Donations For the Cause

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Healing protocol: Natures help for trauma and injury

      So, as stated in my previous post I am on a mission (a man on a mission…a Muppet man…anybody?) recover and return to greatness following a holistic pathway.  Did I just call myself great? I did….going on. My main recovery faces two main challenges:  Anesthesia which was administered to place my body in a medically induced coma for a few hours and can stay in the body for up to three weeks and makes you really F…ing tired…even after a double espresso. And number two is the 12” incision, which runs vertically from my belly button to sternum. Separating the facial tissue in the abdomen and limiting any core strength.  While quite painful, I have decided to forego the doctor recommended Vicatin dose of 200mg every 4/6 hours, as it dulls the senses and slows healing. Yes, the pain is there and constant, however I’d rather feel connected with my body and be able to sense changes as they come about…and…I’m clearly a badass (Rhhhhaaaahhhhh!!!!!)  Truth be told I am in a good deal of pain, but it’s not acute (i.e. no stabbing/ shooting…just dull)! A note about inflammation…….Remember that inflammation is not always a bad thing. In fact, inflammation is your body's way of bringing blood and nutrients to the area that needs healing. Conventional doctors tend to take the view that all inflammation is bad, but that's an outmoded, limited view of the body's adaptive response to trauma.
      Anytime the body goes through trauma there are a few things, which can help you recover faster. Sleep, Good food, and the mind are my top three. So…we all know I eat well and I’ve never had to work hard for a good nights sleep so I thought I would discuss a list of supplements which I will be using over the next six weeks to move things along.  At the end of the day I really feel food is the best medicine.  And, while a few of my supplements are in this category, these unorthodox conditions require me to look outside the box. Here we go…

      Vitamin C is a cheap simple no-brainer.  Any kind of trauma, including surgery, can deplete your vitamin C stores. After surgery, blood levels of vitamin C drop rapidly and a vitamin C deficiency makes wounds heal slower. Many studies have shown that vitamin C is essential for the body to produce wound-healing collagen, which provides the basic structure for many tissues, including skin, bone and blood vessels. Of course the source matters and I will be pulling a majority of my C from the royal Camu…(cough) a real food. J Also known as Royal Camu or CAMU-CAMU… this berry has more Vitamin C than any other known botanical. The highest quality camu-camu contains 30 to 60 times more Vitamin C than an orange, plus bioflavanoids, and a combination of phytonutrients unique to the camu-camu fruit.  It also contains the amino acids, serine, valine, and leucine, as well as small amounts of thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. I will be shooting for around 3 to 5 grams a day and plan to build up slowly, as took much vitamin C can cause bowl issues…(liquid pooping). For more on Camu-Camu…google it. J amazon usually has it for a decent prince. Just kidding…here is a link:

Sun Chlorella:  (Also a food) Japanese studies have found Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF) to be especially effective in speeding up cell growth, a major factor in the natural repair of wounds.  A natural algae, this product is the oceans answer to wheat grass…. (packed full of Chlorophyll).  Various other studies reveal CGF helps heal ulcers and promote bone and muscle growth. When taken internally, it also acts as an immune-booster. Topically, it functions as a protective cleansing compound for skin.  I also think this will be helpful in cleaning out any remaining painkillers or system depressants used during surgery.  This Powerful algae is know for it’s cleansing properties and ability to pull toxins out of the bodies fat where they can lay hidden in for years.
       I have taken this product on and off for a long time …I was happy to see it placed in IRON MAN 2. Anybody remember Tony Stark constantly drinking the green liquid to stop the poisoning of his body from heavy metals leeching from the ARC reactor???….not so off the mark. Studies at the School of Medicine, West Virginia University, demonstrated that chlorella has the potential to help remove poisoning of chlorinated hydrocarbons (a major toxic pollutant found in pesticides and herbicides), dioxin, and PCB’s.  In other studies, chlorella was equally effective in eliminating heavy metals such as mercury, and cadmium.

Zinc: Best taken prior to surgery, zinc reduces wound healing time, rapidly reduces wound size, and bolsters immune function to help ward off infection.  Clinical studies have cut healing times in half with 220 to 300 mg of Zinc a day. Just be sure to beef up on your other trace minerals as it can inhibit copper and magnesium stores.
-Whey Chocolate Isolate or Sun Warrior Protein: Surgery places great metabolic stress on the body. A post-surgical patient requires more protein than a normal person because of the increased metabolic activity of wound healing and stress induced acute phase protein production. In addition, extra protein is required to repair injured muscle tissue and replace the skeletal muscle tissue that is being catabolised for strengthening the immune system and supporting vital organ function. Post-surgical patients tend to exhibit accelerated protein turnover and synthesis, but the increased rates seem to be inadequate to support required amino acid levels. Both these proteins have a full amino acid profile and digest quite well in my body. Also mixed with an array of green veggies and fruit and you can get almost 40 meals out of one bag for a fraction of the price of eating out. A true concern when you’re not able to work.

