Carpet Bombing and New Cancer Care

February 10th, 2016 by Nick Jacobs No comments »

In the presidential debates we’ve recently been re-exposed to the phrase “carpet bombing.” This phrase typically means saturation bombing, which indicates large in-flight bombing done in an advanced manner that is intended to inflict maximum damage in every part of a selected area. It’s kind of like covering the floor with a carpet, but with much different results. This type of bombing was done periodically in World War II and the Vietnam conflict, and the results were as you might expect.  Unless humans were tucked away in a bomb shelter or were exceptionally lucky, they were annihilated in these bombing runs.

Now, let’s take a look a cancer treatment. I’ve been listening to and working with individual physicians and researchers who have decided that carpet bombing their patients may not be the best course of treatment anymore. For example, it wasn’t that many years ago that the typical treatment of breast cancer was a complete mastectomy, then chemotherapy and radiation, a very real form of medical carpet bombing.

The new movement in medicine is heavily tilted toward personalizing each patient’s care plan to their individual make-up. For example, one genetic test, called pharmacogenomics, can indicate the patient’s ability to metabolize certain medicines. That way, if you’re that one in one thousand person who shouldn’t have a specific type of medication, you’ll know in advance, and that knowledge might keep you from not experiencing sickening side effects to something that is critical to saving your life.

Although these tests have been available for quite some time, their use has been limited because of a lack of training for physicians, a lack of techs to run the equipment, and a complete lack of interpretive skills after the test is administered. All of those areas of concern are being aggressively addressed and will result in these tests becoming available  within a very short time.

The really interesting news is that genetic testing of tumors is driving personalized medicine in radiation oncology, too. A recent study that used a genetic test to assess radiation sensitivity of primary tumors and metastases suggests potential for genetic testing to help guide radiation therapy, too.

We know that patients have different clinical responses to radiation, but the way we treat them doesn’t acknowledge that difference. Researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida, are focusing on integrating genetic measures into radiation oncology so as to begin to understand the mechanisms of how to treat patients more effectively.

So, if we take that example of carpet bombing the disease but apply stereotactic breast biopsy, lumpectomy, and genetic testing to determine what type of drug will not only be tolerated but will also be the best treatment for the patient, and add similar genetic testing to determine radiation efficacy, we will begin to make real personalized progress.

Here’s some even more radical information, however.  Your circadian rhythm can impact the effectiveness of your chemotherapy.  Dr. Kevin Block has found that the actual time of day that the chemo is administered can impact curative rates up to as much as 25 percent more positively.  So, let’s add the following integrative approaches as well:

  • Comprehensive Integrative Assessment for Individualizing Treatment & Care – addressing patient profiles and treatment plans
  • Therapeutic Nutrition Program with Exchange System and Individualizing to Disease, Clinical, Drug and Laboratory Parameters
  • Personalized Physical Care Plan including fitness, manual therapy, acupuncture/acupressure/hyperthermia/cryotherapy
  • Personalized Biobehavioral Care Plan
  • Optimization of Circadian Health

Now we’re talking about personalized cancer care that should be available to everyone, but based on the speed of science compared to the speed of acceptance, we’re still probably years away, and that is my frustration. Science should be translational, and unless or until we can speed up the marriage of science and medicine, many of our loved ones will suffer unnecessarily.

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Starbucks

February 5th, 2016 by Nick Jacobs No comments »

The other day one of my more cynical friends saw me at a coffee shop, aggressively walked over to my table, and interrupted a very important business meeting. As is typical of our relationship, he threw out as many insults as he possibly could think of in the opening three minute volley of introductions, then he smiled and said, “I read your articles.” To which I replied, “Thanks that means a lot to me.” (I lied.) Then he said, “You know, considering that you typically write about absolutely nothing, you don’t do a bad job.”

In a left-handed complimentary sort of way, that kinda made my day. I felt like Larry David when he described the “Seinfeld” show as, “A show that’s about absolutely nothing.” From nothing sometimes came some great laughs.

