Wednesday, June 12, 2019

What lurks at the bottom of the chasm?



When Dave Nicholl's published this particular blog post, I rejoiced.
Excerpt:

The model does not explain the real world. If it did, it would reside in the real world and one wouldn’t have to study to become a trained health professional to understand and apply it. Biomedicine then, at its worst, sits at odds with the people it is meant to serve; looking, again, rather like a spoilt (white, male), only child of very rich parents, in a room full of people whose lives are very different indeed.

But, then this piece caught my eye, and I rejoiced even more. Philosophical bias is unavoidable by science.
Excerpt: 

One school of thought viewed the new plant as a conventional hybrid and argued that, in most cases, one can deduce the safety of the new plant from knowledge of the safety of its parental GM plants. This means thinking about complexity as being various combinations of unchanging parts. The other school, however, argued that one cannot deduce the safety of the new plant from the safety of the parental GM plants. Here, complexity is thought of as an emergent matter where parts lose their properties and identity in the process of interaction.
Imagine: one idea of complexity is all about nouns (like plant parts) moving around as though they had autonomy or something, and another idea of complexity is that of emergence, that the plant parts are moved by their environment and relationships, interactively, and it's all contextual. 

Then I really rejoiced when I noticed this, today: The Burning Question





Trying to find anything specific in therapy of various kinds performed on alive awake cognizant individuals with pain reminds me of Tim Conway skits on the Carol Burnett show, ones in which he would play an old guy trying to open a door but banging it shut with his head, over and over.  


Why did I rejoice?
Because the mystery is becoming more clear. Not what can clear up the mystery.
So is the chasm.
And what is at the bottom of it. 


1.  https://criticalphysio.net/2019/06/05/critique-of-the-biomedical-model-2/
2. Philosophy of biology: Philosophical bias is the one bias that science cannot avoid.
3. 
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10161759445590183&set=gm.2231921840431689&type=3&theater

Teacher upgrade



When I got back from teaching DNM in Montreal I was exhausted as usual, but I feel like I can see a new vista in my internal landscape. I feel like I was enclosed in my own tunnel of ignorance about teaching for all this time, and didn't even realize I was in one, was dimly aware though how I was out there in the world teaching away with absolutely no teaching skills or tricks, just blurting out foundational stuff and showing a lot of powerpoint slides.
Yannick Wenger from France showed me a few new tricks - like how to draw more out of the minds of the people in the class by asking them what they remembered from the previous day, and making sure their purpose for being there was being fulfilled adequately. The French have been onto all this stuff ever since their revolution, it seems.
Thank you, Yannick.

Theory U
Social constructivism
Universal method of education (Jacotot)


What the class remembered. 

Saturday, April 20, 2019

"People need to feel HEARD, not HURT" (Lissanthea Taylor)




Is it really April? Already? 

("Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future..")

.............


So far this year has been technically prolific.
Technology is all around, and people who know how to use it, and want to use it.


1. An interview Lissanthea Taylor did with me at the San Diego Pain Summit in February. She came up with the great tagline, "People need/want to feel HEARD, not HURT".  PainChats is her brainchild, her attempt to get accurate information about pain out into the world and into the lives of as much of the public as possible, to change attitudes toward pain and the culture itself. She is part of Pain Revolution, an annual outreach bike tour in Australia that brings updated pain information to rural communities.

Know Your Nervous System And How It Causes Pain



2. A trip to Australia, and two more workshops done. Antony Lo filmed the first one in Noosa. All his filming will make it to Embodia, an online education resource for physios, affiliated with CPA, and the brainchild of Maggie Bergeron. It will be whittled down (a lot!) and (we hope) produced into an educational video.
He also interviewed me for his podcast, for PhysioDetective.



Antony Lo and his PhysioDetectivePodcast interview, March 2019




3. Nick Efthimiou hosted my workshop in Melbourne, and wrote up an overview of the time we spent together for his blog at Integrated Osteopathy.


10 Things I Learnt From 10 Days With Diane Jacobs

Previous to the workshop, he arranged for Stephen King of 21st Century Physio Podcast to interview me - Episode 017 - Diane Jacobs Brings You Into the 21st Century


Stephen King interviewing me at home, from Australia


..............................


Now it's time to go to Paris and teach the workshop prepared and hosted by Louise Tremblay. It will be fun to hang out with Louise there - she is Francophone,  knows the city well.
The rest of 2019 workshops are all on this continent - relief from jet lag until 2020.


...............................

















Thursday, November 29, 2018

The importance of STORIES

So many threads in my head coming together today.
Convergences!
Just one of those days I guess...
They are rare enough and welcome when they arrive.
Days when I feel inspired.

STORIES! 

