Hogan Gorman, author of Hot Cripple, on Pain Management

My dear friend Hogan Gorman was a patient first. She wrote a one-woman show called Hot Cripple about her journey which then became the book.  Hogan turns a tragedy into an inspiring story with her wonderful sense of humor. It’s a great read.

I had no idea she would write about me when I asked her to write a guest article. I really just wanted to share her story.

Hot Cripple by Hogan Gorman

Pain is something I know a lot about, but managing pain is something that took me years to learn. In 2004 I was hit by a car going 40 MPH crossing a New York City street. The accident left me with: a head injury, five herniated discs between my neck and lower back, two torn ligaments in my right knee, and a chunk off the back of my knee cap. For over two years I went the western medicine route, and had more doctors than an eighty year old. My medicine cabinet looked like a pharmacy. I was so radiated by countless X-RAYS, CAT scans, and MRI’s that I probably still glow like Chernobyl. I had surgery on my knee, but thankfully I had the wherewithal to refuse the suggested surgeries on my neck and back, instead opting for the epidural steroid injections, that did nothing to alleviate my pain. It became apparent that these doctors couldn’t help me, but I was not willing to live the rest of my life in constant agony, so I began experimenting with alternatives.

These are the things that I found worked for me (in no particular order)… they are not quick fixes and require commitment, but it beats having someone carve on your spine, or taking a fist full of pills just to get through the day. And thanks to these things I am now pain free.

  1. First on the list was going to the gym (yes, that’s that place where you have a membership and only use it when your in the neighborhood and need a bathroom). I made a pact with myself to go to the gym five days a week. Now, I don’t pump iron or take high impact boot camp stuff, I mean, I don’t want to end up in a body bag. I stretch, do light cardio, and then I do core strengthening exercises on a large plastic ball. The exercises make me look like I’m humping the ball… but whatever; they strengthen my stomach which helps support my back.
  2. Pilates – on the reformer. Okay, I’m not gonna, lie the reformer looks like a device of torture, but despite the intimidating design it was created to help strengthen injured people’s core muscles in prison camps during World War 1.
  3. Vipassana meditation- Now if someone would have told me that I would go to a ten day silent meditation retreat pre-accident, I would have thought they were on crack. I can barely shut up for ten minutes, so ten days would be impossible. But guess what? I did shut up for ten days, and I liked it. Vipassana taught me to observe the pain (or as they would call it ‘sensation’) instead of drowning in it. When you quiet the mind you realize that pain is never constant, it exacerbates and remits. There are gaps, and through meditation you can learn to live in the pain free gaps.
  4. After trying acupuncture for a while my acupuncturist suggested that I should go see a non-aggressive chiropractor. Yup, this is where Lisa Kirsch comes in. The woman needs no introduction, since this is after all her blog. The first time I went to Tribeca Chiropractic I have to admit I wasn’t sure if it was going to work. I remember thinking ‘Ummm she’s barely touching me. I got hit by a car, shouldn’t she be hanging me upside down, or cracking me, or something? I’ve got some serious spinal issues.’ Oh Ye Of Little Faith. After a few months of appointments, two times a week, I was walking down the street, and something just wasn’t right, wasn’t normal, and then it hit me ‘wait, I’m not in pain’. After every appointment the pain got less and less, until one day it was gone for good.

I meet so many people that have chronic back pain. They cry to me, and whine to me about what pain they are in, and I listen with empathetic ears. “Nobody can help me. The doctor says I need surgery.” My response is always the same, “Well what are you doing to help yourself?” Usually they are doing nothing. They want to be pain free but they aren’t working at it, which is like saying you want to loose ten pounds and eating at McDonalds everyday… unless you put in the work, it’s not going to happen.

Hogan Gorman

Posted in Guest Articles at March 30th, 2013. No Comments.

