I Salute the Mechanics of Medicine

More Leangains posts coming very soon; much, much more. In the meantime, I have a quick post that calls close to home.

Many know that in addition to my path, many in my family have also improved their standing in life, including my dad. He's lost much weight, feels -- or felt -- great and has been moving along. But I guess he got a bit exuberant about working out and without a trainer to guide him at 72, managed to rupture a disc or two in his lower back, the effect of which has been that over the last several weeks he's had excruciating pain in one of his legs -- nothing wrong with the leg; it's pressure on the nerve in the spine.

At first they tried physical therapy, but that was only minimally successful and not lasting. In the end, they had to cut.

I give the medical community so much shit around here for their whoring over the pharmaceutical and processed food industries that I felt it only fair to haul off an at-attention Salut! for their mechanical prowess.

Surgeons are Gods

Yesterday my dad was at the hospital at 6am, and was back home in the middle of the afternoon sporting a 2-inch incision in his lower back, and pain free. Fucking amazing. I was with him last night, we watched San Francisco lose -- shit dammit! -- and generally had a good time and I knew he's going to be A-OK. He's very strong (I made him eat bananas and potatoes prior to surgery) and we can see this now, as merely a minor setback. He's off the pain meds and that's smart because he needs to feel pain, now, so he doesn't undo any of the excellent work done yesterday.

As I told him: think of yourself as a pristine 40s or 50s classic car, restored with a beautiful new paint job. Now, don't scratch it.

Here's a clip of Alec Baldwin in Malice, long my touchstone for exactly what this post is about.

So there you have it.

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Comments

  1. No doubt. For all my ranting about the inadequacies of western medicine when it comes to nutrition, health, disease, etc. in a physical/mechanical emergency, there is no place I would rather be than in a western hospital. While the gap has narrowed dramatically, they are still among the finest technicians in the world.

    • You nailed it there, Michael. Med School is a technical vocation college. Memorizing procedures and anatomy is not science. My wife’s family is full of doctors and most of them think they are indeed Alec Baldwin’s alter ego. My sister-in-law told me my paleo diet will destroy my kidneys. All those ketones or something. Czech doctors spout the same party line as US docs and are just as arrogant about their ignorance. That being said, the fact that getting a bionic hip is commonplace nowadays is pretty amazing. And when the docs get it right, like Kurt Harris or the Eades, they are super-ninjas.

  2. Yes. Don’t trust them with a lot of stuff but all praise to the surgeon who replaced a disc in my neck a few years ago. Still acts up from time to time (it’s in a highly mobile location) but NOTHING compared to what led up to the operation.

    • I herniated the disk between C4 and C5 a few years back. I can’t imagine the day-to-day hell I’d be living had there not been medical doctors to treat me.

  3. I watch Alec tearing naysayers and shitworths in scenes like this and the sales meeting in Glengarry Glenn Ross – and then the state he is in today, and it makes me weep.

  4. You know Rip. I almost blogged about that just recently havinig to do with his sponsoring of a PETA fucking event and I was going to use those EXACT examples — I still might. Glengarry Glenn Ross is fucking classic.

    “Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-AXTx4PcKI

    • It was seeing his name in that post which made me mourn what was.

      I wished, he would go up to make a speech at this Feta event, and then channel Blake upon them all.

      “Vegan? I don’t give a shit. Animal lover? Fuck you; go home play with your puppies! Oh…do I got your attention now?”

  5. “Just as religion has pre-empted the field of ethics, turning morality against man, so it has usurped the highest moral concepts of our language, placing them outside this earth and beyond man’s reach. “Exaltation” is usually taken to mean an emotional state evoked by contemplating the supernatural. “Worship” means the emotional experience of loyalty and dedication to something higher than man. “Reverence” means the emotion of a sacred respect, to be experienced on one’s knees. “Sacred” means superior to and not-to-be-touched-by any concerns of man or of this earth. Etc.

    But such concepts do name actual emotions, even though no supernatural dimension exists; and these emotions are experienced as uplifting or ennobling, without the self-abasement required by religious definitions. What, then, is their source or referent in reality? It is the entire emotional realm of man’s dedication to a moral ideal. Yet apart from the man-degrading aspects introduced by religion, that emotional realm is left unidentified, without concepts, words or recognition.

