Book Review

I finally had the time to finish my read of Dr. Morningstar’s book, “Scoliosis and ARC3D Therapy:  Restoring Hope with Non-Surgical Treatment”.  As I have state numerous times before, both my children and I are patients of Dr. Morningstar – we started visiting him soon after my daughter was diagnosed about 4 years ago.  I have had much success with his ARC 3D therapy with my spine, but it’s harder to tell with the children because there are so many other factors influencing their Scoliosis.  My daughter’s Scoliosis has not gotten better, but there are many “what-ifs” to that scenario – could her curves gotten better if we treated them sooner? (I would say most definitely “yes”)  Could the ARC3D treatments be one of the reasons we’ve been able to hold off on surgery for so long?  I think so, but would have no way to know the answer to that with any certainty.  But, regardless of our success with Dr. Morningstar’s therapy, I will say that he does the best job of any practitioner I’ve worked with of being unbiased and respectful of the wide range of choices regarding Scoliosis treatment – even surgical intervention.  He hates the idea of surgery (as much as I do), but knows that it can be a necessary procedure for some patients (like my daughter).  He doesn’t condemn us for that decision or claim that we didn’t “work hard enough”.  He does his best given his brilliant tools and resources and respects his patients.

But, this article is about his book.  His book, available on Amazon.com, does a great job of giving the reader a “Scoliosis 101” from a non-traditional perspective.  The first few chapters give a great overview of what Scoliosis is, some potential causes, and treatments that are available.  I loved Chapter 5, which gave a technical, yet basic, explanation of different measurements and assessments for patients with Scoliosis.  Cobb Angle was only 1 of several he talks about!  Then, he launches more into the details of his very sophisticated ARC3D system.  The system incorporates principles from many different arenas, including the Pettibon System.  He then talks about his invention, The Tornado Suit, as well as vitamin deficiency issues that some Scoliosis patients may face.  Finally, he includes some studies.  There are also many footnotes and references to studies in the text, which I hope to read more of, in detail, at a later time.    The book is a nice blend of medical jargon and technical explanations, paired with information geared toward the Scoliosis patient and their families (and not necessarily Doctors, although they would benefit a great deal from the book as well).  If you are curious as to what the therapy is all about and you would also like a nice synopsis of non-surgical treatments, I would highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book.

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Just what do you know anyway?

I started thinking the other day that someone new to my blog may not notice the roughly 110 posts over 3 years and may see that my daughter has a whopping 72 degree curve and think to themselves, “What does she know anyway?  We better not take her advice.”  Or, someone may read that my daughter went from a 35 degree curve to a 67 degree curve in the course of one year while wearing the Spinecor brace and think bad thoughts about the Spinecor brace.  Therefore, I thought it might be beneficial to touch on some of the treatments we’ve been through, and what works and what we can learn from each.

Approach #1 – wait and see.  When my daughter was first diagnosed, the Doctor said “let’s wait 6 months and see where the curve goes”.  She was 7 and had an 18 degree curve.  I was uninformed.  I never should have consented.  Wait and See is NOT a valid approach, especially if the patient is very young (and has much growing and, consequently, curving to do).  I REPEAT: DO NOT WAIT AND SEE.  Do NOT wait.  ACT.

Approach #2 – Spinecor.  It is true that my daughter’s curve doubled while spending a year in the Spinecor brace.  But, that does not mean that her curve wouldn’t have plummeted anyway or that the Spinecor doesn’t work for many people that contact me every day.  I will say that the Spinecor is not comfortable at first (which I know how to remedy), but there are many people who get relief from pain and a reduction in curvature from it.  Two things to watch for with the Spinecor:  1.  start sooner rather than later (we went in it when my daughter’s curve was already in the early 30 degrees – chances are always better when started earlier.  2.  The downward force of the strap on the shoulder can create issues and potentially increase curves in the neck region, so keep an eye on that.  If the neck starts to curve,  it may not be the best choice in the long run.

Approach #3: The Pettibon/ARC 3D system.  This is just one of the methods we implement in our battle against Scoliosis.  We’ve done it for almost the entire time my daughter has had Scoliosis (after our dreaded “wait and see” debacle)  I’ve already blogged about how this therapy has changed the shape of my spine for the better, so I firmly believe it works.  It may be one of the contributing factors to keeping the curve at bay for so long, but we won’t know because it is just one of the therapies we’ve tried.  Again, earlier start is better.