Speaking of which, my 8-year-old granddaughter confided in me today. She told me that when I used to say that “I was going to work at Starbucks,” she thought that I was actually a Barista. Then she said, “Poppa, I thought it was really cool that you were getting to work there and drink good coffee.” She admitted that it wasn’t until two years later she figured out I meant I was sitting in Starbucks having meetings and using my computer for work.

It’s amazing to me how places like Starbucks have become home base for so many intinerant workers like me. Not unlike Uber and Airbnb, the new sharing economy allows folks to live a different kind of non-office life. With all of the connectivity available now through the Internet, social media, and cellphones, you can have a desk in your home with no central office anywhere. Hence, when you’re on the road between appointments, places like Starbucks become your office.

The good news is that you don’t have all of the overhead of owning or renting an office building: no expensive signage, and no need to restrict your employees to living in a certain geographic area. The world is literally your oyster. The bad news is that we’re not an overly friendly society, and sometimes you just want to be able to talk to someone at the water cooler.

What it takes to build a non-centralized company is to train yourself to be able to let go of control. You have to hire people that you can trust, self-starters who don’t need constant supervision. Then you set up parameters that are acceptable to you as the head honcho. Once you find that happy zone that allows you to accept the fact that you’re not going to be able to watch everyone at their desk all day, it can work pretty well. And it does, except for the isolation thing for the gregarious ones.

Obviously, the use of these alternative restaurant/coffee shop offices has become so big so fast that some companies have taken steps to limit the overuse of their places. They don’t want you to live there. One place turned the music up so loud that it’s hard to talk on the phone. Another limited access to the Internet during peak times, and others cut back on electric outlets.

So what can be done to help those of us not physically working in an office building? How can we avoid that feeling of isolation? Even a crowded coffee shop, offers little interaction. Here’s my idea: Create a place where people who pay a few extra bucks will get red coffee cups.

Then they have to talk to each other once in a while. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t need to happen when you’re in a meeting or tied up in deep thought, but the red cup can be a sign that indicates that you’re social and miss the water cooler. Bam! Talk to me, baby.

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Moon Shot 2020

January 21st, 2016 by Nick Jacobs No comments »

What’s going on in Windber, in Washington, D.C., and in the United States that could change the practice of medicine forever? Last week you may have heard about President Obama’s appointment of Vice President Joe Biden to head up Moon Shot 2020, an effort intended to wipe out cancer. Within minutes after the State of the Union address, pundits began to point out all of the other presidents of the United States who had announced exactly the same goal. This time, however, partially because of what’s happening in Somerset County and Windber, there may actually be a chance that this goal could be met.

Medicine is in the midst of a genomic revolution. The approach is often referred to as personalized, individualized, or precision medicine. They all mean the same thing: using technologies to sequence a person’s DNA, analyze the person’s unique characteristics, and then treat the person as a distinctive individual rather than a statistically average person. Too many times, however, we hear about remarkable discoveries in science that come with a disclaimer that they are not yet available to patients. Sometimes it takes decades to reach our physicians and hospitals. The gap between breakthrough scientific discovery and the actual implementation of these findings in practice is a major challenge. New discoveries and innovations, no matter how valuable, mean very little until they can reach a patient’s health care in practice.

There are currently 26,000 genetic tests offered for more than 5,400 conditions, and the number is growing quickly. The Global Genomics Market is expected to reach $22.1 billion by 2020, growing at an estimated 10.3 percent from 2014 to 2020. Other industry analysts estimate at least double-digit growth in gene sequencing through the next several years, and likely exponential growth. This is the secret sauce to the Moon Shot 2020 initiative.

The work that has been going on at the Windber Research Institute since 2001 has contributed to the progress of genetic research. By using already existing relationships with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, WRI has been producing significant testing for not only military patients but also for the National Cancer Institute. Now that Dr. Patrick Soon Shiong’s nonprofit foundation, the Chan Soon Shiong Institute for Molecular Medicine has taken over WRI and Windber Medical Center, they have become a major participant in Moon Shot 2020.

It won’t be long before individuals interested in knowing their pathway to personalized care will be helped across the world. Vanderbilt University already advertises daily, “Come to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and you will never receive the wrong heart medication.” This is the result of genetic testing. This genetic testing would not only beamajor medical tourism draw for Somerset County, it could also be an amazing gift to those patients who cannot tolerate certain heart, oncologic, or other drugs. Rather than experimenting with drugs,a simple and relatively inexpensive genetic test can be used to reveal the genetic predisposition to absorb whatever drug is prescribed.