1. An interview Mark Kargela has just done with Peter O'Sullivan and Joletta Belton (about an hour long on Facebook). Peter describes how important the patient's story is - the narrative they will offer (if you just ask them to tell it to you!) will contain all the bits needed for them to move on. Joletta concurs.
He is trying to develop a way of teaching clinical interaction in his work as an instructor, continue having a clinical practice, and how something had to give so it was the traveling/teaching workshops around the world, for a year*.  If anyone can manage to do it in a way the profession itself will notice and adapt, it will be him!! Go Peter go!!
In it, Mark mentions manual therapy that is "supportive, not corrective" and comes across that way to the patient. Very important, if you are out there in the world doing manual therapy and trying to cross the chasm from being operative toward being interactive. If you are trying to deal with a predictive brain, you have to set it up so it thinks recovery was its own idea.
(Here is a blogpost I did about Peter's workshop on Cognitive Functional Therapy at the San Diego Pain Summit a couple years ago.)

2. Monic Noij's wonderfully evocative blogpost, her story about how it felt/feels to do just that, cross the chasm, deal with cognitive dissonance, change the way you were taught how to 'be' (i.e., operative) into something else almost entirely (less operative), and the feeling of the ground disappearing out from under you as you step through the necessary cognitive changes.
It reads like a real adventure story fraught with danger, disappointments, eventual survival and after that, who knows?
Just read it:
What's on the path ahead? Adventures in crossing the chasm.
(Her blogposts are all very well-written - read them all.)

3. A wonderful description of the biopsychosocial model by Julie Tudor
The entire post is good, but this part is my fave, her story about how BPS model is like a lava lamp:

"We all see BPS or SPB (or PBS, for all I know) as being represented by this neat little Venn diagram of overlapping circles, each of the same size and importance. This is a fantasy, created by people who were still seeped in the priority of the biomedical approach. In reality, there are NO clear delineations.
NONE. ZIP. ZERO. ZILCH.
Those borders are smeared and loopy and smudged inextricably. It looks more like a triple colored blob inside a lava lamp, entangled in a constant ebb and flow, with little bubbles of each breaking off and dancing in and out of each other, while larger clumps may loll about at the base or flow up to engulf their errant offspring. One blob may appear bigger than the others, and then collapse into the weight of another color. These primary colors may also blend with those, and create a rainbow effect with no discernible beginning or end (...and no pot of gold, either)."
I really like the metaphor of the model described by her as being an impossible-to-ignore-or-manipulate verb, not a static, easy-to-manipulate-and-make-assumptions-about-or-ignore-entirely noun.

 4. A glowing book review by Harriet Hall of the book by James Alcock, Belief: What It Means to Believe and Why Our Convictions Are So Compelling.
For sure, this resonates with the whole cognitive dissonance experience (see point 3. above) that lays waste to any cherished beliefs we may have previously clung to as practitioners. It sure does suck bigtime, and hurts. You have to figure out how to grieve your own ego, then let it go.
The part that jumped out at me most in this book review however was Harriet Hall's account of the author's description, his story of three types of healing: 

"Belief and healing:  Feeling better after a treatment doesn’t necessarily mean we actually are better. Suggestion is powerful, healing rituals are persuasive. He covers Mesmer’s “animal magnetism,” placebo effects, sham surgeries, learned responses, expectancy effects, conditioning, social learning, and theological placebos. He says there are three types of healing: natural healing (the body heals itself), technological healing (drugs, surgery) and interpersonal healing that depends on context and personal interactions and that leads to improvements in illness but not in disease."

I had never thought about healing that way. It makes sense though - the third category is what most of us are in, as allied health professionals.
I hope we are all there for each other that way.

5. At last, this: The Difference Between Fixing and Healing, the transcript of an interview with Rachel Naomi Remen, a medical doctor and author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather's Blessings. She discusses how important the stories are - it's through the stories that people can find their way. Find their way out of pain (Peter O'Sullivan and Joletta Belton). Find their way across chasms (Monica Noij). Find their way to understanding something complex and abstract (Julie Tudor).
Her own story is that her mystical grandfather, a rabbi, told her a creation story when she was four years old. It was (roughly paraphrased) about how the light of the world broke up into many pieces, how humans are here to put the light back together, how each human has a little bit of that original light to bring to the effort. When she was 15 she was diagnosed with Chrohn's Disease, and her mother reminded her of the story her grandfather had told her when she was a little girl. It strengthened her. She went on to become a medical doctor, which is a chasm of its own kind, and now she walks (my take on this) with one foot on each side of that chasm, being both a medical doctor and a "healer"- counselor of gravely ill patients - on the other. Plus a fabulous writer. She acknowledges the operative side of medicine and does a great job or highlighting the interactive side. Of the chasm.
Really, not to diminish anyone's journey across their own chasm, because it will always feel huge and insurmountable, but the size of the chasm she has successfully navigated with so many gifts to bring makes me feel like the one I crossed a few decades back (then had to find language to describe) was more the size of a scratch with a twig in the sand at the beach.


