One of the real gifts of going through a kidney transplant, aside from the obvious, was being told that healing would take time.
No one expected that I would feel fine right away. They told me that I would have medical appointments and blood work each week for a month and physical therapy twice a week.
After that initial month, PT would end and appointments would be every other week, then monthly.
Because I was given this information, I was able to have reasonable expectations while I was going through the healing process.
I could plan on taking time off from my practice to heal. When I felt like crap, I could tell myself that in a week or two, I would feel better.
Having time was a real luxury. It’s one that I encourage you to lean into if you are struggling with illness, pain or distress.
But how to do this in a 24/7 fast-paced world with all kinds of obligations?
Here are my recommendations:
-Make realistic expectations about the amount of time it will take to recover
Begin by letting go of the need to recover immediately. Talk to your healthcare providers for some guidance. If no one knows the timeframe, begin by giving yourself a few weeks if you’ve suffered a minor injury and a few months for something more severe.
-Get curious about what’s actually going on in your body
It’s helpful to take stock. Write down a list of what symptoms are bothering you. If you’re more of a visual creative type, make a drawing of the areas where you feel pain.
-Spend time each day engaged in something that leads towards your health
Many injuries and bugs heal on their own. Initially, rest may be what your body needs most. Give yourself time for that. If you’re still not feeling better, there is a good chance that you’ll need to do something – contact a nurse or doctor, reach out to a complementary practitioner, do some gentle stretches, make some changes to your diet.
In addition to these practical steps, it’s important to be in the right mindset. Set aside 5 minutes every day to imagine yourself feeling better. Before my transplant surgery, every time I was exercising on my bicycle trainer, I would imagine doing this post transplant. (I felt so great when that actually happened!) The brain and nervous system want you to befriend them. They function better when you give them care and support.
-Add comfort to your life.
Do something that brings you joy. Listen to a favorite song. Light a candle. Take a warm bath. It’s important to have moments where you feel good even in the midst of illness.
-Prioritize your obligations.
While your recovering, there will be many things that will go by the wayside. It’s important to choose what you absolutely need to do and what you can put aside for when you’re feeling better. When you consciously do this, you’ll feel more in control and less overwhelmed.
-Track your progress
Your body is always giving you information. Pay attention to what it is telling you. The easiest way to do this is to write down what you are experiencing. In my practice, I offer a booklet that I call “Roadmap to Health,” which contains monthly and weekly calendars. It’s helpful to have something that tells you your progress in a glance. Here’s a link to my booklet. Your favorite journal will also work.
Feel free to share with me a time that you recovered from an illness or injury. And if you are still struggling, know that you can reach out.
With you on the journey…
Sometimes our lives need a little reset. I realized the importance of this when I took a day trip to Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. I left my house a bit frazzled. I was in a hurry and had just enough gas in the car to make it most of the way to Lenox.
Fortunately, after a pit stop in Lee, I arrived.
Once I got there, my whole frame of mind shifted. I parked the car, put my phone in a locker and had a full day to do whatever I wanted to with no responsibilities. I took a dance yoga class, went on a mindfulness kayak ride and had a delicious lunch and dinner.
The weather was beautiful and for that day life was easy and effortless. I truly felt cared for.
When we’re busy and stressed out, it may seem counterintuitive to slow down. With so much to do, we tend to hurry and check off one more thing on our to-do list.
But slowing down really helps us focus on what is most important. It helps us gain clarity. It resets our nervous system. We can then face our lives with more wisdom and grace.
It’s summer and the world feels a little slower. I encourage you to take time off –several days or a week if you can. But even a day or an hour in a different setting can offer the benefits of rest and relaxation.
That’s one of the reasons that acupuncture and craniosacral therapy can be so helpful. They give the body and mind time to relax, reset and rejuvenate.
If you’re feeling like you could use some TLC, take a moment to schedule a free consultation or an acupuncture or craniosacral therapy appointment.
It could be the first step to a life of more ease.
With you on the journey…
I recently watched the movie "Air," the story behind Air Jordans and was drawn to the line "A shoe is always just a shoe until someone steps in it."
Our bodies are like that. For the most part, we share the same organs, muscles, tendons and body parts. These tend to work in similar ways. Our hearts beat, our lungs fill with air, our stomach and intestines digest food. We all have this in common.
But the container that we live in is just that, a container. A group of living organs. I've been exploring for most of my life what it means to step into this container. What does it mean to become embodied?