    It is this highest level of man’s emotions that has to be redeemed from the murk of mysticism and redirected at its proper object: man.”

    – Ayn Rand

    • Hey, Grant:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQorzOS-F6w

      Hitchslap. Secular moral indignation at its finest.

      • First, Conventional medicine is usually the best way to go for acute medical problems (heart attack, asthma attack) but for chronic conditions (arthritis, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis..) nutritional methods are the best. I hope your father recovers and heals perfectly. Second, regarding this type of surgery: you should look into something called ‘reconstructive therapy’. I know of two M.D.s who do this in NY but I don’t know anything about California. This is something that can be done after or instead of (in most cases though, not instead of, only in some cases) after surgery. It is basically injections of certain nutritionals into the affected area (usually the back). This optimizes the healing and rebuilding of the relevant tissues; this is mostly accomplished through the increase in bloodflow, and thus natural repair mechanisms to the damaged area. All the best.

      • Oh, and if you do this, then make sure it is done by an M.D.

    • You might find Stefan Molyneux of Freedomain Radio’s work interesting.

      I’ll say that I disagree with him about the necessity of a state. He wants to do away with it entirely. I see the value in a functioning criminal justice system and — even more crucially — an effective national defense.

      Ayn Rand thought these two things (plus courts to enforce contracts) constituted the essential functions of a good state if I remember rightly. Molyneux does not. Yet as far as really good insightful psychological observations and passionate defenses of individual freedom and the pursuit of happiness goes, Molyneux can’t be beat.

      If you stay with this one, I think it’ll pay big rewards for you:

      “Putting Off Procrastination”

      A couple more:

      “In Praise of Failure”

      “Death by Perfectionism”

      His videos on Happiness are also worth checking out. If you watch only one, I’d watch his video on Procrastination, which is at heart an ode to personal mental freedom.

      • I must in good conscience now say that a deeper study has lead me to profoundly disagree with the thrust of Stefan Molyneux’s work.

        And not merely because he is an anarchist (believes in a complete elimination of the state) and I consider that to be Utopian.

        Molyneux appears to believe in a process called “defooing”, a term originally coined by his wife, whose critical influence on his work Molyneux has largely excised from his site. “FOO” is “Family Of Origin”. Defooing is walking away from your family of origin without even giving them any chance to talk it over.

        It’s a lot more involved than that. And I’m not saying all families are gold. Unfortunately, we all know some parents are abusive.

        But Stefan Molyneux seems to cast the vast majority of parents as abusive and — through a process of argumentation or indoctrination (take your pick) — eventually encourages his supporters to permanently sever themselves from their parents, not to mention many former friends (those that refuse to give up religion or statism, i.e., almost everyone), etc.

        When I think about the closeness of Richard Nikoley’s relationship with Lute Nikoley, his father, I see the folly in this line of action if too broadly applied. I believe Molyneux follows it too broadly and, surprise, surprise, he and his group are there to provide emotional support to those who give up their families. Donations gratefully accepted.

        My review may seem a bit harsh. I’m sure there is a counterargument. Certainly I don’t think there is anything wrong with providing value and asking for voluntary donations. I agree with many of Molyneux’s ideas on personal liberty, the idea that we own our own lives.

        It is the thrust of Molyneux’s work I am leery of. Certainly, in a very small minority of cases, his approach could be the right one. I think this now estranged father has a point. A second perspective on Molyneux’s work is here and there is much more information on either site.

        In particular, I rescind the part above where I said, “Yet as far as really good insightful psychological observations … Molyneux can’t be beat.”

        Caveat emptor. And as Richard said above, be wary of others’ schemes. In the end, do your own thinking.

        That is all I have to say about it.

      • I previously cited his work and got some emails about this.

        I’m kind of ambivalent. I tend to just take stuff at face value and most of what Ive seen from him is pretty good. I’m not trying to save the world or protect it, or anything.

      • I don’t know much about the particulars of how Stefan works everything out. Overall he seems pretty good to me. I never expect anyone to nail it 100%, including me.

