Loneliness

Loneliness

Recently, my son and I were out standing in front of our home on the sidewalk and we met a young Mom from our neighborhood walking her dog and with her toddler backpacked along for the adventure.  We started talking and I immediately remembered the loneliness of those moments of motherhood. These three were such a happy scene to behold but the deeper aspects of suffering were right there for me in the mother’s eyes.  This super aware Mom and I actually openly discussed maternal loneliness and I told her to please stop by when she was out walking. If only for a few moments, I made sure she knew I was happy to hold her in an authentic space as she journeyed.

Although my child is now 6 years old and lovely to talk to, I still miss companionship with adult company. My husband is a surgical resident and gone a lot.  When he is here, he is exhausted and my child is better at demanding his scraps of energy and attention than I ever will be. And so again, the loneliness creeps in. It is so much better than it was when my own child was a toddler but still the weight of loneliness is there.

As a society we don’t often talk about the Shadow Lands of Motherhood.  All advertising dollars are spent to make sure that culturally no one sees any of it.  It took thousands of deaths for our culture to begin to even have a conversation around postpartum fragility.  And now, it seems that public conversation has simply turned lamely into Pharma “solutions”. What if the threat of isolation doesn’t end in the 4th trimester?   Today I am writing to say that maternal/paternal loneliness is real and there is no pill strong enough to mask it.  Loneliness deserves our attention.  It may sound simple but just realizing that my loneliness deserves my awareness and my tenderness has helped me experience and move through it.    

What I am wondering now is how do we better support each other in the journey?  How do we experience our loneliness so that we emerge stronger and healthier rather than it eating us or further isolating us?  How can we do a better job of forming community around ourselves and others? How do we ask for support when we need it?

I am journeying these questions myself and will write more as I discover.  Today it felt like enough to simply pose the awareness and the questions.

Much tenderness,

Heather Kim, DO    

Measles and Herd Immunity

Measles and Herd Immunity

A large-scale measles epidemic is coming due to the loss of herd immunity.  The media is currently being primed for this. The responsible parties for the coming morbidity and mortality will never be held accountable.  I am risking writing this in attempt to help protect the innocent.

Often with nature, man pushes and then nature shoves.  In our attempt to eradicate measles in a manner where an extremely small group got rich, rather than improving global nutritional strategies, breastfeeding rates and distribution of wealth, we have created the perfect conditions for a dangerous epidemic.  In the face of proper nutrition and within school-age children, measles was a very survivable disease. Age of onset was statistically the most important part of surviving measles. Nutrition status ranked close behind, particularly with regards to Vit A level.

In 2012, the Journal of Infectious Disease quietly published an incredibly important article, Waning Antibody Levels and Avidity: Implications for MMR Vaccine-Induced Protection.This study demonstrated a mechanism and supportive data as to why we are quickly losing our herd immunity to both measles and mumps.   This isn’t propaganda folks. This is the science that will never make the headlines. Partly, because it’s complicated and also, somewhat incriminating if you understand the big picture.  But, yes this should have been screamed from the treetops.  Yet, in these past 7 years, I never heard the call to come together to discuss what the implications of these results would mean for us as providers nor the populations we care for.

I am going to try my best to break this article down into simple English. When there was still native measles around both vaccinated and native-immune older folks could enjoy natural boosters throughout their lives without ever having to suffer the misery of full blown measles twice. For example, our grandparents having had the measles, were naturally boosted by taking care of their Baby Boomer offspring when they had actual disease.    

However with the Baby Boomers, the important change starts.  They did not have the natural booster of taking care of children with the measles.  Luckily for them though, natural disease usually will leave survivors with functional lifetime immunity.  

As I read the article, my concerns grew as I came to group 3.  The members of this group were 9-10 years old and only 4-5 years post vaccine administration and already we see numbers drop below threshold of herd immunity.  These children are the purely vaccinated kids in the time of “measles eradication.” This cohort, beyond the Baby Boomers, is actually quickly becoming the majority of the world’s population.  Here we find the potential epidemic.

Group 3 (n = 50) included children aged 10–11 years born after the elimination of MMR diseases from Finland [15]. The samples were taken from residual sera collected 4–5 years after age for the second dose of MMR in 2005 at the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district laboratory.

Somewhat concerning are the results of the most recently vaccinated group 3. Those in the group have lived their lives in an environment that can be considered completely free of natural boosters. As soon as 5 years after the second dose of MMR vaccination, 4% of the individuals were seronegative and 14% low positive for measles. However, the measurable antibodies in this group were of high avidity except for that of 1 individual.