The Windber Research Institute as a partner with the Department of Defense, Col. Craig Shriver, MD, and the John P. Murtha Cancer Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center has collected more than 60,000 donated tissues with hundreds of fields of information on each patient. Their work continues to provide innovative, clinical gene testing that will contribute to national quality medicine that will lead to wellness and prevention.

Windber Medical Center also began innovative work in integrative medicine back in 1997, and that work has yielded significant positive information internationally by demonstrating that simple things like diet, exercise, and stress management can significantly impact our genetic predisposition to certain diseases.

Windber has been in the business of creating transformational experiences that will positively impact the lives and health of patients for more than 15 years, and is now positioned to be recognized as a national model for healthcare reform

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A Five Year Interlude in Arts Management

January 6th, 2016 by Nick Jacobs 1 comment »

It was January of 1980, and the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Pittsburgh Press all ran this advertisement: Wanted Executive Director forarural arts organization in Somerset. The want ad went on to read something like: This is a particularly incredible opportunity for the right person with the appropriate skills.

Just seven months earlier, I had decided to leave my teaching position in Johnstown to take a job in fund development for schools in the Pittsburgh area. After training in July,Istarted my job in August, and 11 of my 14 schools went on strike. Immediately after that, the Iran oil crisis hit. People in sales were permitted to purchase rationed gasoline in order to continue to do their work, but it meant sitting in hours long lines on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Needless to say this career decision was not one of my best, but the rest of the story includes the fact that the house that we had purchased in Pittsburgh had building jacks hidden in the walls. The repair work, lost income from the strikes, and the cost of the move ended up completely wiping out what little savings a teacher could have amassed.

So, on a Sunday afternoon, I made what I considered to be a Hail Mary decision and sent a resume and application for the position of executive director of Laurel Arts and the Dressler Center for the Arts. Because it was clear to me that my training and background had almost nothing to do with running an arts center, I approached my unexpected interview with a somewhat cynical but light-hearted air, and ended up making wise cracks for most of the session.

To my surprise that worked because three of the five people interviewing me were fun guys in their late 20s or early 30s. Another person was impressed with my references. The last person, a real artist, seemed to tolerate the decision to bring me back for a second interview.

I got the job, and on the very first dayIarrived in my threepiece, brown, polyester, Johnny Carson suit and walked into the office thatIshared with the volunteer administrative assistant. She looked at me and said, “What are you doing?” I explained thatIwas starting to work. She then said, “See that wood burner? It needs to be fired to heat this place, and I’m not doing it.” That was the beginning of a five-year relationship that will forever be lodged in my brain and heart.

Her name was Dorothy Burnworth. Dorothy was a retired elementary school teacher and former member of the Women’s Army Corps. Once, when I asked her why she had never been married, she smiled and said, “I don’t like to dance backwards.” She was intelligent, forthright, an unbelievable worker, and dedicated to the Dressler Center.

Like most of us, however, she did have a few flaws. A former CEO who tangled with her once told me she could be “meaner than a boiled owl.” Most of the, however, time she was fun and extremely competent.

My job there was to be the visionary, the idea man, the face of the organization. In those early days, she was the implementer and the operations director. If, for example, I’d decide to set up 123 classes in Senior Centers all over Somerset County, she’d get the rooms lined up, hire the teachers, enroll the students, collect the money, and announce snow days when needed.

She also became the Sergeant Major to the half-dozen people that we hired and the 300 volunteers who helped start Somerfest. Dorothy made Laurel Arts work, while she trained her successor, Lori. I’ll never forget our time together.

She had traveled the world but decided to spend five years of her retirement with me.I can hear her now, “Saint Peter, get those people in line or suffer the consequences!”

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I Led Two Lives

January 1st, 2016 by Nick Jacobs No comments »

As a kid I thought I remembered watching a television series called “I Led Two Lives.” It was a series about a person who was a double agent: a spy and an advertising executive. When I Googled it today, though, it turned out that the show was called “I Led Three Lives,” which really screwed up this introduction because as a kid I only led two lives: Italian and English.

