Anti-Inflammatory Autoimmune Holiday Dinner

Our first annual Anti-inflammatory Holiday Dinner was a success! Chef Raul Lomas joined Dr. KeriLyn Bollmann as we hosted an intimate evening dinner replete with exciting substitutions for the usual inflammatory Holiday fare. We started out with a short educational session on inflammation, then moved to creating a special menu filled with superfoods bursting with nutrients and compounds that are known to have beneficial effects on decreasing inflammation. We had a rich interactive discussion and a lot of laughs as we filled our noses with the sweet aromas and our bellies with healthy, scrumptious flavors. Thank you to those who came and shared the evening with us.

So what exactly causes inflammation, and why is it important? Inflammation is caused by a number of factors: genetic, environmental, and even the way we lead our lives from day to day. A significant portion of inflammation is due to autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease is on the rise as we learn more about our environment and the way our food is grown and manufactured. An autoimmune condition is a condition in which the body sees its own internal systems as foreign. As a result, the body “attacks” itself. This leads to an increase in deranged signals via messenger proteins and hormones, which in turn results in inflammation in the body. Inflammation plays a major role in the development of heart and vascular disease (stroke, heart attack, peripheral vascular disease).

There are many ways to decrease inflammation- from medications, supplements, mind-body techniques, and in particular, the foods we eat and how we prepare them.

Want to learn more? Join us next time for one of our fun, educational events by Dr. Bollmann and Chef Raul! We usually plan something every other month, be on the lookout in the Class Schedule and Events page!

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The Art of Helping

JAMES AND ALICE WITH THEIR NURSE FELICIA AND ME

JAMES AND ALICE WITH THEIR NURSE FELICIA AND ME

When I was a medical student, I did not have health insurance. I was in need of a doctor, and a kind soul had the mercy to see me. I offered what I had, which was $30 and some change, and he just told me to "pay it forward". That really stuck with me. I remembered the desperation I had felt just moments before, and the peace that came with knowing I would be okay. I vowed to help others in this way, working with the underserved and uninsured, and did so for 23 years. 

Along the way, I met an extremely kind and warm-hearted couple. Over the years, I got to know Alice and James. She would share her stories of how she would make countless wedding dresses, decorations, and even curtains for her church. James' contribution, per her, was that he never complained that they spent their own money to do this out of the goodness of their own hearts and in service to God. She shared with me that the movie "Sister Act" with Whoopie Goldberg was loosely created around their church choir and their fearless, talented leader, Iris Stevenson. (Alice would have been the part played by Kathy Najimy). 

When the couple's 50th anniversary rolled around, I asked how they would celebrate. They mentioned they would have liked to renew their vows, but they didn't have the means. In our residency program, part of the curriculum we created is based on community service. I thought, instead of the usual service at one of the shelters, why don't we put on a renewal of vows for the couple?

I pitched it to the residents and they liked the idea. From there, things snowballed. We wrote to the Shane Co. and they offered to help, providing rings for the couple. People took up donations. The couple's family kicked in, providing monies, food, and help with decorations. One of the doctors donated money for James to get a new suit, and Alice to buy material to make (yes, she made it!) her gown. A local catering company, Atlasta, donated side dishes. Residents, faculty, staff, and their families and friends gave of their time to serve and clean during the reception. The giving seemed to go on forever, too long to list here. Friends of the couple were asked not to give money for the ceremony, but instead give them cash- with which they purchased a new mattress. James said that night he'd had the best night's sleep he'd had in years.

In retrospect, one could say it was a lot of work. But honestly, for me this was a work of love. The amount of joy and sublime satisfaction we received was far greater than anticipated. 

Although this was a larger project, the scale can be whatever one wants it to be. It started with a small idea of a little reception potluck and grew into a full blown church ceremony, all because of LOVE. It grew out of a collective desire to maintain meaningful relationships, and share in the celebration of this couple who has helped so many for so long, but began with a single seed of love which was sowed by the couple themselves.

By the way, check out https://www.shaneco.com/engagement-wedding/wedding-rings -highly recommend them due to their kindness and service to this couple!!

