting.

While this tongue in cheek video, or so it seems that way because it is animated, it would be way to depressing otherwise, points out the problems facing docs and patients…it does little to foster a solution. Except stop putting things up your but! Talking about buts, the one solution I can think of is to get our heads out of our asses and start implementing a little self care, learn resiliency, and consider that we save “Health Care” for when we are sick, like Cancer and Heart Disease. You know they top the list for highest mortality rates in US right?

And know we are going to start another war on drugs, a National Emergency you say?
Then we run the risk of killing our ever decreasing supply of docs? Not to mention what it will do to us as potential patients, and I think the people who will do war on drugs are also potential patients and probably have their own stash of vicodin, benzos or other mood altering meds in their cabinet.
Not sure why America is leading in opiate addictions and deaths associated with it. Over prescribing, ease of access, is decriminalization the answer?

You get where I’m going with this? Doesn’t look so promising.

Self Care as Health Care. And you know I’m not suggesting treating diseases like Cancer or Heart Disease, or doing surgery on yourself, well only if you want to.

What are you doing for self care? 75% of Cancers are caused by lifestyle factors. On  that list of contributing factors of increased mortality along with smoking, uncontrolled hypertension etc. is sedentarism, lack of mobility and underuse.


Do your bod a favor, put your favorite music on an dance, even if it’s just swaying to the beat, or if that’s not your thing go for a walk.

All the respect,




Drug Costs and Patient Centered Solutions

Notice I didn’t say in defense of pharmaceutical industry! I’ve been working in the Health Care Industry long enough to remember some of the perks and incentives offered by pharmaceutical companies. Unapologetic, I enjoyed pens, staplers and an assortment of office accouterments, all emboldened with logos of various drug giants. I may have smirked at the recounting of gulf trips my employers (physicians) had enjoyed at the expense of such drug giants.  While they’d be patting themselves on the back for their free trip, there was always, at the core of the whole endeavor, satisfaction knowing we’d have drugs to give to our patients.

In an ideal world, our Health Care System would be patient focused, patient education based and encouragement of self  care.  There no longer is the opportunity for most practitioners to develop a relationship with a patient that allows the level of communication that fosters this relationship.  I can complain and spell out the ways it’s not working for us, but I’d rather give some solutions.

Here are a couple of opportunities for saving money on your medications.






Don’t forget to look online for your branded drugs, where there is no generic. The companys will often offer coupons or subsidy for qualified patients.

Also, did you know that sometimes just paying out of pocket without using your insurance can save you loads of cash! If you use generics, and now a days, some generics which have been around for a long time are more expensive than newer branded drugs.   PSST! This works great if you are in the doughnut hole.
Using this strategy, you go to a pharmacy that doesn’t have your existing insurance info, meaning you haven’t shopped there before and purchase away.  You might explore an existing generic for your branded drug or have your doc switch you to a formulary drug approved by your plan.

Good luck and know that all the links above have been tried and tested and are good resources.


All the Respect,



Mindfulness, Meditation, MBSR

imageDo you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?
– Lao-Tzu, Tao-te-Ching –

I am a poor at meditating. There I said it! I’ve tried, but I could never wrap my head around the idea that in order for me to free my mind, live mindfully and be fully present in this life could be dependent on me sitting cross-legged for any length of time. Any equanimity I might have experienced is disturbed by my body telling me to move.  My whole life, I have used movement, either in the form of dance or other form as moving meditation. It’s probably a combination of age and a lifetime of burning the candle at both ends that has me revisiting my commitment to including it my repertoire of self-care.
My closest practice to meditation has been constructive rest or what I call Adult Time-Out in a variety of positions, depending on time of day or how my body is feeling. My path to mindfulness has been through movement. Where I can cultivate awareness of sensation, equanimity, curiosity and Breath. And Breathe.  Just the fact, that I say I’m poor at meditating is a good example why, if I don’t do the practice regularly, I make really harsh statements and judgments about myself and then other people! Even though I say I am poor at meditating, which is a judgmental and almost self flagellation…it’s a practice that I’ll continue as it is serves so well

The practice of developing self-awareness, without judgement or reproach is a cornerstone of self-care.