        At any rate these days I tend to stay away from the minutiae. That is why I said previously that nobody knows how freedom will actually work out in real life. I like to cite some historical examples not only because it lays to bed the idea of utopianism (which I don’t think is properly understood anyway) but also because they are all different, yet all voluntaryist societies.

        But I resist the idea that in order to have a free society there must be at its center (courts, law enforcement, and military) institutions that are fundamentally unfree, socialistic, monopolistic, and coercive to maintain such a society. The cognitive dissonance is too much for for me.

      • What is everyone was an anarchist in his own mind?

        And while I’m at it: what if they held an election and nobody showed up?

      • Sounds good to me!

    • You might find Stefan Molyneux of Freedomain Radio’s work interesting.

      I’ll say that I disagree with him about the necessity of a state. He wants to do away with it entirely. I see the value in a functioning criminal justice system and — even more crucially — an effective national defense.

      Ayn Rand thought these two things (plus courts to enforce contracts) constituted the essential functions of a good state if I remember rightly. Molyneux does not. Yet as far as really good insightful psychological observations and passionate defenses of individual freedom and the pursuit of happiness goes, Molyneux can’t be beat.

      If you stay with this one, I think it’ll pay big rewards for you:

      “Putting Off Procrastination”

      • I always belly laugh at anyone’s prescriptions, statist, commie or anarchist.

        What part of leave me the fuck out of all of your schemes is so difficult to understand.?

        Anarchism is a state of mind.

      • Well, to start with I thought I was replying to Grant.

        And I was recommending Molyneux’s specific videos on procrastination, failure, perfectionism, and happiness, which most directly related to states of mind.

        I also mentioned above that I disagreed with his “scheme”.

        So I’m not sure I understand your critique of my comment.

      • Christoph, we’re cool, man.

        And I get it.

        It’s just I’m moody and resigned about virtually everything politics. That’s why I quit paying attention a few years ago – and yes, the libs and anarchists too.

        M goal is simply to live my life for my own sake, help those I love & like, and try not to sweat the details too much.

        Peace, and be well.

      • …Especially the quotidian bullshit details, I should add

      • I’m just glad uncle Lute is gonna be ok.

      • Thanks!

        And I hope your dad gets well soon. Doctors are indeed kick ass when it comes to trauma care. And I’ve got personal experience with that as well.

        Go surgeons.

      • And what I meant is… I’m glad your dad is already pretty much well.

    • A couple more:

      “In Praise of Failure”

      “Death by Perfectionism”

      His videos on Happiness are also worth checking out. If you watch only one, I’d watch his video on Procrastination, which is at heart an ode to personal mental freedom.

  6. Deadlifts by any chance?

    I highly recommend against them, based on my experience (and subsequent reading).

    Productive, sure, up until that one crappy rep.

    • Wish you well, Christoph, but yours is not my experience and I will hit 500 on deadlifts.

      Undaughted.

      • Of course. They work for many people. Good luck.

        For those that are deciding one way or the other whether to incorporate deadlifts and barbell squats into their routines, I’d remind them of the principle of “first do no harm”.

        That said, many people like yourself have had good results from those exercises.

        Here is a podcast covering, among other things, deadlifts and squats I listened to after my negative experience with deadlifts. It contains some insights from strength trainer John Barban who considers those movements “high risk, medium reward”.

        And I certainly don’t mean this as criticism of you, Richard, for doing them. I just feel a moral obligation to pipe up and say that they didn’t do me any good so I think people should consider carefully before making the decision for themselves. And if there decision is “Go”, hopefully they’ll seek out expert instruction to learn the correct technique.

      • OK, gotcha

        Yea, Christoph makes a good point about what I’ll term exuberance.

        I’ve had a fair bit of that myself, while always wanting to stay in te gym, so I only “go crazy” when I think it’s justified, and that is rare. Usually, I never try for more than 5% more than previous best.

      • Here is a podcast covering, among other things, deadlifts and squats I listened to after my negative experience with deadlifts. It contains some insights from strength trainer John Barban who considers those movements “high risk, medium reward”.