FitzGordon Method Core Walking Program

I would like to introduce the readers of my  blog to Jonathan FitzGordon.  Jonathan is a friend whom many people told me I had to meet long before we ever met.  He and I always spoke about the lumbar curve and the psoas muscle. Everyone learning about those concepts in yoga classes couldn’t believe we didn’t know each other and thought we would get along.  They were right. I always seek his advice and I have sent many of my clients for his excellent workshops, classes and one on one sessions.  Please check out his blog at FitzGordon Method Core Walking Program

If you can’t stand and walk correctly it is probably interfering with everything else you’re doing.

Stick Your Butt Out

It is important in both standing and walking to stick your butt out. This simple statement seems to go against the grain of what many people want to think and believe is correct. As a culture we love to tuck our pelvis. Maybe you hurt your back and a physical therapist told you to tuck under to lengthen your low spine; or you’ve done too many bad fitness classes at the gym, or you simply think your butt is too big.  For whatever of the many reasons the vast majority of people allow the weight of the spine to fall backwards through the sacrum tucking the pelvis under and taking the femur (thigh) bones forward with it.
Standing up straight, and proper posture really is as simple as that, requires a skeletal adjustment to allow your thighs to move underneath your pelvis. This sticking out of the buttocks is actually meant to relax these muscles and help us find deeper core muscles to hold us up. We are truly a tight assed people. We grip our butts in tension and frustration, which is a natural reaction but as with everything we tend to overdo it. The femur bones falling forward in space results in a constant engagement of the butt and thigh muscles (quadriceps).
When standing the quads and glutes should be working as little as possible to let important core muscles function properly. When we walk the big buttock muscle gluteus maximus works as the back leg extends backwards but it doesn’t or shouldn’t need to hold us up. Butt gripping is one of modern man’s great dilemmas.
The release of the butt goes hand in hand with a shifting of the pelvis. The effects of this shift are far reaching. As the thighs move back and under the pelvis your legs will release differently in walking and you will feel a more even distribution of energy through the foot with every step. The shift of the pelvis into proper alignment accesses the correct curve of your lower back bringing instant support to all the bones of the spine. Your shoulders will lift up and back naturally and the head will find greater support at the top of the spine.

Release your butt and embrace a whole new realm of energetic possibilities when walking and standing.

Best,
Jonathan

FitzGordon Method Core Walking Program

Posted in Articles at March 23rd, 2013. 2 Comments.

Cleanse: Day 21

Today is the last day! I made it! Even though this is my third time doing the cleanse, it still feels so satisfying to make it to the end.

Smoothie: strawberry celery and cucumber (with ginger and banana of course!)

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Lunch: veggie curry over brown rice, salad

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Dinner: salad, kale & greens risotto with chicken

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In other news, I got my acceptance letter on the mail today! As of October 2013, I will be a chiropractic student! I’m so excited.

Posted in Cleanse at March 21st, 2013. 1 Comment.

Cleanse: Day 20

Happy spring!

Smoothie: apple celery cucumber smoothie.

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Exercise: arc trainer, 30 minutes; weights, 30 minutes. I think the arc trainer is the hardest low-impact cardio machine I’ve tried so far. Everyone makes it look so easy! That’s going to be me, soon(ish).

Lunch: grilled tilapia and veggies over wild rice salad from Gourmet Garage, mushroom puree and roasted shitake mushrooms from Cafe Clementine

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Dinner: soup & salad!

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Posted in Cleanse at March 20th, 2013. No Comments.

Cleanse: Day 19

Smoothie: celery pear ginger, just because.

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Celery Pear Ginger Smoothie
(makes 2 servings)
1 cup coconut water
4 scoops SP Complete (Dairy-Free)
2 scoops Whole Food Fiber
1 ripe banana
1 ripe pear
6 celery stalks, cut into smaller sections
1 inch section of ginger
1 cup water

Combine, blend and enjoy!

Lunch: No time for lunch today 🙁 I drank a lot of water and didn’t really feel too hungry though.