The practice of observing one’s inner landscape, that’s filled with the never-ending self dialogue, for some of us the hard-wired self-destructive truths, the rehearsals of potential or past experiences and buffering it with neutrality ….is critical if you are dealing with health issues, whether they are neural or somatic (mind and body or mind-body).
The research in neurosciences continues to confirm the benefits of mindfulness. For many years research with peer-reviewed clinical studies, have been documenting the health benefits of mindfulness training.People report  lower blood pressure, fewer headaches, less pain or the ability to self manage symptoms more effectively. People also report the ability to optimize their emotional responses to external stimuli better. They were no longer held hostage to their emotions sabotaging their life. In a nutshell, somatic complaints were minimized and there were cognitive and psychological benefits.
With sophisticated imaging like MRI and PET scans, specific areas of the brain associated with different functions can be  observed. Along with cognitive benefits and reduced physical complaints, there is an observable change in the structural matter of the brain.

The state of our inner landscape is a major factor in how successfully we navigate life’s challenges. It is the tool we bring to the table in every situation we engage in.  A continuous practice (even if you think you aren’t any good at it)
This self-care method is harnessing our body’s natural capacity for healing,  while it actively changes your brain structure. This is pretty heady stuff, considering all the research that is accumulating about neurodegeneration.

I see many sick people every day and have for decades.  Some of them don’t need any more health care, they need self-care. This (below) is one of the first links I share with patients. Like the patients I see, many never find the benefits, because they are looking for another kind of “fix” and don’t even entertain the idea (by going to the website or other explorations) that they, themselves can influence their health. I understand. Sometimes we are so sick or in so much pain, that we need help, the situation is too much to deal with (that’s why they come to a doc)…BUT, this is one tool we can learn and practice…so that our situations become less “too much to deal with”.

With Unconditional Regards,




Excellent free online resource has writings,videos,  meditations and exercises which make it, (I think) a valuable tool for anyone who has the motivation.

Guided Meditations
This one is excellent also!


Harvard Unveils MRI Study Proving Meditation Literally Rebuilds The Brain’s Gray Matter In 8 Weeks


Body Play

Can you take any of the elements you are learning into to the field of life? How about eating? How about walking?  I’m doing the body scan (from the above program) and then I’m going for a walk.

Finding Space

The new year has brought  a lot of wonderful opportunities to my table. Along with these great things coming up, are obligations and deadlines all involving the computer.

As I continue to strive for more space between my joints, softness in my musculature and ease in my movements, being on the computer seems more and more unappealing! I’m finding a parallel in the goal of tending to my body and sharing this work that I’m also wanting more space in my life.

I’ve been a dance teacher long enough to remember when videos were via VHS, not YouTube and any communication with students or potential students was via word of mouth or written text on paper.

I’ve been a nurse long enough to remember when the most contact I had with a computer was using a digital EKG or heart monitor and the bulk of communication was spoken and documentation was handwritten.

I’ve been in this body long enough to remember what it felt like to hear my body’s voice when it wasn’t over run by the constant demands of my never-ending taskmaster in my brain.

My body has developed a voice of her own that is quite distinct from the taskmaster, and I want to listen to her for a while.  I miss her!

I’m still motivated to share, and that will happen again, either via this blog or videos.

Until then, join me in my next workshop
Self Massage and Body Play for Every Body
April 19, 2015 12:15-3:15PM at
Suzie’s Studio in San Rafael, Ca.

Going for a walk in the dark……ciao

What are you doing to keep space open?

3 Reasons to Learn Self Massage

Look how long our toes really are?  I used to think of them as short and stubby!

Look how long our toes really are? I used to think of mine as short and stubby!

Before you flip to another post because you are thinking “why do I need to know this”, give me a chance! You’ve been giving yourself massage all along even if you didn’t know it. I’m sure you can recall at least once where you have reached up and rubbed your temple or shoulder to relieve a headache or a tight knot in your shoulder . You have also been at the receiving end of a touch that started in infancy where you Mother caressed you to sooth your stomach ache or soothe you to sleep.  If you weren’t lucky enough to receive loving touch as an infant all the more reason for you to get comfortable doing it to yourself.

Self Massage gives us all the benefits that getting a massage give us.
It  softens and lengthens tight muscles, increasing joint space so we can literally decompress and restore range of motion to our joints, increases circulation with blood flow to enhance waste removal through our lymphatic system and increase oxygen stores to our tissues.
It encourages relaxation so that a normal breathing cycle can emerge. It’s an opportunity for us to quiet our sympathetic nervous system and welcome the work that our parasympathetic nervous system was designed to do.  While we quiet the mind we will be able to quiet the excessive muscular activity we often misuse for stability and mobility in our hyper-stimulated daily situations and activities.

