Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Alternative Universe

I hate the term 'alternative medicine'.

I hate that it is used freely to describe chiropractic, iridology, acupuncture, homeopathy, yoga, and prayer, among others. Without passing judgment, these things are simply not equivalent, in terms of history, licensing requirements, efficacy as determined by research, general acceptance, and well... they are all just different! The only commonality is that they are NOT conventional medicine. And the connotation is of a binary system, an either/or of health care where choosing the 'alternative' precludes the conventional. This myopic thinking is insulting and, frankly, unhealthful.

Don't get me wrong - I am a big fan of modern medicine. You may remember me from "The Bride with the Herniated Discs: A young woman's drug-induced limp down the aisle", and its sequel "The Chiropractor and the Neurosurgeon - Doctors in Love". Of course, who could forget the great laminectomy and discectomy of '05, and I know I'll always remember Amoxicillin vs. Sinusitis in '98... the last year they ever battled in this venue. Amoxicillin won.

But I resent the implication that because one opts to take Vitamin A instead of a flu shot, or labours with a midwife instead of an obstetrician, that they eschew conventional medicine. I maintain, rather, that we are fortunate to be able to choose the most appropriate care and care provider at a particular time and for a particular condition. I believe that our varied health care needs are best met by a roster of qualified and compassionate care providers.

A much more palatable term is complementary medicine, since it is inclusive rather than exclusive. It allows that single disciplines cannot by nature address all health concerns, and that there are options such as chiropractic and acupuncture (and naturopathy and traditional chinese medicine and...) that can pick up where conventional medicine ends or may be undesirable. A back pain sufferer may be prescribed anti-inflammatories by a general practitioner and treated mechanically by their chiropractor. A person with colitis may have investigations and medications as prescribed by their gastroenterologist and still benefit from nutritional therapy and acupuncture. It is OK, if not preferential, to use more than one treatment modality at a time - especially when they complement each other.

With approximately 75% of people using 'alternative' medicine at some point in their lives, it doesn't seem so alternative, does it?

Friday, August 8, 2008

...summer vacation, part final: roaming in rome.

... so we arrived in Rome. They say that Rome wasn't built in a day, but I say they just weren't trying hard enough. "pfft..." I spat, "I'll prove 'em wrong and do it in half a day!" First stop, the Flavian Amphitheatre, known these days as the Colosseum (I also shop at Towne and Country mall, it will never be Centerpoint to me...). I was excited to be standing in the midst of such history - the movie Gladiator was filmed right here! It truly makes you reflect on your existence at this time and place in the universe. I was also fortunate enough to spot a real, live Roman gladiator - smoking. How anachronistic! Maybe this is why the Roman Empire was wiped out?

After the Colosseum, which frankly could use some maintenance and repair, we trekked to the Trevi Fountain. I love this site, mostly because of the fountains at which you can refill your water bottle and rinse your hands and feet of the roman grime they've acquired. Ancient cities and heat don't exactly go well together... we nearly melted. For some respite from the heat we patronized and were patronized at a cafe near the Trevi Fountain. As you can imagine, visiting a restaurant near a major tourist attraction is always an economical choice, and we thoroughly enjoyed the $20 glass of beer and bottle of water. Mamma mia!

After conferring with my accountant it became obvious it was time to leave Italy. And so ended my European vacation. Funny how this trip once seemed eons away, yet the two week trip itself felt equally as long. I'm returned to Toronto more brown, more cultured (I now only eat gelato, not ice cream) and in need of an adjustment!


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

...summer vacation, part two: mambo italiano

The next day was a blur of Italian. After being ripped off at dinner in Rome and then ripped off again in a taxi in Naples (number one taxi driver, my a@@!), I boarded a ferry for the island of Ischia tightly clutching what was left of my Euros, desperate for some intense relaxation. I have to comment here on the general civility of Europeans, despite their numerous and successful attempts to separate me from my money. They are somehow simultaneously crazy and calm - there appears to be a method in the madness, a serenity in the chaos. I've often witnessed my fellow North Americans yell at each other while standing in our perfect line-ups, but in Europe they just coagulate into a mass of wildly gesticulating but content people, each not noticing the other cutting in front of them - nessun problema! Drivers swerve in and out of traffic (who needs lanes?), narrowly avoiding scooters and pedestrians - no hard feelings! A woman on the train takes your seat, a man drags his luggage down the aisle cuffing each person on the way... va bene! They demonstrate a practiced sense of patience, those crazy, crazy Europeans... I think of all the lessons to be learned from them, patience is at the top of the list. That, and prosciutto.

