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.
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.
Halloween is near. It brings uncountable empty calories into our lives. And it is only the beginning. Time seems to accelerate at this season, and Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. Following that is the entire Christmas season, then the celebration of New Year's Day. Of course, the entire football season invites gluttony, and it will last well into January. Consequently, we are all about to run a gauntlet of 3 ½ months of culinary temptation.
Cardiac units normally see a spike in admissions at this time of the year. The overeating that occurs on Thanksgiving frequently puts some people over the edge of what their heart can tolerate as blood flow shifts to accommodate a bloated G.I. tract. Subclinical underlying coronary disease will then tend to rear its head and ruin a holiday, or worse.
Sometimes I get philosophical at birthdays about the whole aging thing. I used to see birthdays as milestones along the road of life. Now I have a bunch of milestones behind me, and birthdays look more like a countdown.
It really hit home when I was thinking about dropping off the board of the Georgia Chiropractic Association last year for the first time in my career. At one time such an action would seem sacrilegious to me, but now I am involved in so many things that I am overcommitted. What really hit me hard about this decision was the realization that I am no longer building my resume. That realization was far more profound than it might seem on the surface.
One might look at life like a missile being fired from a launching pad. At first, it gains a lot of speed and altitude with very impressive noise and smoke. At some point it reaches its zenith and levels off. When you think about it, it is all downhill from there. And so what was when I realized I was no longer building my resume. Had I reach my zenith? Is it all downhill from here? How far from here is the site of my crash?
The weather is changing. We cannot really complain about a long, hot, miserable summer, because we did not really have one. It was pretty mild as summers go here in Georgia. Nevertheless, you may have noticed that the air is crispy and cool in the mornings and not so hot in the afternoon nowadays.
There are some alarmists who have cried about global warming, but since the globe is demonstrably not warming, we have had to change the reason for alarm to "climate change." Apparently, we are experiencing a predicted annual "climate change." We call it "autumn."
This is a great time to begin your new walking campaign. Your joints need exercise. Your muscles need exercise. Your vascular system needs exercise. And now, new research suggests that your psyche benefits from exercise as well.
That joyous time of the year is upon us. Beginning irritatingly early, as usual, the bells reverberate wherever we go. The brown and orange of fall are gradually replaced by the crimson and green in festive displays.
I heard a pre-Christmas sermon from Dr. Bruce Morgan, Pastor Emeritus at First Baptist Church here in Griffin years ago that stayed with me because it has such a powerful message. He painted one of his word pictures of the orchestra playing the music of the season, reaching through the air with a message of joy and hope. He admonished, however, that if you listen closely enough, through all of the bells, horns, violins, cellos, and percussion, you may hear the singular melancholy song of the French horn.