        Haha! I gave up deadlifts awhile ago because of the risk/reward ratio, but squats? Squats to me are like guns. If you ever hear that I have given up my guns or no longer do squats, you can rest assured of one thing – I’m dead. :-)

      • I’m opposite. I’ll blog about this during the series but after getting to like 230 I had to go back to 160 to work on form – squats. Now using a low bench to gauge how low I get.

        The dead lift has become dumb easy for me, having progressed to mid 200s sumo, then going back to 160 on conventional as a born again. I have an extreme passion for deeds, now.

      • Well I think that part of the difference is that the classic lifts, the C&J and the snatch, are the foundation of my workouts. The squat, at least in the olympic lifting community, is considered the king of the assistance exercises when it comes to those movements.

        Nonetheless, both the squat (under the weight) and deadlift (at the start of the lift) are elements of the classic lifts. Here is the deadlift and pull done by an olympic lifter:

        http://youtube.com/watch?v=aQRb7Pf57Ag

        The other difference is that when I was still extremely active in competitive sports, nothing affected my competitive performance like the classic lifts and the squat, and I was deadlifting back in the earlier part of those days. Also nothing affected me anabolically like those lifts.

        Finally old Dr. Squat, Fred Hatfield, was writing about some studies at the time detailing the cardiovascular benefits of regular squatting. Fine by me. :-)

        Here is the aforementioned Dr. Hatfield dealing with some of the myths surrounding squatting:

        I May Not Know Diddley… But I Know Squat!

      • I never had a problem with squats personally, just deadlifts on one single repetition.

        :P

      • Adam Ball says:

        If you aren’t seeing a benefit from squats, it’s either because you’re not doing any, or because you’re doing them completely wrong. I don’t disagree that some people will have a harder time than others, and that you need to build up to performing heavy squats with good form versus just jumping under a bar, but telling people that deadlifts and squats are dangerous or a poor return on investment is straight blasphemy.

        Richard, I’m sure you’ve already heard of Mark Rippetoe, if you haven’t, I get the feeling you’d like his general outlook on life and all things in general.

        http://startingstrength.com/

        I particular enjoy this quote of his,

        “Only people willing to work to the point of discomfort on a regular basis using effective means to produce that discomfort will actually look like they have been other-than-comfortable most of the time.”

        Thanks.

      • Lute Nikoley says:

        Evan though disable for the past 2 months and probably another month, I still believe in the benefit of doing squats, just do them right, especially when you’re almost 73 years old, weight about 170, now 160 with an added 100 lbs. of weight. When I get back to doing squats, it’l be light starting fresh, with no wight added to begin with and then slowly start adding a little weight.

  7. You might find Stefan Molyneux of Freedomain Radio’s work interesting.

    I’ll say that I disagree with him about the necessity of a state. He wants to do away with it entirely. I see the value in a functioning criminal justice system and — even more crucially — an effective national defense.

    Both of which can operate effectively (and have done so in the past) without the State. Stefan has some good stuff. Highly recommended.

  8. If you’re ever going to have a surgery on your spine, a discectomy is the one to have, for sure (sounds like that’s what was done). Pretty darn non-invasive, for the most part. I had to refer my dad for one years ago and he’s doing great. Fusion surgeries are worthless and dangerous cash grabs but discectomies have pretty darn good outcomes. Really glad to hear your dad’s doing well, Richard.

    I’ll always contend that when it comes to acute “oh sh*t” type of moments, modern medicine is where it’s at. It really is. It’s chronic conditions (headaches, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, chronic pain, etc.) where they fall flat by encouraging lifelong chemical dependency.

    I’m also curious as to what he was up to prior to his injury. Best wishes for your dad and his recovery. Just think how much better he’ll recover on a diet that is NOT inflammatory!!!

    • Lute Nikoley says:

      I don’t eat grains, processed stuff, any oil but olive and coconut. Pretty much paleo.

  9. Glad to hear your fathers surgery turned out well.

    On to politics. Richard are you saying that you are no long a prescriber to a political philosophy or that you simply don’t give a shit and just want to be left alone to live your life as you see fit?