...................................

REFERENCES

1. Mark Kargela's interview with Peter O'Sullivan and Joletta Belton (2018)
2. What is the operator model? What is the interactor model? (2011)
3. 
Ownership and agency in a predictive brain, implications for manual therapy (2017)
4. Peter O'Sullivan San Diego Pain Summit 2017 blogpost (2017)
5. Monica Noij's blogpost on crossing the chasm (2018)
6. Julie Tudor's essay on the biopsychosocial model (2018)
7. Harriet Hall's book review of James Alcock's book on belief (2018)
8. The interview transcript with Rachel Naomi Remen (2018)

FOOTNOTE

(*I am thinking about giving up traveling too - maybe just for a year, maybe longer - it really grinds down one's gears, physiologically. It gets to the point where it takes so long to recover from the traveling that one's entire life becomes scheduling recovery time between workshops, and feeling quite out of it for days. That is no way to waste one's physiological capital let along build upon whatever one managed to glean by way of being stimulated in a new context. Just no way to consolidate any thoughts or themes - too much recovering to do, too tiring. Sucks away whatever tiny shred of creativity one may possess.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Ongaro and Kaptchuk 2.1



This blogpost deals with the first reference in the introduction of the paper I'm currently reading and absorbing (Ongaro, Giulio, Kaptchuk, Ted J., 2018, Symptom perception, placebo effects, and the Bayesian brain. PAIN, Aug 6, 2018. (To read the full paper, click on "Article as pdf").

The references are cited in the last sentence of the intro:

"It expands on recent high-quality empirical work on predictive processing (1,7,19,24) and outlines, more broadly, how Bayesian models offer an altogether different picture of how the brain perceives symptoms and relief."

The first reference is 
Anchisi D, Zanon MA. Bayesian perspective on sensory and cognitive integration in pain perception and placebo analgesia. PLoS One 2015. First, the authors
Davide Anchisi and Marco Zanon are both in Italy. Italy is a hotbed of placebo research (Fabrizio Benedetti* is in Italy as well). Both authors are at Department of Medical and Biological Sciences, Università degli Studi di Udine, Udine, Italy, according to PubMed, although Zanon may be in Bologna now.
Here is a 
list of publications by Anchisi;  Anchisi is an MD and PhD.Here is a list of publications by Zanon;  Zanon is a post-doc research fellow with the psychology department. 



Excerpts 

1. "How can an inert treatment cause a response?"
This is the first sentence. Good question. My follow-up question is, who decided that any given treatment was "inert"? What were their criteria? They certainly left out a lot of info or maybe their info was incomplete. Right? An awake alert human brain is always going to respond to context of said treatment, so nothing can ever truly be "inert." But I digress.  


2. "... living organisms and their perceptive systems deal with uncertainty and face transposed conditional probability problems: they have to infer the features of activating stimuli (related to the state of the world) from nervous signals elicited by those stimuli, and come to a reliable perception (i.e., make an effective decision) in spite of the noisy and incomplete information that sensory signals provide about the world."
Yup, that's pretty much what the nervous system is doing from the moment it switches itself on as an embryo to the day it dies.


3. ".. experimental and theoretical work showed that perception is a multisensory task and support the hypothesis that, in perception, different pieces of information are near optimally combined in a Bayesian way."
Note to self: learn whatever I can grok about "Bayesian." This link states: 


"Bayesian statistics is a system for describing epistemological uncertainty using the mathematical language of probability. In the 'Bayesian paradigm,' degrees of belief in states of nature are specified; these are non-negative, and the total belief in all states of nature is fixed to be one. Bayesian statistical methods start with existing 'prior' beliefs, and update these using data to give 'posterior' beliefs, which may be used as the basis for inferential decisions."
Apparently there was a guy in 1763, Thomas Bayes, who came up with this.  

4. "
In this study we focused on the placebo effect because it is one of the best examples of experimentally controllable modulation of pain experience, and has been extensively investigated in recent decades." OK...

5. "Our aim was to develop a Bayesian framework which could describe and explain pain perception and its modulation....As we argue here, the nociceptive signals are not the only source of information used to compute the inference: past experience and cognitive information also play a role."
As Melzack's Neuromatrix framework states.

6. "
A total of 55 healthy human volunteers (mean age ± s.d.: 21.40 ± 1.03; 29 females) were recruited by advertising at the University of Udine (Italy) and randomly divided into two groups: Experiment 1 (n = 24); and Experiment 2 (n = 31)." And then they "conditioned" the subjects (gave a bunch of twentyish-year-olds the opportunity to organize their expectations), and applied TENS.

