Monday, February 11, 2008

"Own Your Health"

In today's post, I would like to discuss a book that I found inspirational, Own Your Health: Choosing the Best from Alternative & Conventional Medicine by Roanne Weisman with Brian Berman, M.D., founder and director of the Complementary Medicine Program at the University of Maryland.

In 1995 Weisman had surgery to replace a failing heart valve. What was thought to a routine operation resulted in a stroke "that completely paralyzed my left arm and weakened my left leg to such an extent that my doctors thought I would never walk again."

While the surgery had saved her life, "...after a few months of occupational therapy for the stroke... My therapists told me that I had 'plateaued.' I could walk but slowly and without good balance. I could use my left arm to pick up larger objects, but it was still very hard to pick up a vitamin pill or a penny, button a shirt, turn a doorknob or a faucet, or manipulate a fork. They suggested I should now turn my attention to 'adapting' to my limitations."

There's so much more to Weisman's story, which is included in the introduction to this book. Weisman is an award-wining author specializing in science, medicine, and healthcare, and this book has been thoughtfully and fully researched. There are hundreds of interviews with a host of experts, patients, and alternative practitioners who are involved in a wide array of disciplines, including meditation, bodywork, Ayrurvedic Health, craniosacral therapy, guided imagery, self-hypnosis, and so much more.

When I first bought this book, which was a few years ago, I was struck by how many patients and doctors were turning to alternative treatments (in addition to conventional ones) for wellness.

I was depressed that so little was being done for so-called mental illness. But I resolutely went ahead and identified a few alternative practitioners with great credentials. In every case, they offered alternative treatments that were very expensive and helped me in no way whatsoever. Worse, I was devastated by their promise of wellness, and their unwillingness to assume any responsibility for treatments that didn't work. Finally, I gave up and lost hope that this arena has anything positive to offer.

But, I've realized that you don't throw out the baby with bath water. I need to learn to differentiate between the false healers and the true ones. Most importantly, I need to have a Wellness Manager who can help me choose options and participate in the process with me.

In terms of Roanne Weisman, her Harvard Medical School-trained cardiologist, Eugene Lindsey, M.D., assumed that role. She writes, "His openness to other healing modalities, combined with his and (my family's) belief in my recovery, helped give me the strength and will that I needed."

To me, Roanne Weisman is a hero of the highest order. You should visit her at her blog, which I will link to and thoroughly read.

For me, the path is clear. Please join me on the journey.


JayPeeFreely said...

The link takes you to the start up page at Wordpress.

I do think alt medicine is still an option. I like how "accepting limitations" was seized upon by the pros.

Don't take any of my latest post it a rant about what I often feel...

I did reference a bit of your blog.

Roanne Weisman said...

Dear Susan,
I was so moved by your post and your appreciation of both my struggle and my story. I think the real heroes, though, are the other folks I interviewed and wrote about, who faced down terminal illness and far more serious disabilities than I did. We all feel so fragile and vulnerable when illness strikes, and it is often hard to believe that we can have an impact on our health, but a recent research study provides hope: The study found that our "core beliefs" in our own power, or"self-efficacy" influence our behaviors, which in turn have an impact on our health. The article is by Alfred Bandura, Ph.D. of Stanford, and I will put the full citation on my blog:
Thanks so much for your interest in my story.
Roanne Weisman

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Roanne,
Thanks so much for writing. I, too, was moved by the stories of the people you interviewed (and what a huge amount of effort it took to write your book).

Interestingly enough, I read it a few months after writing grants for a local stroke organization. So, I could imagine how hard you worked to heal yourself.

When I found your blog a few days ago, I was delighted to rediscover you. And thanks for the reference to the article. I appreciate it.