During the week we lived with my mother’s parents — a British/Scots-Irish couple, immigrants to the United States back in the 1600s. They were sons and daughters of the American Revolution, and the entire family was made up of Presbyterians who had converted from being Quakers. One of my grandfather’s way-back grandfathers, Jacob Beeson, founded Uniontown, Pennsylvania. My mom’s father was an engineer on the railroad, a high-paying and prestigious job. Two of my Anglo-Saxon uncles were also railroad engineers, and one was a stockbroker/business executive.

The other side of my family tree was filled with olives because my dad’s folks had immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s from Alvito, Italy, when jobs for immigrants were plentiful. At age 13, my Italian grandfather began work in a toy factory. He was a logger in the Midwest and helped to build the Highland Park Zoo and Mellon Square Park in Pittsburgh before ending up in Dawson working for a millionaire coal baroness.

During the week I lived on one side of the tracks, and on the weekends, I got to hang out on the other side with my Italian grandparents. Needless to say, the vast majority of my fun took place on the weekends. They had chickens, ducks and geese, a creek that ran through their yard, and 500 acres of woods to play in on Sundays.

During the week I studied, practiced my trumpet, delivered newspapers, kept my nose to the grindstone and also kept the noise down so that my elderly grandmother was not overwhelmed with my playfulness. On the weekends, however, everything was fair game as we played in the woods, chased the chickens and laughed. One house was alcohol free and the other house had plenty of homemade wine. One house was proper, and the other house was replete with ornery fun and mischief. One house was Presbyterian and we sang “That Old Rugged Cross” while the other was Catholic and we sang Gregorian chant in church and still said our church prayers in Latin.

It was the best of both worlds because my dad had adapted his life to the proper English way becoming a respectable businessman and community leader, but he also made sure that we experienced the fun, food and warmth of Italy on Sundays. My Italian grandparents were very poor, but except for the fact that they didn’t have a car, there was no way of measuring their poverty. They had a television set, plenty of food and more love to distribute than any four families. Their home was warm and comfortable, and happy and kid cuddling was mandatory.

Although my home had plastic covers over the lamps and furniture because my grandparents had raised eight children there, my English grandfather’s money was spent wherever it could do the most good. They were kind, caring, good people. It was just a more refined, calmer form of love: less hugging, kissing and open expression, but still filled with deep commitment.

It wasn’t until decades later that I realized what a gift my multiethnic upbringing had been. It opened my mind and my heart at some basic level to those who came to America to find a better life and to embrace the freedom of this amazing nation. As we enter this season of giving, let’s remember the immigrants because, except for the Native Americans, we all came here from somewhere.

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Three Weeks Before Christmas

December 9th, 2015 by Nick Jacobs No comments »

Three weeks to go

‘Tis three weeks before Christmas, and panic sets in

Must buy gifts for the holidays; where to begin?

The oldest wants skis, some new goggles, and mittens

The youngest girl just longs for Barbies and kittens

The second-grade girl wants what gifts most of all?

A puff vest, a head set, another big doll

And speaking of that, one girl asked for the best

A toilet and bath tub to go with the rest

Of the 18-inch doll things I’ve bought for two years

Which included a shower to clean her doll’s ears

They have couches and tables, some lamps, and a bed

A washer, no dryer, and a big double bed

There are lights and end tables, a fridge, and a sink

Heck, this doll’s house is better than mine; yeah, you think?