As I’ve explored this, I’ve found that listening to what my body is saying is an incredibly powerful thing. Stretching my spine every morning has gotten rid feelings of neuropathy in my legs. Strengthening the muscles in my legs has meant no more knee pain. Lifting weights at home has kept my bones strong. Eating foods that have a high nutritional content and taste good, has meant a healthier GI tract.
Working with patients, I find that the same thing is true. As they gain an awareness of how to stand and move properly, their pain is reduced and their lives are filled with more ease. When they eat healthier, things like brain fog and acid reflux go away.
This isn’t about rocket science, rather it’s small, steady changes that over time allow us to be more embodied, more conscious of our experience in our physical being.
I continue to help people have this experience of living healthier by offering Japanese Acupuncture, Craniosacral Therapy and Wellness Counseling.
If you are interested in improving your health, here are 2 ways to get started.
Here’s to your good health and happiness!
This is a follow-up to last week's blog. Here’s why something as simple as walking outdoors for 20 minutes each morning can radically improve your health.
If you’ve tried to start walking or exercising and haven’t been able to continue with a steady practice there are some tricks to keep you motivated. Take a look at my blog, "Creating One New Habit." .
If you aren’t able to walk because it causes pain, consider scheduling a free ½ hour consultation with me. We can talk about ways that treatments can help reduce inflammation, lower pain levels and get you more relaxed and on track to achieve your treatment goals.
Know that I’m here to support and guide you on your journey to health!
Sending healing energy…
As we approach the new year, I’m reminded of something I learned 30 years ago when I was struggling with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and I began a lifelong journey towards health. There is always a path forward. It’s not an instant cure or a guarantee of life without pain. Instead, it’s way to find more ease, more joy, less discomfort.
At times, this is hard to believe. Life can throw us curve balls and it may seem difficult to find light in times of darkness.
What’s true is that light is always there.
When I was in acupuncture school, I was taught that, in ancient times, the herbs a person needed would grow just outside their home. I believe that this teaching remains relevant. The things we need to heal are close by – in the food we eat, the exercises we do, in the quieting of the mind, in the restorative power of sleep, and in the arms of the people we love.
Life gets busy, stressful, and often we forget our own miraculous ability to heal. I’m in my 60s now. My body is less forgiving than it once was. Yet when I listen to it, I’m constantly finding ways of renewed health.
You can too!
My work has always focused on small, sustainable changes that lead to improved health and well-being.
Here are my top 8 suggestions for 2022 to live a life filled with health & happiness, all of which are low-cost and readily available.
1) Eat more vegetables.
The easiest way to incorporate this suggestion is to add a serving of vegetables to your diet every day. Choose something that is not part of your current diet. I recommend adding a vegetable to your midday meal. Soup, roasted vegetables, and stir-fries are all good choices.
See my food blog for recipes.
2) Take a walk.
This is one of the easiest forms of exercise. Remember to wear a good pair of sneakers or hiking boots. Walking offers the benefit of movement along with an opportunity to experience the healing powers of the outdoors.
Here are some places in Western Massachusetts.
3) Buy a buckwheat pillow.
I recommend this to my patients who experience neck pain. A buckwheat pillow conforms to the shape of your neck and offers support. No more waking up with a stiff neck!
Here are recommendations for what to buy.
4) Get some extra fiber.
We should be getting a least 30-50 grams of fiber a day. Fiber is found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits & vegetables. Even when we eat these foods, we often don’t get a s much fiber as we need.
Add a tablespoon of this prebiotic fiber to your diet.
5) Relax your muscles more.
I don’t love the term stretch. Stretching is thought of a something that we tack on to our exercise routines. I think of strength training and aerobic exercises as activities that contract and strengthen muscles. Muscles that are constantly in a contracted state end up causing pain and discomfort. Muscles need time to relax. Think of stretching as having a conversation with the tight parts of your body. Breathing in to restricted areas and allowing them to relax creates a life filled with more ease. My personal favorite way to do this is with a Pilates on the Ball workout.
Pilates on the Ball DVD
Pilates on the Ball Book & DVD
6) Cut back or eliminate processed foods, sugar, diary, caffeine and alcohol.
Processed foods are devoid of the nutrients that our body needs to function optimally. Sugar creates inflammation in the body. Diary can cause overproduction of phlegm. Studies show that caffeine offers some health benefits as it is rich in anti-oxidants, but I see many patients who are revved up from coffee and have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. Alcohol turns to sugar in the body and heavy drinking is associated with increased risk of death.