Approach #4:  Rigo-Cheneau brace.  I think this is the best, most aggressive, “big guns” brace you can get.  The problem is that we put my daughter in it WAY TOO LATE….she was at 67 degrees.  It would have been better, if determined to try the Spinecor, to pick a cut-off point (say, 30-35 degrees) and, if the curves are not improving, move on to the Cheneau.  With my son, we went straight into a Cheneau at 25 degrees, and now he’s about 10 degrees after 24 hours out-of-brace.  So, yes, I think it works very well.  Again: EARLY INTERVENTION IS KEY.

Number one lesson learned:  ACT EARLY!  DO NOT WAIT AND SEE!

If Mama Ain’t Healthy…

We’ve all heard the phrase, “If Mama Ain’t happy, Ain’t nobody happy” (yes, shudder at the grammar), but this week I am also remembering how “If Mama Ain’t Healthy…the Family Ain’t Healthy”.  I guess after talking nonstop about my kids’ health, it’s only fair to share a bit about myself.  I’ve been blessed with relatively good health, but have always had one ailment or another since I was a kid.  First it was the heart (starting at age 10) – arrhythmia and tachycardia.  I was on meds for that for a long time, but weaned off in college and was able to stay relatively symptom free.  Later on in life, like with most women of child bearing age, I entered into the crazy hormone roller coaster, starting with Thyroid disease that would leave my hormonal levels in a constant state of flux.  I started seeing Dr. Strauchman, at the Natural Wellness and Pain Relief Centers of Michigan (Dr. Morningstar’s beautiful wife, as a matter of fact!).  She is an absolute sleuth when it comes to finding and correcting (naturally and safely) all types of ailments – but she is a Master Ninja, it seems, when it comes to hormones.  I started seeing her soon after we started seeing her husband for Scoliosis care.  Within a few months, she had me off of chemical-laden, off-the-shelf one-size-fits-all, thyroid meds and onto natural solutions, made just for me.  Then, she found out the cause of my migraines (big score!). I was feeling great.

However, after a few years of being relatively stable, my hormonal roller-coaster is on the fritz again.  Thankfully, answers were one visit (and many tests!) away, with a visit to Dr. Strauchman.  On top of my hormonal coaster, she also tackled the stomach problems I’ve been having for a while (sometimes leaving me in debilitating pain!) (By the way, I did see my family physician after being hospitalized with stomach pain, but not given solutions that worked or diagnosed with an actual reason for the pain)  A few weeks ago I found out the results.  Let’s just say that I wasn’t imagining things – things were out of whack in my hormonal system and GI tract (I will spare you the gruesome details).  The good news is that Dr. Strauchman had a litany of natural, safe, and gentle strategies for getting me back on the road to great health.

I will say, though, that I balked slightly at the major time (and very major monetary) expense of such a treatment plan.  I have no question in my mind that her treatments will work, as they have worked for me over and over again.  But, they are not cheap.  Or easy.  *sigh*  How can I justify such time and expense on myself, while I am facing major surgery for my child within the next year?  But, then I realized that the question is really:  How can I not?  I have that year of time to get myself in ship shape order, because when my daughter goes into surgery and recovery, I will need every ounce of strength – both emotionally and physically – that I can muster.  I will be grateful, looking back, that I took the time and money and effort to get myself in the best working condition possible so that I can better care for the ones in my life – so that they may be more healthy.  I need to take the time to exercise (which I usually do…unless someone needs me…or something comes up….)  I need to eat like MY LIFE DEPENDS ON IT.  Because, it really does.  Dr. Strauchman is a big believer in how much our diet can effect our health.  But, let’s face it – eating clean, fresh, and (sometimes) organic, AIN’T cheap!  Or easy!   But, it is very, very important.

This is the time of year that I also face the anniversary of my Mother’s death.  She died so suddenly and so young (at 47) with no reason or apparent cause.  She tried to eat right and exercise, but I know deep down she had a lot of the same afflictions that I face.  Yet, she was working so hard and caring for others so much and she never really found that medical professional that could give her the super sleuthing that she needed.  Was the accumulation of these factors what caused her death?  It’s hard to say.  But, it certainly didn’t make it any easier on her body.  So, I realize, that I need to take every precaution I can so that I can be the best for my family.  Everyone always says this. (Yes, we all know the reference to putting the mask on yourself first on the airplane before putting one on your child).  But, few Moms really believe it and practice it.  I pray that I can be selfish – just enough – to make myself as healthy as possible so that I am ready.  For anything.