    As always, appreciate the blog posts.

    • yea, Jeremy, pretty much. The ship will sink, or it’ll be a utopia of some other we’re all in this together shit.

      In any case, Im swimming on my own to the extent I can be left alone.

  10. Lute Nikoley says:

    Thank you so much for for your encouragement. I also want to thank all those comment wishing me well. As for what occurred prior to the incident, I don’t really know. Except that I did my usual warmup (stretches), followed by my workout on my new Golds Gym Platinum. The squats I do, are from the low pulley, I use approx. 100 lbs. and I believe then is when I tore my l3-l4 disk. I didn’t feel a rip, but something happened that made me stop. And yes, it was Microdiscectomy.
    Again, thanks to all

    Lute

  11. Dan Hagg, MD says:

    Richard,
    another awesome post. glad your dad is feeling better. nerve compression is not a trivial thing.

    in my time learning and exploring the world of paleo/strength training, etc. i often find myself conflicted about using the MD or not in posts/replies. the truth is, there it is. I wouldn’t do/be anything else. I agree with most of the blogosphere that in the realm of nutrition/prevention western medicine is woefully off base. I practice intensive care medicine myself, my wife is a trauma surgeon and our friend/med school classmate and super blogger Emily Deans is a psychiatrist. all of us believe in the paleo lifestyle. all of us went to the same medical school, a very, very good medical school at that, and none of us received even the tiniest bit of education about nutrition or exercise during those years. we didn’t receive any meaningful education about nutrition in residency or during our fellowships either. That is just the nature of western medical training.

    I have gained a reputation at my hospital as the doctor who bangs on about nutrition, etc. I spend A LOT of time trying to teach our residents and fellows to be skeptical about what they read in the literature, to recognize the influence of industry on what they do/prescribe and learn, to realize that there is VERY LITTLE evidence backing the little bit they are taught (that sat fat/cholesterol are bad and statins should be in the water). Some get it, some don’t. the one thing that never ceases to amaze me are the number of colleagues i have in their 40s and 50s who are overweight, tired, grey-haired and bitter who absolutely refuse to consider what i’m saying. the best counter argument is really just a mirror isn’t it?
    Well, you are right, most of the time, western medicine hasn’t figured it out when it comes to prevention/diet/exercise. but for other things we do pretty damn well. and on behalf of my wife and trauma surgeons everywhere, thanks for the little shoutout. I fucking LOVE that scene. over the top and so narcissistic, but just awesome.

    and yes, still looking forward to all the leangains posts.
    should you visit Portland OR, shoot me an email and stop by. i’m not saying we’d need to hit the weight room downstairs for some heavy deadlifts prior to some steak grilling, but we could…

    • It’s really good to see a doctor like yourself who cared about nutrition. That’s where medicine started, more or less, and it’s still a damn effective component, I know you agree.

    • “…a very, very good medical school at that, and none of us received even the tiniest bit of education about nutrition or exercise during those years”

      This really gives me a pit-of-the-stomach dreadful feeling.

      • I don’t even mind that doctors aren’t experts on nutrition. If what they really know is antibiotics and anti-fungals and how to stitch up a wound and fix a bone and repair a heart valve … well hells bells, that’s a lot to know and the more expert they are at those things, the better.

        What I object to is the idea that if they’re not trained in nutrition, we should look at them as knowing how we should eat/get our blood chemistries in order. Presumably most doctos don’t have a clue.

    • Emily Deans MD says:

      I agree and disagree … Biochem is a heck of a lot of nutrition. Maybe I was lucky, with my undergrad degree in molecular biology, med school was the second time through most of the biochem, so some depth shone through. But is a teensy bit of standard nutrition bad, really? I remember a stout woman coming to teach us in med school about the DASH diet, of all things. (even then I wrote that I didn’t believe salt had much to do with hypertension!). I am no mechanic, but I daresay I am good at what I do. And psychiatrists are univerally desperate – all my old friends from residency are incredibly intrigued by the primal/paleo concept. We delve in areas with too few answers not to grasp anything solid we can get our hands on. We shouldn’t give up on the doctors. They truly want to help you be well. And they are smart, and driven. There’s a stubborn generation or two but beyond that… I teach med students, not residents, so perhaps that is why I am hopeful.