They have play clothes, and dress clothes, and even a bra

Some pajamas and undies, and one gown I saw

Now what’s our eccentric one want? That’s a challenge

She’s smart and creative, a thinker with talent

She’d probably like some tough book or a game

Or a new 3D puzzle to drive us insane

Then there’s finally, the baby, that 1-year-old guy

He’d like a toy hammer or things that can fly

Like bubbles, or airplanes, a drone or a kite

Or anything else he can hit, throw, or bite

I also buy stuff for some nephews and then

I give cash to some others and then give again

To Toys for Tots, churches, and homeless kids, yes

I give money to missions, and you know the rest

Of course I must buy things for all of our brood

And don’t forget neighbors and guys nicknamed Dude

When I hear my friends mention Jolly St. Nick

I can fit that description: I’m old, fat, and quick

To reach for my wallet and give it away

Yep, the only thing this Nick won’t buy is a sleigh

Cause I’m much more like Goldilocks than that old elf

I don’t like it too cold or too hot myself

But I’ve also found out after decades of living

That it’s better to imitate the Zuckerbergs’ giving

Cause you can’t take it with you; no matter, my friend

So you might as well share it and share it again.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanuka

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Warped Universe?

November 30th, 2015 by Nick Jacobs No comments »

Dr. Lisa Randall, a Harvard PhD and theoretical physicist, should have been my teacher. If Lisa had been my teacher, I’m sure that I would have become a theoretical physicist. Of course, she’s from the wrong generation to have been my teacher; I’ve never met her, and have no idea what she’s like, but what if ?

There are probably several other glitches in my thinking. For example, I’m sure that Harvard was not high on the list of schools knocking down my door for undergraduate admission. Plus, having enough money to go to Harvard in the 60’s would have been unthinkable. But at least theoretically, I would have loved having her as my teacher, and hypothetically, her class would never have been on my cut list.

After having heard her being interviewed today, I was completely engaged. Learning about particle physics, supersymmetry, and cosmology from Lisa would have rocked. Even guys like Charlie Rose agree that her theories on the existence of extra dimensions have made her one of the most famous scientists in the world. She’s alsoabest-selling author of several books including: “Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe” and “Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions,” which was cited by the New York Times as mind-bending reading, a play on words, right? That book’s title was the grabber for me.

Why this sudden obsession with Lisa Randall? Besides the fact that she’s brilliant, articulate, talented, attractive, and a creative thinker, she’s introduced a theory that I just love. By means of complex math, Dr. Randall theorized that space and time could be warped. That’s right, warped. She’s saying that the universe could be warped, and my goodness, that would explain so much. She argues that our universe exists inathree-dimensional “brane” within a higher-dimensional universe. One theory is that our universe was created by two branes smashing into each other.

OK, to be clear, that’s brane, like membrane, and if you’re a Big Bang or String Theory kind of person, the mere fact that an additional brane could exist makes this all so much more interesting. I’ve always thought that there are other dimensions about which we have no knowledge, and the fact that she thinks the universe may be warped is nothing new to me.

I’m absolutely sure that my interpretation of this warped theory is in no way related to her theory, but you’ve got to admit that having suchabrilliant person determine at least in some theoretical model that the universe is warped makes all of this so much more understandable and believable. How else could we explain the fact that my 2-year-old grandson told us that he was talking to my mom who had died three years before he was born. or that Long Island Medium talking to dead uncle Adam who’s telling his wife to make sure she gets her oil changed.

There has to be something smarter than us in this universe because we’re almost completely cerebrally challenged. Heck, we’re still running around shooting each other over whose God is the better God, and they are the same God. Do you see where I’m coming from when a fourth dimensional warped brane is added to our three dimensional warped brains?

The fact that we could discover through the work of the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator that Klauza-Klein particles might be able to traverse the universe through extra dimensions is awesome. This seems out there, but wouldn’t it be great if, this Thanksgiving week, we could find a nicer, kinder, gentler and smarter dimension just next door? No matter which dimension you happen to inhabit over the next few days, have a Happy Thanksgiving, and if you can, please,“Beam me up, Scotty!”

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Savage Capitalism!

November 21st, 2015 by Nick Jacobs No comments »

I’ve been getting emails from my more conventional friends regarding a small inanimate object that has been upsetting them for the last few years. It’s fascinating to me that they are so distraught over what I consider to be a touch of creative genius that has generated millions of dollars, no tens of millions of dollars, maybe even hundreds of millions of dollars for its creators.

Their contempt feels like it is against all good things relating to capitalism. You know, every child dreams of growing up, getting that one good idea that has never been commercialized before, and retiring to Fort Lauderdale at the age of 39 to just play around on their 120-foot yacht with that helicopter on board for short shopping trips.  