7. "
The main findings of this study concern not only the placebo effect but a wider range of effects also due to past experience." I wonder what results would look like if the subjects were in their 60's or 70's? Just a thought.

8. "
The Bayesian decision model we developed comprises three key elements: the prior probability, which conveys previous experiences and expectancy (e.g. through information derived from the context); the likelihood function, which implements the sensory inputs and also information from multiple sources (whether sensory, cognitive or psychological); and the decision process, which eventually determines if and to what extent pain is perceived."

9. "
The model we developed shows how the placebo effect results from the evaluation and integration of nociceptive stimuli with context information, and how the relevance of the context (through expectation/conditioning) comes, at least in part, from past experience. The process of information integration would be at the very base of pain perception, and would lead to the placebo effect and to other phenomena such as those predicted by the fBD model.

Overall, our findings support the hypothesis that pain perception can be described according to the rules of Bayesian probabilistic reasoning."

.....................................................................................
Ongaro and Kaptchuk 1: Intro 
Ongaro and Kaptchuk 2: Intro

*I spent a great deal of time with Benedetti's book, The Patient's Brain, read it cover to cover, made lots of notes; I also had the pleasure of hearing him speak about his work at the San Diego Pain Summit in 2016.

























Monday, October 15, 2018

Ongaro and Kaptchuk 2: Introduction

See Ongaro, Giulio, Kaptchuk, Ted J., 2018, Symptom perception, placebo effects, and the Bayesian brain. PAIN, Aug 6, 2018. (To read the full paper, click on "Article as pdf") This is all the introduction.


What I like about it (so far) and the predictive processing model for looking at the brain is that it treats the brain as a verb, not a noun.

First line of the introduction:

"The standard and ideal biomedical model of symptom perception treats the brain largely as a passive stimulus-driven organ."

Yup, that's the Cartesian way of looking at another human being.
Lest we forget, "being" is a verb. Or at least a gerund.

Second sentence:

"It embraces the notion that the brain absorbs sensory signals from the body and converts them, directly, into conscious experience."

It may do that before it has any experience to also draw on, e.g., within the first few months of life..

Third sentence:

"Accordingly, biomedicine operates under the assumption that symptoms are the direct consequences of physiological dysfunction and improvement is the direct consequence of the restoration of bodily function."

Yup, very convenient. Also useful. Has been successful to a large extent.
Also very Cartesian. Easy to blame the patient if their particular "pain" doesn't fit into the model, i.e., "the patient must be crazy"

Fourth sentence:

"Despite its success, the biomedical model has failed to provide an adequate account of 2 well-demonstrated phenomena in medicine: (1) the experience of symptoms without pathophysiological disruption, and (2) the experience of relief after the administration of placebo treatments."

Yup. E.g., (1) phantom limb pain, and (2) resolving it by stabbing a screwdriver into the artificial limb (one of the stories in Painful Yarns by Lorimer Moseley).

Fifth sentence:

"This topical review advances the idea that “predictive processing,” a Bayesian approach to perception that is rapidly taking hold in neuroscience, significantly helps accommodating these 2 phenomena."

At last!!

Sixth sentence:

"It expands on recent high-quality empirical work on predictive processing (1,7,19,24) and outlines, more broadly, how Bayesian models offer an altogether different picture of how the brain perceives symptoms and relief."

Ah yes... inevitably, there is always going to be a ton of side reading to do. Not that I mind side reading when motivated! I see we will have to go to blogposts 2.1 - 2.4.

7. Büchel C, Geuter S, Sprenger C, Eippert F. Placebo analgesia: a predictive coding perspective. Neuron 2014;81:1223–39.
19. Grahl A, Onat S, Büchel C.The periaqueductal gray and Bayesian integration in placebo analgesia. Elife 2018;7:e32930.
24. Kaptchuk TJ. Open-label placebos: reflections on a research agenda. Perspect Biol Med 2018;61:311–34.

.......................... Other blogposts in this series








Ongaro and Kaptchuk 1

I am currently reading this paper: Symptom perception, placebo effects, and the Bayesian brain - so juicy. I stumbled upon a blogpost by Tim Cocks at Noijam that mentioned it.

I have decided to give it a "full treatment" - a full, line-by-line treatment. This is because I would love to understand Bayesian thinking better, I'm a beginner, pain has always been a way into understanding life in a body better, and this paper promises to do all that.
Plus, on Facebook, there are two bright minds who want to debate the paper.

As usual, this blog will be my private (well, probably not private, but I can pretend it is) workspace - a place for me to work on my own thinking about it, reflect on the conversation as it unfolds on Facebook, ruminating, pondering, storing all the links and analyzing WhatItAllMeans, to me.