      • Adam Ball says:

        I think some of the trouble with teaching/learning about nutrition comes in the form of trying to fit it into the western model (i.e. this vitamin is for this problem).

        I like Robb Wolf’s insight on nutrition in his book. I don’t remember exactly how he worded it, but just that without a guiding principle (evolution/paleo/primal), the concept of nutrition is quite chaotic.

        Anyway, it’s great to see some MDs with a thirst for knowledge in these areas too! Thanks to both of you for the service you provide.

  12. Bay Area Sparky says:

    How many bananas did you make him eat? 35? 70?

  13. And yet modern medicine and an overabundance of food, the two main reasons for our health and longevity, are being attacked all the time by clueless do-gooders the world over.

    • sorry Felix, but if you had any clue. you would be able to see that modern medicine is in a dreadful state and an overabundance of food is not necessarily a good thing.. bad food is still bad food, bad medicine is still bad medicine.
      What concerns me about doctors going in to fix a disc is that often, very often the same pain comes back. What’s the lasting effect of cutting through all that muscle to treat the pain point? How many people, including doctors realise that often the paint point is a result of referred pain.
      Oh have been through sciatica twice.. even now i still have the residual pain.,. but its getting there. Surgery is THE very last option for me. I don’t know what its like in the US, but here in Australia.. the so called bloody experts really know Sweet FA..get an xray they say, get an MRI they say.. I had to go find the answer myself.. If only we would all listen to our bodies.. we could find our way to the answer.
      I’m grateful for the trauma docs being there if i get banged up, but I couldn’t resort to surgery to take the short cut.
      Saying that, glad your pain has gone Lute, its nasty when its in full swing.

      • Well, the question is always what you compare your state to. I am not wishing for the good old times of famines and bloodletting. Oh well, in the land of milk and honey we now think we need to worry that the milk may be pasteurized and that the honey contains fructose. I can’t help but find this hilarious.

      • gallier2 says:

        This reminds me of an excellent column from Dr.Malcolm Kendrick he wrote in the now defunct Redflag website. I hope he doesn’t mind that I publish his text in extenso as it has completely disappeared from the Internet:

        Why Is Medical Thinking So Stupid?

        By Malcolm Kendrick, MD

        A great deal of the time I find myself metaphorically banging my head against the wall in despair at the stupidity of much medical thinking. This is not, I would suggest, a new phenomenon. It always seems to have been thus. Go back 5,000 years….
        Caveman: “I’ve got this most terrible headache.”
        Medicine Man: “Worry not, I shall release the headache by drilling a hole in your head.”
        Caveman: “Actually it seems to have got a lot better … bye.” (Exit left to sound of hurried footsteps.)

        Whilst a few sensible people probably did run, lots of people also ended up having holes drilled in their heads. For several thousand years, it seems to have been the most popular medical treatment available. Headaches, epilepsy, schizophrenia … you name it, trepanning didn’t treat it.

        But did that stop the fanatical hole-boring movement? Not a bit. Once a medical man has a drill bit in his hand, and the chance to do something with it, he shalt most mightily drill, and to hell with the evidence.

        Trepanning, it seems to me, highlights the way that medical men have always thought. To a depth of about one millimetre, in the straightest of straight lines, without deviating one picometre from their pre-installed prejudices.

        A few examples of medical thinking

        A headache is a pain in the head…. Treatment option … drill a hole in the head.

        Earache is a pain in the ear…. Treatment option … drill a hole in the eardrum (and install a grommet).

        Sinusitis is a pain in the sinusitis…. Treatment option … drill a hole into the sinuses.

        I could go on, but I think you get the general picture. Doctors do like to drill a hole. They also like cutting things open and removing things. Tonsils, appendixes, toxic colons, adenoids, polyps, moles. This is not always bad, but as with many things in life, it becomes bad when taken to extremes.

        Drilling, cutting, chopping and removing, however, represents only a small area of medical stupidity. The most stupid area of medical thinking is a fanatical determination to make everything “normal.” Or at least normal according the currently prevailing prejudices.