Dinner: I was at Whole Foods picking up more coconut water and figured I might as well pick up dinner too.

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Two whole days left! I’m amazed at how quickly that flew by. The way I see it, time is going to pass no matter what, might as well make the most of it.

Posted in Cleanse at March 19th, 2013. No Comments.

Cleanse: Day 18

Smoothie: I’ve gotten my morning smoothie session down to 5 minutes from 15. At the same time, I have no idea what I have and have not done at this point but there’s still a few more recipes I’d like to try out.
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Lunch: Today was the first time I had meat at Chipotle! Their chicken is antibiotic-free, and pretty tasty.

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chicken burrito bowl

Dinner: I bought this spaghetti squash with every intention of making something of it. Today was the day! Spaghetti squash, garlic pepper green beans, jerk chicken and curry quinoa.
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Posted in Cleanse at March 18th, 2013. No Comments.

Cleanse: Day 17

Smoothie: strawberry papaya smoothie. I would have added ginger today too bit I’ve run out! It was still really tasty. Next time.

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strawberry papaya smoothie

I packed a few clementines for a snack (just in case).

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Exercise: Running, 30 minutes; weights, 30 minutes; walking around the Pier Antique Show, 1 hour.

Lunch: Thai in Hell’s Kitchen afterwards.

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chicken pad key mao at Wondee Siam

Dinner: Sam gae tang (chicken stew with ginseng) at Seoul Garden

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Posted in Cleanse at March 17th, 2013. No Comments.

Cleanse: Day 16

Spring is coming! Only 4 days until spring, and 5 until completing the cleanse. I feel great!

Smoothie: There’s something about fresh ginger that makes me all toasty and warm inside no matter what the weather is like. I’m really liking the ginger and cinnamon combination these days.

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papaya ginger smoothie

Papaya Ginger Smoothie
(makes 2 servings)
1 cup coconut water
4 scoops SP Complete (Dairy-Free)
2 scoops Whole Food Fiber
1 ripe banana
1 cup ripe papaya
1 inch section of ginger, diced
1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup water

Blend and enjoy!

Lunch: Wild Ginger again. The hot gazpacho soup was so satisfying. I couldn’t not have the miso eggplant and the steamed dark leafy greens.. It all sounded so good. I’m stuffed.

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hot gazpacho soup, steamed dark leafy greens

Read More…

Posted in Cleanse at March 16th, 2013. No Comments.

Cleanse: Day 15

Smoothie: apple celery smoothie. I didn’t really taste the celery, so I added fresh ginger and cinnamon and called it a day.

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Exercise: cardio, 30 minutes.

Lunch: We took a little walk around Tribeca during lunch and got some goodies. Billy at Bell Bates makes an awesome green juice. We asked him to add lemon, apple and ginger to ours. Lisa picked up some tangelos, which we had for a post-lunch snack.

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I’ve been craving the chicken quinoa salad at Pecan ever since day 11. It’s even better than I remembered with a little basalmic vinaigrette.

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Dinner: yummy beet & spinach salad, broccoli rabe & mushroom brown pasta, and potato leek soup

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Posted in Cleanse at March 15th, 2013. No Comments.

Cleanse: Day 14

Today is the end of Week 2!

Smoothie: carrot apple ginger smoothie. I woke up in the middle of the night with this combination. I’m amazed that I remember it.

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Lunch: Leftovers and potato leek soup.I made potato leek soup the night before, and it was perfect for lunch today.

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Exercise: Yoga, 95 minutes.

Dinner: Whole Foods! Quick dinner before going out. I’m going to see Ari Hest play at Union Hall tonight. If you haven’t been, it’s this really cool bar in Park Slope.

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seaweed salad, roasted apple & sweet potatoes, broccoli, chicken, brown rice salad, malaysian salmon salad

Posted in Cleanse at March 14th, 2013. No Comments.