While there isn’t a one-sized-fits-all recommendation for intake of these foods, most people are better off either eliminating them or making sure they’re used occasionally and consciously.
I absolutely believe that we should enjoy the food we eat and not feel like we’re depriving ourselves. There are so many healthy, nutritious meals.
Take a look at my Yummy, Healthy Food Blog
7) Start a meditation practice.
This requires no special knowledge or equipment. You just slow down, go inside and sit with what is. Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that each of the 5 main organs has a corresponding positive and negative emotion and when these emotions are in balance this leads to better health.
Listen to my 5 element 5 organ meditation and find this balance.
8) Practice gratitude.
The more you count your blessings, the more blessings you will find to count. Our nervous systems are wired to look for danger, which is a survival mechanism. But trust me, most of the time immediate danger doesn’t exist. When we retrain ourselves to look for beauty, joy and appreciate the good things in our life, we have the ability to experience a paradigm shift. The world can become a safe and forgiving place.
Here’s one way to begin a gratitude practice.
One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that the path forward is not a solitary one. We humans are wired to need connection with each other. None of us live in isolation.
If you find yourself struggling, reach out to a trusted friend or family member. You might be surprised to learn that they are going through something similar to you. Shared pain is pain halved.
If you’re looking for additional support, I offer free ½ hour consultations to new patients or those who haven’t seen me in a while.
Simply, schedule one here: https://www.bonniediamond.com/free-consultation.html
Remember, we’re all in this grand experiment we call life together.
Sending blessings for the holiday season and the new year!
Last week when I was treating a patient, she asked this question, “So how does acupuncture work?” It’s a question that I had asked as a student at the New England School of Acupuncture.
The truth is that we don’t actually know how acupuncture works from a Western medical perspective. East Asian medicine has a model that is vastly different from science, which focuses on separating the different parts of the body and has an emphasis on cause and effect.
Acupuncture looks at the body as a whole and focuses more on the relationship of a part to it’s whole.
Western Medicine is more absolute, Eastern Asian medicine more relative. Because these models are so different, it’s difficult to explain one in terms of the other.
That said, we do have some clues about how acupuncture works from a Western medical perspective.
All of this is exciting news because it offers confirmation of what I find when treating patients. Pain decreases, the body goes into relaxed states, colds & flus last for shorter amounts of time.
Interested, intrigued by how this works and how it might help you?
I’m offering free 30 minute consultations. Sign-up here.
With you in health,
Every year I think about what advice to share as we complete another turn around the sun. What can I write that will bring you more health, more joy and more ease?
There are so many possibilities – eat better, sleep more, find quiet time for meditation. These are all good things, but I realized the magic missing ingredient in so many wellness and self-care programs is found in the act of taking stock.
It’s not enough to set goals. We need to watch what happens when we put an idea out into the world. We need to track our progress and record our thoughts and feelings each day.
I got this inspiration sitting at my desk, looking at my 2020 yearly planner. It’s the place where I keep track of things. Not my daily schedule filled with patient appointments, places to go and commitments to keep. These are stored electronically with a kind of efficiency only the digital world can provide.
In my paper planner, I write down goals and dreams, along with notes marking unexpected pleasures and themes for the month. I use the planner as a journal of sorts, briefly recording my thoughts and feelings on a somewhat regular basis.
As I turn the pages, I’m able to look back and reflect.
I might not have remembered any of this if I hadn’t jotted down notes as the year went by. I barely remember what I had for lunch yesterday :). So now I have this incredible gift – pages filled with remembrances, a record of days gone by.
As the new year begins, I recommend that you begin (or continue) to take stock. Here’s how:
At this moment, there is the initial pleasure found in the blank pages of the yearly planner that have not yet been filled. It’s still an empty slate awaiting possibility. You don’t yet know what the year will bring. (2020 taught us the role of the unexpected.)
You stand at this moment, closing one door and about to open another. This is the time to dream, to imagine, to ask for the wishes that live deep in your heart.
Your yearly planner allows for this. The empty pages are waiting to be filled with the moments & reflections that make up your life. Write these down. Take stock. Be the creator of your life’s journey.
As we enter 2021, I send you blessings to guide you along the way.
Ps. If this process sounds appealing, but you don’t have time to get a planner of your own, here's my Roadmap to Health Booklet/Calendar/Journal for you to print out.
