Hurry Spring!


I don’t know about the rest of you, but I could do with a little spring instead of snow, ice, hail and winds. In honor of the upcoming equinox, here are some pictures meant to encourage Ma Nature!

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Backup – A Tough Issue


Cows need feed no matter what the weather.

Among the hats I wear is that of a nursing consultant. I experienced an interesting intersection today between my life as a ranch wife and my life as a nurse. I think it’s important, because it speaks to the aging of American farmers and ranchers and their problems finding backup when they have health issues. It’s also important because many medical professionals have no idea why their patients are resistant to some medical recommendations.

Ranch kids know about feeding time.

One of the nurse practitioners has an older patient who has quite severe back pain. We’re talking walking-bent-over-most-of-the-time pain. The rancher has no hired hands and no children. He has cows to feed daily. The NP has been trying to convince the patient he needs surgery. The patient refuses – “I have cows to feed.” The NP is frustrated, the patient is in pain. There is no meeting of the minds, partly because the NP doesn’t know what the patient and I know.

That hay doesn’t spread itself.

It’s not too hard to find someone who will bring in the mail, feed your cat or dog or water your plants if you need to have surgery. It’s downright tough – if not impossible – to find someone who can feed your cows, knows how to tell if they are healthy or pull a calf (many ranchers in this area are calving right now.) Someone who knows how to get bales out of a haystack without getting hurt or making the stack unstable. You need someone who can shoot a coyote or feral dog that’s attacking a calf. Someone who knows how to fix a fence if necessary. Someone who can drive a tractor in a muddy field and not get stuck. Someone who knows enough to pick up all the baling strings so the cows won’t eat them right along with the hay.

Brand new baby, just on her feet for the first time.

Taking time off for a back surgery means three to five days in the hospital and several months of recovery time, during which you can’t feed your cows. So your relief person is tied down doing those chores – that’s a sizable commitment. No to mention, that for many ranchers, it’s not just feeding the cows – there may also be horses, pigs, chickens or a milk cow on the place. When hubby had his back surgeries, I was able to take over all those tasks. If I hadn’t been able to the cow would probably have gone dry – darn few people know how to milk cows any more.
A rancher needs a lot more than a warm body to cover him or her for a health problem. Our ranchers are aging and few people have the necessary skills to help. I understand how the rancher feels – and I guess I need to spend a little time explaining things to the NP.

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Look Beneath the Surface


This beauty is more than skin deep – iris Beverly Sills (1979).

Pretty is as pretty does.
You can’t judge a book by its cover.
Beauty is only skin deep.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Despite the prevalence of such pithy sayings, humans are much more likely to pay attention to what’s on the outside than what’s on the inside. This is true whether we’re talking about reality TV stars, politics, chocolate cake, houses, automobiles, animals or the immune system. Thus the Kardashians – undeniably attractive on the outside – get a lot more attention than someone like Jane Goodall. People injure themselves trying to take selfies. Powerful moguls, politicians and doctors get away with sexual harassment because only appearances matter. Colorful hybrid flowers that can’t reproduce themselves dominate gardens. The red tomatoes that dominate the supermarket are artificially ripened with ethylene gas and taste like cardboard. And finally, we frantically try to protect ourselves from viruses, bacteria and fungi by using antiseptic cleaners, flu shots and such while eating sugar-laden foods or other non-nutrients that damage the immune system.

In the health arena, doctors all too often look at the symptoms (outside) for which one can provide a medication and thus “solve” the problem. The real issue, however, is a derangement or lack of some sort in a body system (inside). The pill may mask the symptom, but it isn’t a solution and it doesn’t promote health. In fact, the pill nearly always has one or more side effects, which are then treated with another pill. Did you know that in the US, the population takes an average of 12 prescription medications each? Even for kids (ages birth to 18), the average is 4. For those over age 80, it’s 29! There’s something wrong with this picture – or as Joel Salatin is fond of saying, “Folks, this ain’t normal!”

Let me give you an example. Both my parents were traditionally trained surgeons. Chiropractors were quacks, herbalism was “that weird Oriental stuff.” When I started to have blood pressure problems, I first went the conventional route. My conventionally-trained physician treated the obvious and visible symptom – my blood pressure. However, the medications resulted in dizziness, low sodium levels and similar negative side effects like a very low pulse. A friend suggested chiropractic. After a few sessions, my blood pressure was under control – it became very clear that my thoracic spine alignment was the key. When T3 and T4 (thoracic vertebrae) were out, my blood pressure would spike. After almost two years of regular treatments, exercise and attention to my posture, my blood pressure stabilized. Along the way – because I was checking my readings several times a day – I discovered that eating wheat or sugar also caused an elevation. So did taking NSAIDs like ibuprofen, which have since been linked to heart failure. The root cause was spinal alignment, but wheat, sugar and NSAIDs were contributing factors. These days, my blood pressure is on the low side of “normal,” and I am symptom-free – no medications and no side effects.

The outward appearance of a problem – high blood pressure readings (outside) – resulted from a spinal alignment problems (inside). Got another pithy saying for you: appearances can be deceiving.

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