If herd immunity for measles is around 90-95% do you see the potential problem?  And what do these low positive titers mean in the face of actual disease?  What do these same kids’ titers look like at 25?  This is 5 years post their last dose. What does 10, 15 and 20 years look like?

Have you ever heard the statement, vaccination does not equal immunity?  This is the science behind that statement. And, the worst part is the most dangerous effects will be felt by innocent infants under that age of one year who prior to the eradication efforts were normally boosted by maternal antibodies by breastfeeding.  Those babies are at a greater risk because mothers of this current generation have no immediately available high rates of passive antibodies to transfer via the breast milk.  Whereas pre-eradication era, they would have at least had that protection.

The other dangerous aspect of this data is that folks over 20 (the group with the largest waning immunity according to this study) are also at higher risk of complications.  Like with chicken pox, the inflammatory effects of measles in a non-immune older adults pose greater pulmonary risks.  In the CDC PowerPoint linked above do you see (<5 years and > 20… ) starting to see the more of the shape of the problem?  We have only eradicated a portion of the appropriate reservoir rather than the disease itself.

There is a small group of greedy humans that thrive in creating an enormous mess of the planet.  This will be another one for the record books that luckily will only affect us rather than the other critters and the air, water and soil.  My only solution is, if you are over the age of 20, is to have your titers checked and if they are low consider getting boosted. If you medically cannot tolerate vaccines, then the next best bet will be to make sure your Vitamin A/general nutrition status is appropriate.  If you are a hardcore Cheeto and Coke Zero kind of person, you better check your titers. Healthy nutritional status takes daily discipline and farm fresh foods. If you’re over 20, you can’t just pop a fistful of Vit A supplements and expect to survive this.

Non-breastfed, young infants under the age of one will suffer the most casualties. If there weren’t enough reasons to be pro-breastfeeding, here is another one. Even if mom hasn’t had true disease prior, in the face of active measles she will produce at least some antibodies eventually.  There are also cod liver oil/Vit A formulations appropriate for infants, and in the face of a measles epidemic young infants may benefit. If you are the parent of a young infant speak with your pediatrician on dosage.  Vitamin A is fat soluble and toxicity can happen if it’s not given carefully.

If you have the great fortune to live in a developed country and are part of the wealthier social class, and are able to afford to eat a healthy diet this supplement wouldn’t be required.  In researching this article, I found this heartbreaking Vit A study.  It wasn’t from a 3rd world nor a developing country.  It was done here in the States in NYC. If you are a physician caring for the ever-increasing lower socio-economic groups in America, remember the importance of Vit A.  Picky toddlers are another group that may benefit from an easier course of illness if supplemented.

If the public doesn’t wake up, the long-term results of the current vaccination program to eradicate measles will likely result in young infants at higher risk of mortality due to loss of maternal antibodies AND will result in a large population over the age of 20 with waning vaccine immunity at greatest risk of pulmonary complications due to disease outside the appropriate reservoir.  

As an ethical physician, I find informed consent extremely important.  Has the public given informed consent to this? As pediatricians on the front line, have we been given a chance to openly discuss the impacts of the current strategies?

What are the CDC, Pharma and the Feds (thanks to disgusting corruption, we should now be referring to them by the one unified name) doing currently?  The study I quoted came out in 2012… They have had 7 years to bring this to the public’s attention. Very predictably they’re busy blaming anti-vaxxers for the “loss of herd immunity.” This way, when the epidemics begin, the mob will have a scapegoat to burn on the pyres and we will have a nice natural booster.

The literal billions of dollars that have gone into the pockets of a few could have been used to create lasting change and improvement in the condition of health of children on the entire planet and thereby lowered the measles death burden in a lasting and profound way.  We could have developed nutritional and immune supportive regimens for measles with less morbidity and mortality thus maintaining our natural boosters. This would have resulted in true herd immunity and better health conditions for children globally. This could have happened if greed were not the dominant ethos of our current ruling class.

Instead, we find ourselves rallying for 200 year old technology like it’s holy water. Bloodletting is <100 year old technique just to give you a frame of reference. The reality is, the most powerful don’t give a flying F about you or your kids.  They are tapping their fingers together waiting for the epidemic they created so they can sell even more shots and hoards of expensive antiviral drugs to the frightened masses.  And, brilliantly they are currently fanning the flames via the media for the ensuing mob to take care of the anti-vax movement for them once and for all. 

This isn’t conspiracy theory.  This is the truth of greed.

Lets focus on some of the pros rather than the anti and I expect change could happen.  The most self-righteous will mob and listen to no one.

I am pro-science, pro-informed consent and pro-medical choice.  

 

 

All my views are free from financial influences and I have no conflicts of interests to disclose.