BCAA with Glutamine: This combo is a two-fold punch. Again when the body is in a state of stress or repair it needs help. When your body goes through a surgical procedure it’s not so different from having a really INTENSE MUSCLE TEARING WORKOUT…TIMES 100. Your body is in a constant state of repair over the next month or more, so it stands to reason your bodily system will be looking for building blocks to help fix the damage. Enter BCAA and glutamine. From numerous studies it is clear that BCAA's have a significant role in increasing overall conditioning factors such as aerobic and anaerobic capacities, by improving physiological markers such as: red blood cell count, hemoglobin, hematocrit, serum albumin, fasting glucose levels, a decrease in creatine phophokinase, increased glycogenesis, and even rapid alleviation of muscle inflammation.
I opted for the glutamine combo because it is the major nutrient used to repair intestional damage…and since mine was cut up like a holiday snowflake, 

I figured that was good idea.  It is also not uncommon for hospitals to throw some in your I.V. post surgery… least they are getting that right.* p.s. this is also a pre-digested food……

Custom Probiotics: There is only one brand I role with when it comes to intestinal health. The best by bacterial count and price Whenever you have surgery this is probably the highest rated supplement to consider taking after opening up the insides.  I am a health nut…and if there were one product I would not do without it’s this one. Their CP-1 formula weighs in at a whopping 70 billion per bacteria strain per pill!!!!!! Try and find anything close to that in a store or for their price!  (Can. not do. It. J) A 2009 review of clinical studies published in "Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery" found that the use of probiotics significantly reduced cases of bacterial infection in patients who had undergone high-risk surgical procedures. This news is particularly significant in light of the difficulty hospitals face in dealing with dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. In 2009, the "European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology" concluded that the postoperative use of probiotics might decrease post-surgical death rates, shorten hospital stays and reduce the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

So there you have it.  Today I feel ok. I've graduated to tape instead of staples..:-) It’s been a hell of a week for my ego…. negotiating how you get up off the couch or navigate down a subway platform as opposed to attending a tap audition for a Broadway show or teaching someone how to swing a kettle bell.  But such is my present situation and such is life. I am committed to be present and enjoying this unique place where I am.  We are only here for this moment.  Embrace it. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A weekend in the E.R.......