        During the Vietnam War, when troops got shot, they were rushed on board helicopters, whereupon they were found to have very low blood pressures. Not surprising after you have been shot.

        But having a low blood pressure is not “normal.” And so the medics, who for the first time in a war had the ability to reach injured troops within minutes, installed drips and forced in extra fluid to get the blood pressure back to “normal.” By doing so, they killed almost every single battle casualty.

        Why, you might ask. Well, once shot, the body, recognizing that it has been severely damaged, goes into lockdown, allowing repair to occur. Part of this lockdown is to lower the blood pressure, thus allowing clots to seal up damaged arteries. If you force the blood pressure up, the clots break apart and you then bleed to death.

        To someone’s credit, this particular piece of stupidity was recognized and stopped. Although it must have taken a massively increased death rate before anyone paid attention.

        This drive to make things normal now affects almost all of us. Do you have a slightly high blood pressure? Get it back tonormal. But surely, if the blood pressure is high, it is because there is some underlying disease process. It is this disease process that we should be trying to treat, not the high blood pressure.

        Your blood sugar level is high. Get it back to normal. But surely, if the blood sugar level is high … etc.

        The lightest dusting of thought powder should make us think that perhaps, just perhaps, this inexorable drive to get measurements back to normal may not be doing much good. It is really just a gigantic exercise in sweeping abnormal measurements under the carpet. “Ah good, your blood pressure is normal….”
        And so we can then forget about the rather more difficult task of working out why the blood pressure was high in the first place…. Aaarrgghhh!

        I started by asking why is medical thinking so stupid, so one-dimensional, so restricted. I haven’t really answered that question, but I think it must be addressed because each generation of medics keeps making the same basic mistakes in thinking. My New Years’ resolution for 2006 is to promote a questioning attitude in as many doctors as possible.

  14. I may end up having back surgery in a couple of months myself. Why the bananas and potatoes if I might ask?

    • Lute Nikoley says:

      Actually it was was 2 bananas a day 1 glass of orange juice a day and a potato a day all for 2 days to boost my potassium, which was low at my pre-op procedures.
      Also I didn’t go to surgery the first thing, I tried P.T. first for about 6 weeks and things just got worse. Also there was a 9mm mass in the spinal canal squeezing on the nerve roots, causing a lot of pain in my right leg.

    • In addition, I think it’s smart to pack on a few pounds of fat in advance of any surgery. Hell, if I was going to have surgery I’d probably even pig out on candy bars for a few days in advance. In this scenario, you’re using candy as medicine, temporarily.

      • Lute Nikoley says:

        Geez Richard, I wish you would have told me a couple weeks before my surgery so I could have pigged out on chocolate bars. But instead I went into surgery with a 10 lbs. loss.

  15. Exercises like deadlift, squats, isometric squats, clean and jerk etc. are extremely useful in strengthening the back muscles and increasing backbone density.

    A decrease in backbone density is one of the key reasons why people become shorter as they age. A loss of 3 inches in height is not uncommon.

    The key is to do progressive overload slowly, as Richard noted.

  16. That’s the nice thing about being a surgeon. You see a problem, and you fix it. No horsing around with medical treatment that may not do you any good due to bad science.

  17. Adam Ball says:

    Hey Richard and Luke,

    I’m glad the surgery went well and I hope you have a speedy recovery. I just wanted to mention that if you’re dad is 72, his lumbar discs almost assuredly no longer contain any filling, making them pretty much completely fibrous, and therefore unrupturable. That being said, the herniation probably happened a long time ago, but had yet to show up with any symptoms. Being a little extra “exuberant” with deadlifts with this pre-existing condition may have led to some inflammation/swelling, leading to the symptoms.

    In the end none of that matters, as the mass was there and is now no longer there, which should make deadlifting in the future, much more enjoyable. I did want to mention that information though, because as a Chiropractor, I hear about “herniations” all the time, and the truth is that if all of us got an MRI, most of us would have herniations in our spines that don’t cause any symptoms at all. I suppose it’s a good indication of how resilient the human body is.

    Cheers boys!