 

The Ease of Intuition

The Ease of Intuition

Jackrabbit with backlit ears - Big Bend National Park, Texas

To create more ease in my life, I have been exploring the instinctive portion of my gut that says, no, this is not safe.  Imagine a rabbit that gets the whiff of a dog on the breeze.  They don’t stop to think, “I see his name tag says Chewbarka, how bad of a guy can he be?”  Nor do they pour themselves a tiny rabbit glass of wine, waiting for the threatening feeling in their fur to relax.  Rather, its ears up, sniffer raised, dog scent =’s run. There isn’t deep pondering going on. There is adrenaline and it is circuited straight into the rabbit’s powerful legs to create movement away from the source of the rabbit’s dis ease.

Rabbits currently have more permission than most humans give themselves to respond to noxious stimuli.  The no that I sense from my gut, roots from a deep instinctual experience.  It is truly no different, nor less dangerous to ignore this sensation than ignoring a pack of dogs is to a fluffy bunny. When we allow ourselves to move away cleanly from an instinctively sensed not safe situation, there is an immediate sense of relief and relaxation as the adrenaline begins to be metabolized.  

Here’s where it gets tricky for humans.  We have noisy minds dictating to us from our trauma and so did our people.  Our own messy story over time compiles with that of the generations before us.  Unresolved trauma obscures the clarity of our instinctual circuits. It mucks up our ability to hold inner boundaries.  Trauma leaves us unattended in places and conversations where our guts are screaming, get the heck out here now!  The adrenaline is released and yet, we decide to stand frozen.  In milliseconds, we have decided that this “foe” can neither be killed nor can we get away.  Without the movement away, there is no relief and the adrenaline stays in the circuits.  This is the birthplace of chronic stress and literally most chronic dis ease.  The hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (the HPA) is how trauma manages to feed neurochemically into our daily lives.

To understand why this happens, imagine your deep gut instinct says not safe but an abuser or situation holds power over you.  Freeze (disassociation) becomes our only option for survival.  If this happens enough times in our lives, this freeze replaces our more native stress pattern of move away.  We stay frozen in horrific situations because we have lost the connection between our guts and our strong rabbit legs.  The only way to heal this connection is to find a trusted tribe to hold us as we return and process these scary places in life where we lost our power and connection to our intuitive instincts. Alone, this is nearly impossible.  We are humans and to thrive we need a tribe.

Rape froze a large chunk of my being.  I couldn’t get away and so I froze solid, for 15 years.  The chronic stress of freezing comes with a high price. The organ systems and cells that live in the areas of the freeze do not get the vitality that they deserve. Circulation to these areas literally changes as nerve impulses to these areas change. Eventually, the physical realm begins to cry out through physical symptoms. So much of what becomes chronic illness in adulthood is directly based in trauma and the freeze phenomenon that remain to be taken to resolution.  Beautifully, it was Gabrielle Roth’s version of dancing that brought the energy back to my legs and my lower body.  And with that returning awareness (defrosting) came deep grief, anger and personal struggle.  To be truly intuitive requires great bravery to face our deepest cuts and a solid therapist/coach/shaman to journey with us.  

The only way to develop the ease of an intuitive life is to courageously go back to where we lost it.  The first and hardest steps are to admit that there is deep healing needed and allow trusted others to hold us.  Over the past few years, my intuitive instincts have become wildly in tune. Conscious dance, yoga, boundary work, coaching and unconditional Love have been my keys.  Yours are unique to you. I can’t tell you what they are. I can only tell you that they are worth seeking.

The gorgeous mother and healer that I am is inseparable from my personal healing journey.  Today, I sense the wisdom of my gut with clarity. And finally, I have my powerful rabbit legs back with the absolute permission to use them to move away from anything that does not serve my soul.  It is this permission, my precious tribe, and the Love that has brought me into the greatest ease I have ever known. I am deeply grateful to you.

May this New Year continue to bring clarity and ease into each of our lives.    

-Heather

 

 

Healing resources

https://ondhealingandcoaching.com/  the best coach in the world. Ever. Tara.

https://www.being-shanti.com/  for deeper information on the “how to” of boundaries

http://www.evabunker.com/about/ for anyone that has a dream to bring to life

https://dancingfirelizards.com/about/ to dance awareness into being, movement is key

https://www.amazon.com/Sweat-Your-Prayers-Movement-Spiritual/dp/0874779596 best book ever on conscious dance

Tenderness

Tenderness

tenderness

¨I hold myself in tenderness.¨  This folks has become my mantra this week.  And, it is creating beautiful clarity in the way I am interacting with myself and my world. This is my first clear adult boundary.  I am currently in a beautiful online course with Shanti Zimmerman of Switzerland and an international group of brave souls. Shanti is a boundary Jedi. This is what I have learned so far. My tenderness turned inward is as unique as my fingerprints. I don’t know what yours looks or feels like. I can only tell you this, it is such a worthy investigation and magic will happen if you choose yourself.   