And if you feel like you need help in the process of creating healthy habits for a healthy year, do get in touch to find out about my Roadmap to Health Wellness Counseling program.
I look at my calendar and realize that Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. How is this possible?
I see that I've added the word Cleveland from Tuesday, November 24th to Saturday, November 28th on my calendar. In a moment of optimism, my husband and I thought that we would be able to drive to visit his family in Ohio. We would all get tested, wear masks and social distance.
But a few weeks ago, we realized that keeping everyone safe from the spread of Covid was more important than gathering together.
I feel a little unanchored. Thanksgiving for Dan and I has always been a time to travel. We either visit out-of-town relatives or indulge in one of our favorite things, a long weekend away from it all. Some years it has been on the quiet beaches of the Cape. Other times we've explored the back roads of Vermont. In the 16 years that we've been together, we have never spent Thanksgiving at home.
This year we will.
Are you starting to think about how to celebrate the holiday? Have you canceled your usual plans, or will you take precautions and gather together?
Either way the holiday will be different.
In 2020, our lives have been upended. It will take our creative spirits to make this year's Thanksgiving a meaningful one.
Here are my suggestions:
1) Start to plan.
3) Remember that we're starting the holiday season. That gives us the opportunity to have small celebrations, small joys through New Years.
4) Take a look at the blog, A Holistic Approach to the Holidays, that I send out each year.
5) It is a season of gift giving. I'm offering these holiday packages so that you can give the gift of health to someone you love.
Most of all, remember that you're going to get through this. Be a little kinder to yourself and those around you. We're all feeling the specific challenge of a very unusual time. My holiday blog talks about the gift of imperfection. This is an imperfect year.
Strive on. Find joy. Be well.
People often think that there is just one type of acupuncture. They are surprised to find out that Japanese acupuncture is a unique style that can elevate your sense of wellness and well-being.
Acupuncture originated in China over 3,000 years ago and in acupuncture school, we begin by studying the theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Both styles use the same theory of the five-element organ system -- kidney/water, liver/wood, heart/fire, spleen/earth, and lungs/metal. Both methods also use the same acupuncture points along the same energetic pathways or meridians. However, the way we practice is slightly different.
This is because before the 6th century Buddhist Monks brought acupuncture to Japan. Over time, acupuncture became one of the few career paths for people who were blind. It may seem a little unusual to think of blind people inserting needles, but let me explain.
When people can't see, their other senses become more enhanced. Blind acupuncturists became extremely skilled at feeling the pulse and areas of restriction in the body. Fortunately, they were able to pass this knowledge onto current day acupuncturists, including me. This kinesthetic sense helps Japanese acupuncturists treat more gently.
A few major Japanese acupuncture benefits include:
They say that Chinese acupuncturists treat from the brain and Japanese acupuncturists treat from the belly. Chinese practitioners come up with a diagnosis and a set of points. Japanese practitioners feel the body and use points that release restrictions while the patient is on the table, looking for reduction in pain and changes in the pulse as we treat.
If you have tried Chinese Acupuncture and felt it wasn't quite right for you, you might want to get in touch with me to find out how Japanese Acupuncture can help you.
About 80% of adults experience back pain at some point in their lives, and I've had a lot of experience treating it in the 20 years that I've been practicing acupuncture. I've always been curious about what contributes to the pain. Is it a pulled muscle or ligament, a weak immune system, osteoarthritis, a bulging disc, tight muscles or some combination of these? Read more about this.
Over the past few years, I've been studying a manual therapy called Visceral Manipulation that offers an additional explanation for pain and restriction. Jean-Pierre Barral, a French Osteopath, teaches that restrictions in the connective tissue around and between the body's organs cause pain, particularly chronic pain that is difficult to treat.
Releasing these restrictions can be done by first feeling the actual pull of tissue in the body, testing to see which organ is causing the primary restriction and then gently treating the organ to restore its natural rhythm.
My work has always been based on releasing restrictions. Now in addition to feeling blockages in the acupuncture meridians, restrictions and pain in the muscles, bones and ligaments, I've been looking for restrictions in tissue around each organ. Also, I've been making sure each organ has its own intrinsic healthy rhythm.
It's been an amazing journey for me and has enhanced the work that I do. It's another component of helping my patients can get lasting pain relief and a body that truly functions at an optimal level.
In practice for over 20 years, Bonnie Diamond offers individualized, heart-centered care using a pain-free, Japanese style of acupuncture. Her work is influenced by her nine year struggle with and complete recovery from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.