Anger versus Bitterness

A friend of mine was telling me about her son and his baseball team today. She said they had won their championship game, and that her son had pitched beautifully. However, he had some difficulty hitting. As the team was celebrating their victory, her son was off in the distance, upset with his performance. He couldn't seem to shake it, no matter how she explained that he was missing out on all the fun, he had basically held the other team at bay with his pitches, and that the emphasis "should be" on the team rather than himself.

We have all had times when, although the outcome is desirable as a whole, we feel our contribution was lacking, or our performance was sub-par. Or perhaps the outcome was not desirable at all, and we feel it was largely due to our lack of preparation or participation.

She asked, "What would you do?" 

It's always been important to me that people are allowed to feel their feelings. So that got me thinking about a quote by the late Maya Angelou:

“You should be angry. But you must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.”- Maya Angelou

It's OK that her son was angry with his performance. Anger can motivate us to do something differently, to change our approach for a better outcome. But there is a point at which we need to move past the anger, or it can morph into bitterness, which is counter-productive.

Eventually, her son came around. The next morning she woke, and he was dressed and ready for the batting cages.

 

Pain is Inevitable; Suffering is Optional

WITH  BARRY KERZIN, MD , PHYSICIAN TO THE DALAI LAMA, AND  THEA WHITE

WITH BARRY KERZIN, MD, PHYSICIAN TO THE DALAI LAMA, AND THEA WHITE

Last week I had the opportunity to visit with Barry Kerzin, MD, physician to the Dalai Lama. He spoke on compassion and self-care, part of Buddhist philosophy. In Buddhism, there are 4 noble truths: suffering, cause of suffering, cessation of suffering, and the path to liberation. PAIN is accepted as a reality, SUFFERING is how we handle the pain. We are taught to take care of ourselves.

Dr. Kerzin stated the absence of disease is an OLD model. That's just not gonna happen anymore. He spoke of emotions and how they can inform disease. Constant negative emotion toward a specific disease increases our suffering from it. 

So how do we lessen our suffering? Mindfulness. Training our brains to be in the present moment. Because, according to Dr. Kerzin, studies show the average attention span for an adult American is 7 SECONDS, and 47% of people are distracted at any moment. We are busy telling ourselves stories. When we are fully present we spend less time "feeding" suffering.

Dr. Kerzin also spoke of compassion vs. empathy. Empathy is feeling TOO MUCH and can cause burnout. Compassion is the wish and action to relieve suffering, but it has boundaries. The situation touches us, but we feel joy in helping. This ultimately allows us to be more helpful in reducing pain.

Practicing COMPASSION and MINDFULNESS improves resilience, leading to more successful relationships (with ourselves and others), and is part of our path to liberation. 

 

Perspective

I lost one of my dear friends yesterday. He was 86 and deemed it was "his time', but it still hurts nonetheless. He and his wife lived across the street from me. He was in the hospital for almost two months before he died. When we'd visit, he'd exclaim that he really liked the hospital's stir fry and he'd had it 9 times, or he'd talk about coffee around the campfire. That was just like Smitty; he was always finding the little things that gave him pleasure. He was such a kind, fair man. Salt of the earth- he would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. 

His wife was a hero in my eyes. She let him go with grace and dignity, exactly like he wanted, when he wanted, "just like we talked about". I would see her leave the house before it was light out and she would not return home until after dinner. She had known him since they were 13 years old. I am inspired by her strength. We went over to their house the evening after his death to pay our respects to his wife. I tried (to no avail) not to grieve in front of her because her grief is immeasurable compared to mine. At the end of the visit, she gave a genuine smile and said it was good to laugh a little. Again, finding the positive in a sea of loss. 

I cried myself to sleep. This morning I woke to the opportunity to attend another good friend's naturalization ceremony. Sitting in the courtroom, I have never seen a more grateful group of people, about to become citizens of America, land of immigrants. Each person painstakingly struggled in their own way to command a privilege into which I was born. I was immediately filled with gratitude myself.

Sometimes the ebb and flow of life brings you long periods of bliss followed by hard times. Other times it happens within 24 hours. Joy, sorrow, pleasure, pain. Buried in grief, then filled with celebratory victory for my friend, and able to appreciate all that I am given. It's all about PERSPECTIVE. 

Today in Arizona, there are 75 new Americans from 32 different countries who came here to give themselves and their families hope for a better life. They all pledged their commitment to this country and we gave thanks for those who died for our freedom. Whatever your political views, God bless America. In that we are undivided.