Imagine a hard, hairy coconut filled with something that has the consistency of Jell-O. What if you hit the coconut really hard – what would happen to the Jell-O? Chances are it would contract toward the side of impact, then bounce to the other side of the coconut, and maybe wobble like Jell-O does until it finally stops.
This is exactly what happens when someone hits their head. The human brain is not really solid at all, having a consistency more like that Jell-O in the coconut (you’ve suspected that among some people, right?). It wobbles back and forth in the skull on impact, where it may tear some of the blood vessels that feed it. This might also happen with violent shaking such as the “shaken baby syndrome.” The acceleration and deceleration affects the way the brain functions at least temporarily, and most of the time, the effect is reversible.
Robert A. Hayden, DC, PhD, FICC
Many studies have been published showing the efficacy of spinal decompression in bulging discs. This is neither new nor surprising, but the excitement of recent research is contagious. Indulge me for a moment while I share some enthusiasm with you!
There are 33 vertebrae in the human spine that are separated by 23 intervertebral discs (IVDs). These are made of very strong cartilage that is arranged in onion-skin-like layers around a liquid center, called the nucleus. Think of that gum that has the liquid center, and you have the hang of it.
Each disc is designed to act as a cushion to put space between vertebrae to protect bones. If bones touch bones, since they are made of metal (calcium), they will erode and destroy each other. The spacing of vertebrae is also important to create holes for the spinal nerves to exit the spine on their way to their respective body parts. IVDs are about 70% water when we are young, but they dry as we age (sadly, like some other parts), making discs more fragile and prone to injury by tearing.
Robert A. Hayden, DC. PhD, FICC
I began my first career, critical care nursing, in the Veterans Administration in Jackson, Mississippi. It was an exciting and invaluable learning experience for me. Things I learned then are part of my daily practice and approach to patient care to this day. We treated our vets as heroes. Nothing we could give them would be enough to balance what they did for us. So it distresses me when I hear of the VA scandals. They are not so much in the news now, but our vets’ plight remains.
Steve served in Viet Nam, a war in which returning veterans were vilified instead of honored as they deserved. He is accumulating health problems with maturity like my black coat attracts gray cat hair. The worst of these is his diabetes. Though only diagnosed three years ago, the signs of advanced neuropathy and vascular complications suggest it has been with him for much longer.
There are no palpable pulses in his feet. The lack of circulation has already caused obvious, significant and irreversible tissue damage in several toes and the bunion of his right foot. There is a danger he may lose his feet. Anticipatory grief is evident in his words, but his non-verbal expression would make you cry, too. He can’t get an appointment in the VA clinic for at least several weeks.
We are experiencing global warming—we call it "Spring," and it happens magically and rhythmically every year. Even the coldest, harshest winters are followed by a Spring. Isn't that reassuring?
My title above comes from a quote from the late Paul Harvey, a personal hero of mine, whose oratory inspired listeners to use language as he did, not only to communicate, but to paint word pictures. This particular quote, as I recall, was made in the context of people who retire from careers, then fail to stay engaged in life. Now that the weather is nicer, it is time to talk about getting outside and exercising, engaging in all life has to offer.
I am privileged to care for a number of seniors who are in retirement. Many of these live at a local retirement community that is full of senior athletes. They are focused on living life to the fullest, making every minute count and enjoying it all. There are other seniors who would like to be more active, but their bodies are not cooperating as they once did. This article is for them.
My cough, sore throat, sneezing, and congestion began last September with a little strep infection. I went to see my primary care physician (who is wonderful, by the way, so call me if you need one) early in the process. She looked at me quizzically and asked me where I might have been exposed to a streptococcal infection, since I do not work with children. I do, however, work with adults who work with children. At any rate, the antibiotic took the strep out in a couple of days. Modern medicine is a wonder when combined with a caring, conscientious, thorough physician.
But the cough lingered. It even caused a disruption of domestic tranquility when I would cough at night, inflicting the sudden noise on my wife's sensitive hearing and scaring the cats from their sleeping perches. My cough overpowered the surround sound on the television. Something had to be done.
I tried the usual over-the-counter remedies, such as guaifenesin and dextromethorphan, designed to liquefy secretions and suppress the cough, respectively. You can pay extra for Mucinex or you can find these as generics, but they usually do the trick. They didn't.
Robert A. Hayden, DC, PhD, FICC
Kevin Spacey plays the part of the president of United States in “House of Cards.” His character is a ruthless, opportunistic, but pleasantly decisive, murderer who plotted his way into the presidency. A Reuters poll yesterday placed that character at 57% popularity if he were the actual president, while Barack Obama flounders at 54% approval. Obama’s retort is that at least he is more popular than Congress.
Congress is certainly a dysfunctional group in a larger, more dysfunctional government. Part of that is by design, as we elect people to resist the efforts of others with whom we disagree. Nevertheless, the First Amendment to the Constitution, that much-maligned, circumvented, and ignored document that made America exceptional, still forbids Congress to abridge our right “to petition Congress for the redress of grievances.”
Each year I go to Congress in my role as the Georgia delegate for the American Chiropractic Association with my list of grievances that need attention. We have focused on veterans’ issues for the past several years. In my last column, I mentioned the plight of a Vietnam veteran who could not get an appointment in the VA surgery clinic. I assure everyone that we will not give up the fight for our veterans.