As usual, I will be looking at all of it from the perspective of a manual therapist and neuromatrician who works with peoples' nervous systems directly to help them overcome pain problems.

This is the first of many blogposts I will write about this paper as I try to grok all of it.

Background
I had a moment of clarity yesterday (few of these moments, so it felt sharp!)
I sent out a thought.
Here is the thought I had:

"Here's a thought (spurred by a conversation with Hsieh Hsing Wu *):  
1. Kinesthesia is to proprioception as pain is to nociception.
2. Pain is awareness of (danger signaling perceived as if coming from) the body, top-down. Nociception is sensory input, bottom-up.  
3.Kinesthesia is awareness of (movement of) the body, top-down. Proprioception is sensory input, bottom-up.  
4. It is not appropriate to mix up any of these."

I based it (and will base subsequent thoughts) on these items, which clarified many things for me:
1. Anil Seth's TedTalk on predictive processing: Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality
2. Anil Seth's TedTalk, truncated.
3. A wonderful article in New Scientist that I refer to endlessly:  
Understanding Body Ownership and Agency. 

Proprioception is likely more about ownership, whereas kinesthesia is more about agency.
Manual therapy is something I now regard as "exafference" (from the Liepelt and Brooks article) an environmental influence on the system) that creates compelling enough perturbation that the system can change its own predictions. 

........................
References
1. Ongaro, Giulio, Kaptchuk, Ted J., 2018, Symptom perception, placebo effects, and the Bayesian brain. PAIN, Aug 6, 2018. (To read the full paper, click on "Article as pdf")

2. Cocks. T, 2018, The ‘Bayesian brain’ for beginners, by way of placebo. Noijam blogpost Oct 9, 2018

3. 
Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality Ted Talk, Anil Seth, video, 17 minutes, April 2017


4. Your Brain Hallucinates to Create Your Reality. Ted Talk, Anil Seth, truncated to 3 minutes, June 4, 2018, TED Facebook

5. Roman Liepelt, Jack Brooks, 2017,  Understanding Body Ownership and Agency.  New Scientist May 1, 2017


*Hsieh Hsing Wu is a physio in Taiwan who I met 14, 15 years ago in online forums. He lived in Australia at the time I met him. He attended my DNM class in Taipei this past May, and is interested in becoming a DNM workshop instructor there.

Friday, October 12, 2018

So many papers and other good stuff lately!


I lack motivation, which is why I haven't been blogging much this past year. But I do notice many things as I drift by them in my mental inner tube, and just now, I decided I had enough energy to list the sort of stuff I see daily - an avalanche of great stuff, semi-organized.


In the peripheral nervous system:


1. Concept of acute neuropathic pain. The role of nervi nervorum in the distinction between acute nociceptive and neuropathic pain.  This one comes from Brazil, 2016. It eluded me until now, possibly because it had not been translated into English before, but is now. Really interesting, everything you ever wanted to know about nociceptive neurons in the periphery. Well, a lot at least.
And how they can be bothered on the inside of nerves.
My whole manual therapy worldview rests on this idea - that if nociceptive neurons inside nerves get riled up for any reason, e.g., mechanical deformation of the nerve OR the vessels that feed and drain it, the nerve itself will get plenty cranky, sensitize, and make a signal large enough to eventually overcome normal descending inhibition, whereupon the spinal cord will obligingly amplify said signal, compounding it with central sensitization through several mechanisms.

2. 
Entrapment of middle cluneal nerves as an unknown cause of low back pain. The author is Japanese - Yoichi Aota. My Japanese colleagues have met him in person. 

In the central nervous system:

1. Thalamus: 
A long-overlooked brain region may be key to complex thought
This one is not about pain per se, but about how the thalamus's job is much more than just relay. 


2. Cerebellum: The Cerebellum, Autism, and How The Human Brain Gets Organized - New Research.    This is a half-hour video with Peggy Mason and Aaron Freeman at U Chicago, who shed all sorts of light on this structure and its contribution to developing brains.

3. Pain as maladaptive plasticity, by DevraJoy Sheldon. I had the pleasure of meeting Dera Joy at the last San Diego Pain Summit. What a great blogpost!
Excerpt:

"Moseley et al 2009 noted that when individuals with CRPS crossed their upper extremities, the unaffected extremity became cooler than the involved limb. It wasn’t the limb, but the hemispace that was relevant. This is very much like a stroke with hemispatial neglect (an inattention to the environment on the involved side.) And what do we do with individuals who experience neglect, even extreme forms of it including anosognosia (denying the limb is theirs)? We help them attend to the limb and environment. We involve the limb in care and therapy. We apply stimulus to the limb to help the brain “tune in” to it and we encourage attention to the hemispace in which the limb resides. We do this to drive neuroplastic change."


She's right, that's exactly what we do.