When you take the guided inter-costal waterway tour, guides will point out some $30 million mansion and say, “This is the house that’s owned by the guy who invented the scratch off lottery ticket.” and “That next 75 million dollar house on your right was built by the guy that came up with Post-it Notes.” It’s the American dream: The Pet Rock, the Chia Pet, Rubik’s Cube, the Hula Hoop, and the Slinky. No one ever seems to be upset over these items.

Of course they say that Pet Rocks are stupid, but what they mostly say is, “Gosh, I wish I had invented that.” Remember the Mood Ring, those rubber band bracelets, the Barbie doll? Like I said, it’s the American dream!  

You come up with something that’s simple, can be mass produced, is a catchy idea, can easily be manufactured in China, and is within the price range of every American, and you’ve got it made for the rest of your life.    

Okay, so the problem is when you cross old beliefs with new attitudes to get similar results. For example, you break the law and instead of being incarcerated, you get to wear an ankle bracelet and only are permitted to leave your home for church and funerals. What’s wrong with good ole prisons? (Especially a good old for-profit prison owned by Uncle Bill.)

How about this one, you go to school, you act out, and instead of going to the assistant principal’s office to be paddled, you are given a week’s detention. Remember The Breakfast Club?

I’m sure by now that most of you have figured out that I’m talking about that vigilant, 1984-ish character that lurks around the home from November until Christmas Eve, the enforcer, the seer and know it all, Columbo, the little one who will bust small children for missbehaving during this very tense time of the year, The Elf on the Shelf.

One of the protestor’s favorite sayings is that they never needed an Elf on the Shelf to behave because they always had a belt on the shelf, and that belt was available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for 365 days a year. If you didn’t obey the rules, that belt would keep you in line. It was the old beat-you-into-submission rule of child raising that they embrace.

Truthfully my dad hit me with his belt once when I was six or seven years old, and he used his hand on my backside a few times. But once I got past age seven, I grew up in a generally peaceful environment. I do remember my Italian grandmother constantly telling me that “Goda is watching you, and if you don’t takea the garbage out for you momma, you will burn ina hell.” That was a really good motivator.

So I say that the little creative genius that hangs off the cupboard door, the fireplace, or wherever you want to put him or her is amazing. When the kids are bad just say, “The elf is watching you.” 

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From a Director’s Point of View

November 15th, 2015 by Nick Jacobs 1 comment »

After 30 plus in health care, it hit me that my job is exactly the same now as it was my first year of teaching: putting it all together. Actually, it started when I was just eight years old, and I entered the world of music. I learned to participate in an ensemble, a group of musicians who worked tirelessly to make the most amazing music they could possibly make.

It became clear to me a few weeks ago that the group in which I am currently serving, the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine, is attempting to do exactly the same thing: put it all together.

Try to imagine, if you will, a group of musicians that just has three types of instruments: a tuba, a bassoon, and a pair of cymbals. Now that combination would make some pretty strange sounds. Then try to hear in your head a full orchestra with every instrument playing the theme from Star Wars. What a difference.  Each individual musician adds his or her amazing talent and skill to the effort to perfect the sounds they are producing.

Similarly in sports, professional football teams are not just made up of the players. There are coaches, dietitians, strength trainers, psychologists, surgeons, chiropractors, physical therapists, and even financial advisors involved in producing winning teams. Why should life changing healthcare efforts be any different?

When we are children, we are taught things that, in many cases, stay with us for life. We are corrected by our parents, teased and sometimes tortured by our siblings, and challenged unmercifully by our playmates. During this time we also learn what it takes to please our parents, our teachers and our elders.

These thoughts, actions and reactions often start out as tiny strings connected to us that continue to grow in both strength and influence in our minds into ropes that eventually become chains. These chains become steel cables that can wrap around our belief system and our self-images like metal strait jackets.

These issues often reinforce our insecurities, and throw us into meteor showers of self-doubt. They can deprive us of happiness, and sometimes they deprive us of love, but they most definitely deprive us of true health.

These beliefs often contribute to things like working ourselves to near death. Even when we realize that we need help to change, that change is incredibly difficult. The truth is that we often can’t make these changes without help, lots of help, but accepting help is also something that we’re not used to doing. So, we continue to flounder and stagger along our tortured paths.