“Here I go again on my own, going down the only road I’ve ever know…..Here I go again” in my current situation, this song rocks a great background track for my hospital video.   It’s just not finished yet… I’m writing…..(wha wha) So here we go….long story really, really short….but still kinda long….
       Wednesday was a busy morning: rehearsal for a symphony concert, a client at mid city, my own training day…….intestinal obstruction?  (Keep reading). Apparently 15 minutes after an amazing lunch, I would soon be feeling like someone placed a screw driver into my upper abdomen and twisted it….driving a steel rod into the back plate of my shoulder. Instantly I could not stand, I could not walk upright and I was shallow breathing. Scared as I was at this moment, I stumbled my way home on the A train and crawled into bed. Buckled over in pain I waited and waited for this scenario to cease and the tension to ease. It did not. The tension was never eased. Sadly.
       In the morning I knew the E.R. was a strong possibility, and with the help of my roommate Katrina, I was dropped off there and walked quite well at the time right in the front doors. Triage took me to the inner-workings of the hospital to find no rooms available…just a bed in a hallway.  Three hours later, I saw a doctor. Clutching my stomach I assured him what was wrong: “I had a Reto-Paritenial Lymph Node Dissection to treat advanced testicular cancer 5 years ago. I know my intestine has scar tissue, it’s twisted …..I need an I.V. to re-hydrate and I will be fine. This HAS happened before.  In 8 hours….and you can send me home.”  Well, I was half right. The doctor agreed with my diagnosis and I was plugged with an I.V. containing saline drip, given some Zofran for nausea and Toradol  for pain. I started to feel better instantly……I was walking, calling friends, I told a joke, I flirted with a cute E.R nurse…. I was on the road to recovery!  I even had some great friends visit…Leo Ash Evens and Leah Landow.  Both saints, they agreed to see me through till I got a room. (This is where it got hairy…..I mean Italian uncle wolfman back hair hairy!)
       Once I was done with my I.V. fluids I began to get sick….Really sick.   I started vomiting. The vomiting turned to shaking convulsions and cold sweats where I could not even stand. I could not lie down. It was like being caught in a mouse trap, with the clamp fixed tight on my belly.  There was no place I could find comfort or relief from this pain. I felt retarded in front of both my friends as I can only imagine what I looked like getting up and down, rocking, puking and moaning…(dramatic?)  The doctors ordered an NG tube down my nose into my stomach which would drain excess bile and stomach fluid to stop the upset stomach. This process included having a half inch tube snaked down my throat (while I am already violently sick) through a hand full of lidocaine jelly pre-inserted into my nasal cavity. (So basically pure Disney fun.)  IV pushes of Morphine, Toradol, zofran….nothing could keep up with the pain.
       In the morning, after no real sleep, I awoke to at least a bearable sense of calm functionality. A team of doctors came in for their morning rounds…..they looked at me…I felt ok……they believed that additional fluids and a few days may do the trick and I would get better. They and I were wrong. Within ten minutes of everyone walking out of the room I was sidelined again with an even higher level extreme pain. This time I decided it was appropriate to scream and snort. That’s all I could do to remain sane. My friend Leah and roommate Kat arrived to find me in a much deteriorated state and tried to do what they could….held my hand, placed damp washcloths over my face, foot rubs (yes, they are that cool)…yet nothing was helping.  I waited for what seemed like an eternity for stronger medicine. Finally a nurse came in with one shot of Dilaudid  ( a powerful opiate drug), then two, then three….. at it’s best…… only calming me for 15 minutes.
       As I waited for my body to simply right itself, a surgeon walked into my room. His words: “Frederick, you should not be in this much pain for a simple twist of the intestine, we are taking you to the O.R. we are going to open you up and do an exploratory surgery so we can find the blockage, take it out and get this pain level down.  I also must tell you the risks with this type of surgery; we may take out a little, we may take out A LOT….but we need to do what we have to, to fix this situation. There is a risk of bleeding, infection, and you may wake up with a temporary colostomy bag   (great for dance calls)….please sign here.” I waited two beats and signed….scary as it was I was in too much pain to do anything else. I also knew if my intestine ruptured I would be in much bigger trouble than what I was presently faced with.
       Summing it all up: The surgery could not have gone better. I had a band of scar tissue from my prior surgery which had cut off all blood flow to the lower intestine. The amazing DR. Simone went in with a camera…saw the problem…reopened an old incision on my stomach and took out a foot of dead intestine…..sewed it back up (well stapled) and placed me on the road to recovery. How did I know she was amazing? On our meeting in pre-op I asked her to rate herself out of 100. She said 120. I was sold.

       Fun Facts from the doctor: You never would have had 5 years of good health without the diet and lifestyle you live.  This could have been worse and you could have had much more scar tissue developed than you do. J
       I had for the second time in my life the amazing support of the theater community and friends. I had true friends waiting for me when I awoke from the O.R.  I had both parents drive from their perspective homes to be by my side at the end of my surgery. I had my mom sleeping beside me as my advocate for better care and own personal nurse. I had some of the very best people in the world visit me while I looked like death…way up on 168th street. I had made a majority of these decisions for myself, concerning health care, on my own. And all this, even though dealing with sickness, felt very empowering.
       In conclusion: It’s always funny to me how people will write and say, “Oh, I’m so sorry”…or “I wish this hadn’t happened to you.”    I view this health issue as any other growing experience and would not trade it for the world. I know this will unfold as nothing less than a gift.   This happened “FOR” me not “TO” me.  And for anyone to deny me that growth is a disservice.  The universe…(lol deep) is unfolding exactly as it should and while I don’t have a why for you at this moment, I know I will in the coming months and years…exactly as I did with my experience with cancer.  I learned a great deal about myself. I learned another level of pain I could endure. I learned again the value of good family and friends. And in the coming months I will learn the value of patience and what it means to GO slow.
                             ( Day Two out of the Hospital....17 staples......what i like to call a cat scratch )

To all those who called, facebooked, stopped by, and sent me good vibes and said prayers over the past week.  Thank you.  I am here for a reason, I think that is clear. Thank you for your love. Life is short. Make a choice and be bold.

 Be bold, be bold, and everywhere be bold.
-Herbert Spencer