I finally arrived on the island of Ischia, which offers many activities, my favourites being eating, sunbathing, swimming and scrabble. I must now use this forum to apologize, sort of, to my scrabble opponent, a know-it-all wordsmith who annoyingly pointed out an error in my last post when I was without internet access and unable to correct it for a WEEK... nary an error escapes his exacting eye. How annoying are people like that? However, I strive for truth and can admit my mistakes. For example, it turns out that flecky is a word; you must be so proud.

What else can I say about Ischia? It was belissimo, magnifico, molto meraviglioso. In fact, if I ever disappear from Toronto - check there. I noticed a distinct lack of chiropractors, and the hills alone could break anyone's back... nah, I could never leave T.O., would never, ever leave you, my dear friends and patients. I'll just start a satellite clinic... ;)

After 5 days spent on the island indulging in pasta, pizza, prosciutto and gelato, it was time awaken from my carbohydrate stupor and move on... back to Rome!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Part One: first class and no class

My travels started out on a high note - a fortunate series of events led me to the front of the plane, to the previously elusive and exclusive executive class seating. Though I am not an executive, it turns out that by merely giving the airline a significant amount of money, all of your and your husband's air miles, your most convincing pouty face followed by your winningest smile, well you too can be seated (or laid down, as it were) in the front of the plane! Actually, I spent most of the time as horizontal as possible - and this was possible, given the fabulous contraption that is the pod. I can only hope that as much engineering detail was put into the engine. Suffice it to say that I have had a taste of the good life - comfortable seats, great food and service, clean facilities... I was likely the only one disappointed when the pilot announced that due to a tail wind we would arrive in London 45 minutes early. I wanted to get my money's worth... and after security pried me kicking and screaming from my pod, I truly felt that I had.

The euphoria was short-lived when I disembarked the plane and then embarked a train, albeit as a regular passenger, en route to Plymouth. This turned out to be a perfectly lovely-ish town, site of the world premiere of Flashdance the Musical!

I'm torn here. I want to sum up the show for you, to tell you about the jaw-dropping choreography, the iconic scenes from the movie come to life, the moving performances (I laughed! I cried!), the unbelievable score... but this blog pretends to have something to do with chiropractic, so I'll talk about how this humble chiropractor saved the show.

A few hours before opening night, one of the actors hurt his neck during a run through. I happened to be sitting in the theatre and overheard a debate over what to do (ice!! when in doubt, put ICE on a fresh injury!!) - and I couldn't help but offer my services (is there a chiropractor in the house?). The actor had pinched a joint in his neck, an injury I see all the time in my patients. The only difference is that when you come in unable to move your head, you aren't usually due to be breakdancing on stage in 3 hours. We massaged and iced and gently moved the joint, and the show went on... as it must, I suppose. You couldn't tell he was sore at all, and I like to think this had as much to do with him being a great actor as me being a great chiropractor. Do they give a Tony for best adjustment in a musical? Flashdance was a huge success, and I was honoured to make my small contribution to this amazing production.

Soon it was time to leave Plymouth, to race to Stansted Airport to discover the haluciousness that is Ryan.air (I'm sensing that 'halucious' isn't technically a word... but trust me, it is the only one that accurately describes Ryan.air). Discount prices but a charge for every little thing (luggage $64, check in $16, bringing along a guitar $100, life jacket $45...), pandemonium at the check-in counter, no seating assignments, advertisements on the overhead luggage compartment, lotto ticket sales during the flight, sexy pictures of the airline attendants in the Ryan.air magazine, tiny seats cramped together, all taking place amid a sickly yellow and orange colour scheme! Halucious! But we made it alive and on time (the timely arrival is celebrated by a gaudy horn arrangement over the loudspeaker... 'do do doo doooo doo do! Another Ryanair flight has landed on time!' I was more amazed that we landed at all...) in Rome!

Thus began my week long gelato diet...