Who can we turn to? And who has enough knowledge, information, training, and skill to help us?

Integrative medicine practices put together groups of professionals that include individuals from all areas of healthcare expertise, ranging from dietary advice, to attitude advice. Their job is simply defined: to assist you in achieving or regaining your own happiness, health, and well-being by supporting you in recapturing balance in your life.

They provide you with a menu of modalities and experts from which to choose, and you will be nurtured in body, mind, and spirit by professionals who specialize in life-changing work. It’s not about business. It’s about YOU. And it is intended to do one thing: help you find your way back to balance. It’s designed to help you by providing unconditional love while you find your way home, wherever that home may be. It will help you break away those chains and reach deep into the pools of strength that will free you to love and enjoy life.  

The challenge is that our current system is still deeply immersed in sick care. Health and wellness is not yet on their radar screens, but it’s coming to a neighborhood near you. Integrative Medicine is the future of healthcare. 

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AIHM – Who can? American.

November 1st, 2015 by Nick Jacobs 1 comment »

Growing up, I remember phrases from commercials like, “Who can? AmeriCAN. The American Heating and Cooling Company.” Or “800-325-3535” sung to a melody that will forever be locked in my mind.  It’s still a functional 800 number for Sheraton Hotels. How about “There’s a Parker made by Jotter with a T-Ball Tip.” Some things just never leave our memories.  They are implanted deeply in our conscious and subconscious minds. Here’s another list of memories that will never go away. “Eat some fruit or “You’re not leaving this table until you finish your vegetables.” And this one, “Go outside and play!”

These were all phrases that we Baby Boomers heard regularly as kids growing up in our “Leave It to Beaver” homes.

Seven years ago a prominent, San Francisco area based physician, Dr. Lee Lipsenthal, invited me to become a member of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine.  This was an organization made up entirely of physicians. In fact, as the only non-physician on the board, there were plenty of meetings where we simply looked or listened to each other in wonderment where they were thinking, “What is he doing here?” And my thoughts went something like, “Wow, these are brilliant people, but we’re never going to get anything done if we don’t get out of the weeds.”

That group has now grown into the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine and is an inclusive group that has representation from every modality of healers in the Integrative fields from nurses to acupuncturists and from energy workers to holistic nurses and Naturapaths. There are over 400,000 practitioners now represented in some manner in this group, and they are striving to become the world’s leader in wellness and prevention. Their primary focus is not dissimilar to the phrases above in that they are devotees of diet, exercise, stress management and group support.

The interesting thing about this collection of humanity is something that is perfectly clear to me yet still sometimes a struggle for you. You see, Lee was a guitar player, and I, of course, was a trumpet player and instrumental music director. In music school you can train to be a Diva or an ensemble player with solo capabilities.  Lee didn’t ask me to be on this board specifically because I ran hospitals. He knew that my background included directing ensembles, and that is exactly what the AIHM is supporting, ensemble medicine.

In a discussion with one of my proteomic scientists years ago, it became clear to me that he was a Diva. He had completed his PhD on one particular complex piece of analytic equipment, and every time we got together in a group, it was as if he was a hammer and the world was all nails. My favorite term for describing him was as a piccolo PhD. The piccolo sounds great in an ensemble, but we never attend solo piccolo concerts. Piccolos are best utilized in an ensemble setting.

The AIHM is moving us from individual Diva practitioners to ensembles of healers where the talents of each and every individual are brought to bear for each patient in ways that could never be singularly captured as soloists. Their work is so much richer, deeper, and more profound and beautiful as an ensemble. Each practitioner brings his or her healing capabilities to the individual patient and utilizes their discrete training and skills in concert.

Does your gut hurt? Why not have a Naturopath assist you in clearing up your candida with probiotics, herbs, and specific foods while your physician, acupuncturist, and massage therapist works on your other physical challenges to help you achieve optimal health and wellness? It just makes sense and is the first real effort to make wellness and prevention the center of our universe.

Take a step back and listen to the music from a team of incredible professionals working together to help you.

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