Make It Real, Write It

Storing critical information in your brain takes a three-prong strategy: saying the words, reading the words and most importantly writing the words.  There’s power in the simple act of writing words.

Writing locks into your memory the information that you need to remember and it’s more likely to stick in your long-term memory (WebMD June 2019).

You will remember the items on your shopping list.

Technology provides modern-day options such as cell phone apps and pictures sent to us on our cell phone from our loving partners about requests for milk and cheese and bread when we’re grocery shopping but there’s still something “magical” about the act of physically writing the words on paper that triggers our brain to store the information for later use.

You’ll remember to bring home the milk and cheese and the bread.

College students far and wide furiously type on their laptops taking lecture notes during “101” level classes to make sure that they don’t miss the “pearls of wisdom” offered by their learned professors and then glean information for upcoming tests or final exams.  Imagine if the students wrote the notes by hand that way the initial information would lock into their brain.

After a great job interview send a hand-written ‘thank you’ note.

When children are taught the alphabet they repeatedly write the letters on paper or a chalkboard since this process “locks in” the alphabet process: it imprints the letters on a young child’s brain.

Police officers issuing tickets often set pen to paper.

When it’s important to remember you may want to write it down.

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Health Questions

The doctor’s office is a logical place to be barraged with health questions.

“Have you signed in? Do you have your insurance card?  Has your health changed?”

We freely give out personal information in a public setting to a stranger who may or may not be a trusted confidant assuming that our health will be improved by their interventions.

Imagine how effective it is to ask those same intimate questions of someone who really cares about you, someone who you know will give you an honest answer and will truly know the deep-down, gut-wrenching, soul-searching, bottom-of-the-barrel answers. Just imagine!

You are that person.

When was the last time you ask yourself health-related questions about your eating habits, exercise routine, how much water your drink every day, bowel habits and personal cleanliness cycles (i.e. handwashing, washing your bedclothes, picking your nose, sucking on your dirty fingers, scratching your groin, etc.)?

All the personal things that we do when no one is watching.

Each of us judges how our personal hygiene habits interact with our established health routines and medical diagnoses.  Maybe it’s beneficial to maintain healthy practices that enhance the medical guidelines our practitioners recommend.

Next time when asked you can answer “My health is better.”

Chronic Pain

People who are diagnosed with a chronic, painful, inflammatory disease, i.e. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, etc., may experience pain even when their inflammation is well controlled.

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Dealing with constant pain is exhausting, debilitating, physically draining, nutritionally challenging, fatiguing and can interfering with a person’s mood and memory ability.

Centralized pain signals arise from distress changes in the central nervous system CNS which is comprised of the brain and spinal cord where pain alerts are processed according to a September/October 2018 article in Arthritis Today (p. 28).   Experiencing intense, chronic, unrelenting pain marks the brain with sensory input pathways.

According to Wikipedia, chronic disease and chronic pain is a condition that lasts longer than three months.  Can you imagine attempting to perform functions of your daily life while being bombarded by pulsing, unrelenting sensations cascading throughout your muscles and joints?

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Merriam Webster defines “chronic” is something that is “continuing or occurring again and again for a long time.”  This includes reoccurring lower back pain or hormone-related migraine headaches as well as joint inflammation from finger and toe disfigurement of rheumatoid arthritis.

Chronic pain, pain every day in every way, raises the normal functioning awareness of throbbing affliction for anyone experiencing it to a threshold of unbearability. 

We have read well-researched professional articles discussing adequate medical interventions to either reduce or help to control life-long, unrelenting pain.   However, there is a fresh look at this well-worn issue.  MDedge/Family Medicine News reprinted a recent interesting article (September 21, 2018) originally issued from De Vita MJ et al. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018 Sep 19 that addresses this exact subject.

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Meta-analysis finds that the threshold for chronic pain can be raised to make the pain more tolerable.  This study states that chronic pain can feel less unpleasant and more tolerable which suggests that there can be an influence on the overall pain process.

The “influencer” in this meta-data analysis is cannabinoids wish shows that there is a significant association between cannabinoids and higher pain thresholds.  An interesting twist to this finding is that plant-based cannabis has a significantly stronger association with reductions in pain unpleasantness than synthetic.

A fresh look at pain control may be worth a glance.

Are You A Team Player?

A variety of talents and abilities are needed to maintain a healthy body.

Systems working together maintain homeostasis ensuring a disease-free body.  Your lungs breathe, your blood flows, your heart pumps, your veins and arteries integrate fluid throughout your muscles which in turn deliver movement energy to all parts of your body.