Massage therapists  are trained to give massage, but they are also schooled in receiving the information bodies give back to them.  Their hands can tell if tissue is tight or spasmed, or long, released and springy!
By learning self massage, you multiply the sensory loops in which you give yourself information.  Via touch and receiving the touch. You are having a conversation with yourself, as you supply yourself the answers. The sensory feedback is supplied by the skin, muscles, bones, fascia, circulatory, lymphatic, central and peripheral nervous systems. While you may not understand all the science associated with this complex sensory landscape, do know, that your touch can profoundly affect these systems.
Outside of a clinical situation, or doing cadaver work, it is one of the best tools (as well as movement) for developing a somatic self-awareness.

1. Develop proprioception. Yes, proprioception is our sense of self in space. Some reports state that 75% of our propriocepters are in our feet and lower limb. It makes sense to release soft tissue, increase blood flow, restore mobility to our ankles and strengthen out feet.  Hard to make sense of it if you don’t know about your heel bone feels before  you bear weight on it.

2. Develop a 3 dimensional sense of self.  Many of us have a self-limiting idea of our own anatomy that we  learned early in our lives. Experiencing a side, front and back body with all its complexities and densities will enhance your physical literacy.

3. Release soft tissue to eliminate  pain and move more efficiently.  While self massage and getting a massage are beneficial, they both are a means to an end. That of restoring effortless organization in our body and pain-free movement.


Self Massage

Sit back in your chair and cross one leg over the other, so you can see the bottom of the foot of the leg you are crossing. Make a fist and start to knead or rake the bottom of your foot.  Dividing the sole of your foot into 3 sections, start at the big toe and go all the way to the heel, then the middle of your sole, then the pinkie to side.  Try going horizontally across the ball of your foot and the areas in between the pad of your toes and the ball. Moving horizontally again, go to your heel and and knead that area.
Grab your heel with your whole hand and gently twist back and forth like you were trying to open a drawer or unscrew something.
One hand on the top of your foot, one on the bottom and rub back and forth, the same motion you would use if you were rubbing your hands back and forth in anticipation of something.

Uncross you legs and put your foot under your knee, how’s it feel? Walk around and feel the difference.  Is your other foot jealous? Repeat on the other side, now go take a walk.







5 Things About Jaw Position That You Should Know

IMG_4165jawJaw Tension.

Those of you who know me from the dance studio, have heard me repeatedly give direction on your jaw.  Release your jaw, soften the root of your tongue, let your jaw hang, smile! I’m kind of broken record for a lot of directions. Those of you who don’t dance, don’t worry you have a jaw. I’ve found a piece of research that supports my continual prompting that could aid in integrating that habit outside of the studio. Which is what I’d ideally like to happen for the majority of my verbal rants!  If you don’t integrate the behavior outside of the studio, it’s really hard to find it in the studio, considering most of you (and me) are spending less time dancing in your bodies and more time in daily life, computing, commuting and compressing with our bodies.

  1. The position of  your jaw can affect your posture. Relaxing your jaw is accomplished by exploring the relationship between your jaw to your head and your head to your body.  See the study. See # 6
  2. A jaw at rest or neutral has a low-level of muscle tonicity or muscle tension.  This is referred to the myocentric position.  I’m going to rely on my common sense and experience to categorize the muscular activity as relaxed.
  3. Some people clench their jaw so much they can wear off their enamel, or crack a tooth. Dang! Can you imagine what their neck feels like? And you’ve probably heard about TMJ syndrome?
  4. Your jaw position can affect your weight distribution, pressure through the foot and gait stability. Psst! Check your shoe’s wear and tear.
  5.  And apparently, your body posture may affect jaw position.
  6. If you put your fist under your jaw right now and are unable to open your jaw fully, your head is in a really bad position.

Body Play
Touch your earlobe softly and caress towards your chin, feeling the broadest part of your jaw. Use your index finger and trace the outline of your mandible. Are you lifting your head and hyperextending your neck? Find your sitz bones and sit tall, can you unclench your jaw and let it hang? At what angle is your jaw in relationship to your head, the floor, the rest of your body? ideally, it should be at an oblique angle as opposed to  horizontal.  If it isn’t are you “sucking”  your lips or is there tension in your tongue?
Go for a walk, try 3 different jaw positions.  Teeth touching, jaw ligaments soft and hanging and the position in which your jaw is when you swallow.  See how each position  presents itself in terms of tension in various parts of the body. Is it easier to walk in one position or another?

Further Study
Try this exercise from Mary Bond, she nails it in her exploration of the root of the tongue and the spine. Me thinks she is a dancer!

Visualization Ideokinesis
I like my jaw soft, so I envision melted taffy. It’s soft but strong. Can you pull your taffy  ( jaw muscles) long?

That just made my mouth water…now go take a walk!