4. The autonomic system: 
Professionalism-Autonomic Disorders: David S. Goldstein, MD, PhD He Could Have Been a Cartoonist. He Became an Expert in Autonomic Disorders Instead. Sounds like this may be the researcher to whom we owe a debt for elucidating dysautonomias. Note to self: look up all his work!

5. 
The ‘Bayesian brain’ for beginners, by way of placebo. A super good paper is linked into this blogpost.  Here it is: Symptom perception, placebo effects, and the Bayesian brain. Click on "Article as pdf" to get full text.

Studying the two together:

Skin nonlinearities and their effect on user perception for rotational skin stretch. This is REALLY exciting for me - someone has built a skin twizzler machine.  Now maybe someone can design a (really GOOD) research project to study DNM! 



Studying the therapeutic relationship:

A framework for establishing connections in physiotherapy practice. This new paper is by Maxi Miciak et al in Alberta. (* Don't miss her at the next San Diego Pain Summit where she'll be a speaker alongside Damasio!) I love how she geeks out the various components of therapeuttic relationship into an actual diagram.

Remember, for accessing beyond a paywall, scihub is our friend. 

Shin and Yoshi





In September I had visitors from Japan, two nice young men, one of whom translated my book into Japanese and the other who is a physio - together they plan to start teaching DNM in Japan and maybe elsewhere too - I couldn't be more relieved to hear that. It will save wear and tear on me to not have to travel so much, and at some point, I'll be able to just stop. 


Shin Iwayoshi, the translator and massage therapist, and I in front of a fountain in front of the courthouse in the small prairie city I live in. 




Yoshiro Morimoto, the physio, and I. 

Exciting times. 






Thursday, August 09, 2018

About CKS (crabby knee syndrome)

I have a story about my right knee.

Picture the following scenario: I am a 67 year-old, overweight, under-fit female, in a foreign city (Barcelona), in the ladies room of a teaching venue. The 3 stalls are little rooms, with complete privacy, ordinary doors, not the kind we are used to here which are just partitions. I quite like this foreign version of toilet privacy, but it's a bit off topic so I'll head back to the point: when you gotta go you gotta go.
I use one of the little rooms, and completely forget that the little room is up a step that is about 4 inches high. I presume the plumbing had to be accommodated or something, but before I wander off topic yet again, let me just say I didn't notice myself stepping up to go into the stall (jet-lagged probably), and my brain did not account for the height-of-floor-difference coming back out again.

Long story short, I made a predictive motor error. Or at least my brain did. I thought the floor was all one height, and when it suddenly wasn't, I landed pretty hard when finally the floor came up to meet my descending foot. My foot that descended surprisingly farther than anticipated. With all my considerable overweight jolting down an extra 4 inches to stop more abruptly with a lot more gravitational force than I had expected. Four inches in which apparently a lot of acceleration can occur, within mere nanoseconds.

I didn't fall over or anything.. I carried on.
The knee felt weird though. Not right. Like it wasn't quite me. Stiff and unnatural. Like there wasn't any room for "me" in it. Like a mechanical thing more than an alive thing. The interoception felt cloudy, and the proprioception seemed to be missing. My brain didn't trust it anymore.  It didn't really hurt at first, but I could feel machinery running in the background of my awareness as though my brain was trying to figure out where it had gone wrong. And the knee acted slow and stiff. But I hobbled around for the next 5 days, teaching, sightseeing on foot (slowly). The best thing to do with stuff like this is ignore symptoms and keep moving, right? Treat whatever it is as though it were normal, make normal demands on it, don't baby it, just keep going. And that is exactly what I did.

Pain set in during the long flight home, but I just kept going. I had to go to Taiwan, then Winnipeg. Then Minnesota, just last week. Four months have elapsed since the bathroom floor predictive error encounter.
It has been variable, with entire days pretty much nociception free, but it would wake me up at night, pain shooting through my knee. I would have to wake up fully to change position. I did not let this worry me. I would just go back to sleep, easily enough.
Some days it really hurt, so I would baby it with some stretchy tape and keep on going.
It was always worse after sitting for a long time.
Like on airplanes.
And a number of different people helped me by treating it, which always made it feel better, for a little while at least. 


It did not slow me down at all, really, except when descending stairs. Then I knew I still had a knee pain problem. I live on the fourth floor. Three flights of stairs. About 60 steps in total. Going up was easier than coming down. Yes, there is an elevator. Yes, I took it, but I tried to make myself do stairs as much as I usually do, which is about half the time going up, and all the time going down. So, I worked it under load.

.........

The backstory: I had a terrible time getting paid for the work I did in Barcelona.
Finally, after a lot of back and forth and several attempts (according to the party that had hired me) to wire the payment through, I got paid through good old Paypal, at my suggestion.
I was in Minnesota when the money from Barcelona finally came through; I emptied the Paypal wallet into my account, mentally heaved a sigh of relief that that particular psychosocial worrisome bothersome irritation was over with, crossed off my list of things to be dealt with.