I want to admit that up until the past few weeks, I have handled myself quite roughly.  I have no regrets as I love what I do and who I am so very much. However, I am certain that medical school and residency likely would not have happened without my desperate need for external validation that ruled my 20´s (and really most of my 30´s).  Unlike the majority of other students, I was privy to this insight as it was unfolding. I also knew, even back then, that sometimes external validation with the right mindfulness can be the very thing that tips us into an internal sense of worth. I took a calculated risk.  

Becoming a physician is physical and mental torture.  I know because I lived it. I feel sweaty even typing this line because the culture of medicine is such that we don´t openly speak about the brutality of our training.  Speaking out is in itself is a sign of weakness and is ferreted out quickly and often silenced by some burned out wretch who trained before you. It seems ridiculous now that I allowed the EXACT same sentence to repeatedly silence me.  If you’re a physician you are familiar or may have even used the sentence of which I speak.  If you’re not, it starts like this, ¨Well when I was in training (x number of years prior), insert some version of how much more grueling the training schedule was back then.¨  For future reference physician readers, this is not an empathetic move. I too have been guilty of this. Like prisoners, we perpetuate the violence.

In medicine, speaking out is seen as complaining.  Now, I see how very different these two things are. I was unboundaried.  I willingly participated in a culture that I thought required me to have no boundaries.  Self-sacrifice and silence were probably the two most important qualities that were ingrained in me in my medical training.  These two are also the composite that forms the gnarly roots of many a physician´s depression, anxiety, and psychotropic drug use (both pharmaceutical and elicit). I cannot compassionately lead others towards health and healing without crystal clear boundaries.  And shocker guys, but silence and self-sacrifice are the exact opposite of being boundaried. Being boundaried looks like risking speaking up. It looks like all kinds of vulnerability to me (right now). AND, putting my needs first again and again until it becomes a natural way of being.  Sounds crazy? Like the recipe for becoming a real jerk? The EXACT OPPOSITE IS HAPPENING!!!!!! I am more gentle and kind than I have felt since childhood.

Today, and every day going forward I am committed to holding myself in tenderness.  I am working on my boundaries and getting way more clarity than I have ever had around what this actually means. (thanks Shanti).  For me, for now it is a practice. I don´t instinctively have it quite yet. Amazingly, what I already do have one week into this is such a sense of relief. I feel much safer at home in my own body and being and with others.  

We are all tethered in our journeys.  Where I go, you will feel a pull. May the vibration of this thread serve you in your beautiful unique way.  May you know that YOU matter most. I highly recommend you find and follow Shanti  if this type of work resonates with you.

 

Artist Credit:  Tenderness – Original Oil, by Jia Lu

The Farm Connection

The Farm Connection

Food-Xmas-Tree.jpg

Eating living foods is one of the most important steps you can take in ensuring your family’s health.  Years back, I read a phenomenal book called, Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimal Health by Jo Robinson.  Her work spread awareness of how truly dead the majority of foods are that arrive at our grocery stores.  In our bodies there is a constant balance being struck between oxidative stress and the antioxidants that we consume.  For those antioxidants to work, they need to still be ACTIVE!  A clock starts ticking the minute that carrot is pulled from the ground.  Did you know that those pretty bagged organic orange carrots have been sitting stored for ~6 months?  The antioxidant activity they have is zero by the time you eat them. Even the best, most expensive supplements cannot change this.  Nothing can replace eating real, living foods. So what do we do?

There is an amazing woman in our community named Beth Parks.  Many of you guys know her. Many of you are already members of the Farm Connection.  I was super late to this party. But I AM HERE NOW!!!!! I want to admit that there are times in my life when I get down on capitalism.  There are times I feel like I am being manipulated into buying things I don´t need and simply fed ideas that don’t source me. The Farm Connection has become my antidote.  Eva Bunker, my business coach noted how Beth´s business is the perfect example of how the beauty of entrepreneurial spirit can add value to our lives. When we see a need, figure out a solution that only we can figure out, that also adds value to all involved; this is capitalism at its best. Beth did this. She figured out a way to link the consumer and the farmers directly, benefiting all involved. If you are already hitting the farmer’s markets and getting fresh food, my hat is off to you.  If you are like me and struggle with the time and the space to make it all happen, The Farm Connection may be the answer.  As the Farm Connection has grown their ability to deliver has as well.  I can now have farm fresh foods that I choose delivered right to my door.  (If you like the culinary challenge of the random bag of produce typically delivered by CSAs they have that too!)  