You move, you think, you breathe, you digest, you interact – you’re an integral part of the world.

Integrating these individual talents into a cohesive team is also effective in the business world. Each member has specific talents and abilities that enhance the team.  One is an attention getter, one is skilled at attaching parts, one is detail oriented, one is skilled at working on difficult problems, one insists on being the secretary for all events, one is the master promoter.

Both situations of personal body health and team-building health require that important information be transmitted from the ‘central nervous system’ to the functioning body. Communication must be effectively transmitted and put into practice.

When you’re in a team-building situation, whether it’s maintaining your own healthy body or working within a team-building situation in your workplace. It may be interesting to remember that each individual part has a different job to do.  However, when you value ‘that’ job and add it to the suggestions that have already been proposed the outcome may be even better than you imagined.

For instance, you may be relatively healthy but if you decide to exercise in the morning before you go to work your cholesterol level may improve and your energy level at work may be better.  It’s just a suggestion.

Or if you are part of a brainstorming group and stuck figuring out that last issue on a finance project you may want to ask the ‘geeky’ accountant who sits in the dark, corner cubicle – again just a suggestion.

It’s Not Just You

Doctors and medical providers are talking to all of their patients about autoimmune diseases.

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According to a recent September 2018 Redbook article, the immune system is like the body’s army – it spends the earliest years of your life distinguishing friends from enemies so it can protect you from invaders.  An autoimmune attack can come seemingly out of nowhere, possibly due to a combination of genetics and the environment according to Anca Askanase, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center and director of the Columbia Lupus Center.

Antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) are autoantibodies that attack self-proteins within cell nucleus structures; their presence in serum may indicate an autoimmune disease.  Also, positive ANA test results have been obtained in chronic infectious diseases, cancers, medication-related adverse events or in even rare events a healthy individual according to a Medscape article by Lucia M. Sur, Ph.D.; et al 2018.

Antibodies are proteins produced by lymphocytes B of the immune system that recognizes foreign antigens such as viruses, bacteria or other germs.  After recognizing the antigens, antibodies, antibodies start to recruit specialized cells and proteins, which lead to activation of the inflammation cascade – the response of the organism to defend itself.

Recent statistics gives us a glimpse into the massive issue confronting society.  Selena Gomez’s kidney transplant was needed due to a complication of lupus.  50 million Americans are affected by autoimmune diseases.  100 million is a combination of all the autoimmune diseases.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Sjogren Syndrome (SJS), Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (MCTD), Polymyositis (PM) are just a few of the medical conditions indicating a systemic autoimmune disease.

Eye Contact

We’ve all been there, albeit for just a brief moment, as we unexpectedly catch the fleeting eye glance of a truly beautiful woman.  It occurs as we’re bustling through a busy airport terminal or while hurriedly buying that last-minute item in a congested shopping mall.

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Whatever the situation, we are intrigued by eye contact.  Eye contact increases our pulse rate, decreases our dishonesty factor (we lie less often), increases our adherence to rules and norms and helps us to attend to subtle social cues.

The world around us contains a vast array of often rapidly changing information.  If we attend to relevant information that affects us we are better able to figure out our environment and make appropriate decisions that affect us personally.

In my first novel Lines of Listening, I talk about the memories that we as children develop when we make eye contact with adults in our lives and how these non-verbal conversations don’t always match the verbal conversations that we encounter.  However, these verbal and non-verbal conversations join to form a life-long conversation.

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Recent EEG work has suggested that there are fundamental differences in our brain activity response to viewing another person in the same room compared to viewing that person on a computer screen. Viewing a live face with direct gaze results in more pronounced brain processing than viewing a photograph of that same face.

Recent social psychology research suggests that we may often avoid looking at other people in real life and this effect has been recently confirmed using an eye-tracking device.  In contrast, people, and in particular their faces and eyes, strongly capture and direct attention when participants view photographs.

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It, therefore, seems likely that people may not attend to other individuals in the same way when interacting in real life as when presented with a video.  This may be something that we as public consumers want to study on a long-term basis since we constantly use a cell phone to communicate with each other in our daily lives.

In social situations, eye contact is highly informative. Looking directly at the speaker while also listening to the speaker can aid us in being part of the conversation.  Instead of two people engaging in idle chatter or buzzing, annoying unrelated words, listening and responding to the spoken words that are in synchrony with direct eye contact makes for – wait for it, wait for it – conversation.

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I’m not being facetious just making a point.  Using a cell phone every day, all day may decrease our ability to maintain eye contact with the general public.  If we aren’t looking into the eyes of the people next to us how can we understand the lives and challenges of the community in which we live?