......

Here's the weird part, the gist of this whole story, the juice in the blogpost: Almost immediately with the experience of relief of this formerly noxious situation, I felt a reduction in pain, like someone flushed a toilet in there, and "me" gushing back into my own knee, able to "re-inhabit" it physically, much much better. Such a peculiar feeling.
Slept through the entire night that night, didn't wake up once.
So.
Cool.
The psychosocial aspect of pain perception.

....

I'm back home now, and 8 or 9 days later, I can feel my knee getting better with each day. (FINALLY!)(After 4 months!)
I can do stairs normally now, descending straight down without needing to have a hand on the handrail. I even noticed, today, I led with my left leg! Unconsciously! I could not do that for the entire 4 months the right knee was being a pain. There are still little twinges in it, but I can fully flex it now, just as far as the other knee, and the twinges feel a lot more superficial, medial knee, saphenous nerve, not throughout the entire joint as though it were made entirely of wood and discomfort. Now it's time to work on squatting.

So much more space inside it for "me."
I love endogenous opioids, so much. Especially when they hit at the precise representations in the various somatosensory cortices where they've been dried up for however long an accompanying situation has been grinding along, unresolved. Another neurotag bites the dust! 





Monday, August 06, 2018

DNM 2.0

Totally exhausted, but in a good way, after being in Minneapolis for a week attending a 6-day long seminar that Jason conceptualized and organized, such that all the people out there in the world who are explaining their manual approaches using the stretchy framework of dermoneuromodulating could have a chance to build a new community.

DNM has stretched from standing for dermo, neuro, modulating, to also include everything from "deconstructing/demolishing nonsensical methodologies," to "deep 'n meaningful."

Too many highlights to list everything from every topic or every person, but overall:

1.  I appreciated the inclusion and emphasis on cognition and psychosocial aspects, like Robert Rex's inclusion of narrative medicine, and Erik Ouellet's emphasis on cognitive biases and perceptual fantasies/illusions.


2. I absolutely loved the examination and treatment directed toward cranial nerves, by Julie Porter and Jeff Rockwell. This was a bio part I've been missing all my life, and I think, a missing part for most of us probably. We have plans to bring together a new book, written by Julie and Jeff, with some art provided by me. It will be a separate book for now. (Maybe later, as in someday in the far distant future, a new inclusive edition of the original DNM book will emerge in which EVERY nerve will be included, and the head and body will finally be reunited in manual therapy examination and deployment. But that will have to be a long way away. Meanwhile Julie and Jeff deserve the first round of royalties from all their hard work placing all these cranial and superficial nerves into DNM context, so a separate book will come first.)

3. Brian Rutledge, a Feldenkrais practitioner, spoke for about 10 minutes in a very metacognitive fashion about how he sees cognitive/bio integration.

4. Jason Erikson always thinks in a way that is social first, psycho next, and bio eventually. He spoke about how to integrate change in culture as manual therapists, the manual therapy culture that currently exists, promoted the idea of joining organizations that improve social acceptability of our work, make it more visible. Some of the participants were moved to speak about social inclusion/exclusion, their experiences of having personally felt the impact of discrimination, how they deal or have dealt with it. The feelings were big and traveled through the room, as they usually do when the topic is about the experience of personal injury or harm. I had several thoughts initiated by this, outlined further along in this blogpost.

5. One event stands out in particular: One of the participants had a longstanding inability to flex forward to touch her toes. In fact she couldn't reach much past her knees. Julie asked her to hum while flexing, and she did. Suddenly, while humming, she reached way past her knees all the way to the floor.
It was stunning.
Julie did a little victory dance, and the participant was astonished. Having successfully reached the floor while humming, she did it several more times to make sure it wasn't a one-off, that she would be able to repeat it from then on.
It was the most fabulous example of a distraction technique I have ever seen.
The participant "believed" she could not forward flex her trunk in a standing position. Her brain was kept busy by humming (novel input and output) while bending. Her predictive motor control was interfered with. Her belief that she couldn't flex her back was disconfirmed. Her next job was to integrate all the new information and realize she had successfully crossed a chasm of sorts, a chasm that had existed only inside her own competing neurotags.

6. Such wonderful partying. This is what my own social life consists of, mostly, as I am generally a hermit where I currently live, and because I'm a big-time introvert it suits me just fine these days. But I do love me a good round of being with other people, in a suitable context, where there is deeper meaning and purpose, enjoying rounds. :)

7. It really did feel as though Jason created a context within which DNM is about to go to the next level. I couldn't be more content about that.

..........