Eating real food has been one of the most important first steps in my own healing process and working with others.  Inflammation and oxidative stress are very intimately related. Each and every living food we eat is healing because we live in a world teeming with oxidative stress.  Eating beautiful living, local food is both pleasurable and truly medicinal. If you have local family or friends to buy Christmas gifts for, I would consider a membership to the Farm Connection.  It is truly a gift to our local farmers, community and to our own bodies. I am so grateful to Beth, her family and her staff. Also Eating on the Wild Side is available at the San Antonio Public Library or Amazon.  A worthy read indeed!

 

     

Solid Introduction: Baby Led Weaning vs Purees

Solid Introduction: Baby Led Weaning vs Purees

julien

Starting solids can be a confusing time for both parents and babies.  As the entire subject matter deserves a book, this short article will serve as clarification around a popular movement called Baby Led Weaning.  

Right around 6 months many babies will lose their tongue thrust reflex, simultaneously begin to have sufficient core strength to sit with their esophagus right over their stomach and finally, their stomach’s lining will begin to acidify.  Some physical indications of readiness for solids include: babies sitting on their own confidently, not pushing food with their tongue straight back out, and deftly grabbing at things on your plate can all be signs of physical readiness.  

Much of the beginning of solids is truly more about exploration than nutrition. Emotionally some children are more adventurous than others. Food introduces brand new sensations through both taste receptors and the tactile senses both in the mouth and their fingers.  Some infants are excited by this new frontier while other babies shy from it. Luckily, until an infant is over 1 year old, the majority of their calories and nutrition will continue to come from breastmilk or formula.  Therefore, there is no need to rush. Know this though, an early refusal usually has less to do with the particular food and more to do with overwhelming sensations. I caution folks to introduce sugary fruits later because the sweetness can alter babies perceptions at both a neuronal and synaptic level.  Sugar, even fructose, is a powerful drug. Antioxidants are naturally a bit bitter. Just keep that in the back of your mind when choosing first foods. Introducing one food every 4-5 days will help you recognize if any given food doesn’t sit well in your infant’s system.

In the media there is a wonderful debate regarding purees versus table foods as the best way to introduce solids to infants.  In my community, Baby Led Weaning has taken hold. With any health movement, I strongly encourage parents to take this type of theory in stride and with a large grain of salt.  There is NO one perfect way to introduce solids to infants. Amazingly, folks have been doing pretty well making the transition to solids intuitively since the caveman days without any internet or commercial influence.

Mindfulness is always the most important first step of any transition.  Pay attention, play present witness to your individual developing baby. Some infants are good and ready for food way before others.  Some have a mouthful of teeth before others. Some infants have no teeth and act like they are entranced with each bite you feed yourself and they beautifully coordinate a chewing motion with just their gums!

Regarding the puree and table food battle, I do agree that most infants have a pretty decent gag reflex to help protect them from choking on their siblings Legos.  And, I do agree that gagging is not the same as choking. However, remember that gagging can scare both mom and infant and this can lead to aversions for both parties.  Know thyself. If you already know that seeing your kid gag is going to give you anxiety, start with purees or fork pressed foods from your plate. Remember that each of your babies temperaments are different.  Some fall and get right back up. Other go down and cry for a good long time. The same analogy applies to your young eaters, wherein some will gag and go right back to getting that baked carrot stick down. Unfortunately, some will not go back and aversions can start forming.

There are specific foods such as grapes, hot dogs, popcorn, raisins, uncooked hard veggies, fruits, and leafy vegetables that require grinding motion (2 sets of molars) or are shaped exactly like the airway of your child and clearly pose risk.  These are known hazards to young children. Even grown children should sit down and eat the above foods carefully. I also strongly believe that all parents would benefit from learning how to help a choking child.  Also, it is very important to be good at recognizing the difference between gagging and choking.  

One very difficult and important final piece is, if your child is gagging, do NOT be tempted to stick you finger in their mouth.  Allow them to work what’s back there forward or your gagging situation can become a true choking situation as your finger accidentally pushes what’s in their mouth further back than where they can’t get hold of it.

In summary, remember physical and emotional readiness come into play simultaneously and both parents and infant are players.  Purees and table foods can be great places to start. And, finally I see no reason developmentally to not use both.  There is no shame in the mush, the pouch nor the convenience of table foods.  They will grow up beautifully nourished whichever way you go.

As always, you know your infant best.  And, in the same moment, I am here for you as you journey.  Reach out with any specific questions.