I love that DNM is a stretchy enough conceptual container that just about every form of manual therapy (but only the interactive kinds, not the coercive kinds) can find a home in it. It is essentially about:
1. embracing human primate social grooming at its most fundamental, i.e., be kind, purposeful, slow, responsive, intelligent, with physical touch;
2. incorporating widespread biopsychosocial principles which boil down to listening first and talking after (minimally, without nocebo);
3. deliberately dis-including all conceptualizing about any tissue but skin and or nerve;
4. promoting nervous system awareness and handling.

I sit back and think, wow, here we are/here manual therapy is, at the bottom of society's ladder, really, without a lot of respect or acknowledgement for our efforts, which in the end doesn't really matter anyway, because human primate social grooming doesn't require much more nod to society other than a basic license to touch people and it sort of returns the favour. Yet, YET, here we are in all our multiple professional designations, called to them for whatever reason, trying to figure ourselves out and fit in somehow, the non-pharmaceutical, non-surgical alternatives to helping people with pain problems. We are in a similar clinical boat as the psychologists that way, except that we also have the advantage of being licensed to touch people.

All people.
Every person who asks.
This is a huge advantage.

We get to cherry-pick and be as evidence-informed as we could possibly want to be because we know how to read, think, and use scihub to look up all the latest information and scientific literature. We get to freely make up new conjecture, simultaneously weeding out anything ridiculous because now we know we can't just make shit up - we have to be from the start at least scientifically plausible and, if not completely bias-free, at least bias-reduced, because we know about fallacies and all the cognitive biases that exist and can appreciate how science itself is in a similar boat, and that science exists to prune back airy assumptions. We can trust it, and trust ourselves to be better off than we were before we were science-literate. We can deploy science-based consideration of every idea that pops into our head, and weed out all the mutually exclusive ones. We can be Occam's Razor all we want. We can place our work on a platform that is more solid, therefore.
We still get to be as jazzy as we like - but we aren't on crumbling ground conceptually or perceptually anymore.
And pain science and neuroscience are proving to be our best way forward into the future.

Just think: this might be the freest least-confining and simultaneously most challenging field of endeavor any human could possibly choose: we each have a human brain to use - the human brain, thought of as the most complex object in the known universe.
And what do we do with ourselves? We access and work with human brains all day long.
Is that not awesome? The most complex objects in the known universe taking on the most complex objects in the known universe as our daily work.

And here we are, asking those people inside those brains to change their pain perceptions by providing them with a bit of novel stimulus, getting them to disconfirm their beliefs about their pain by a little or a lot.

Picking back up on the thread of the inclusivity of DNM, as I sat back and observed a bit of acknowledged social pain ricocheting round the room for a little while, I reflected on how much stretchier I have become in my own life - in the past I might have squirmed and judged. Some thoughts that might have arisen may have been along the lines of, wait a minute, I'm not here for this - what does this have with learning how to use my hands - this is taking up too much oxygen and is not the focus we should be having - that guy does not know how to keep the room contained, etc.
I might have become impatient and annoyed and blamey.
I watched myself watching and listening and was pleased to note I felt or thought none of those things whatsoever, and instead just waited for the tension to conclude on its own, which of course it did.
I had some political thoughts too.
As a Canadian watching people interacting so close to the bone in an American context close-up, I marveled at how in Canada this would probably never happen. I extrapolated on that thought, comparing the US to all the other more hidebound countries - basically, all the other countries - where tradition dictates everything and freedom to invent new ways to be human don't really exist, although we love to pretend we're just as hip as US people who are constantly inventing new language and new things like internet and new music.
It occurred to me that after the US dumped the monarchy it built a pressure cooker for its citizens, politically, and although it is probably hard to live in it, it has innovated very cool stuff. Furthermore, without all the huge effort people in the US make in terms of social interaction, there would be no social progress anywhere else in the world, or there might be but it would be a lot slower to evolve. For example, as a queer woman (and I have my own definition of that, but totally identify with queerness in general and consider myself part of the queer community) I wouldn't likely have enjoyed my life as much as I have, so far, or come to know myself as well as I've managed to, and in Canada I would never have had access to anything social outside my white-bread rural upbringing and the rather conservative social conditions that accompany it (of which I am acutely aware, having gone back to live in it again, at least for now, but could never succumb to ever again).
So, thank you US people for all the discomfort you endure, having the courage to be vulnerable, speak your truth even though it takes a lot of nerve to do so, living in your social pressure cooker of a country, raising the boiling point so the cognitive and social interaction food can cook faster and be more delicious for everyone including all those who see it then duplicate it (social progress for all formerly dis-included people or groups) in our own respective, probably slower-moving, slow-cooking countries. 
And I sincerely hope that you will manage to deal with the orange menace appropriately when your time comes to vote.