No excuses…

Well no excuse for me to not have posted anything in the past 2 months. Sure a lot has happened and I just didn’t write anything about it… I can say I’m still doing better and am continuing my journey to improve my health and lifestyle. One exciting thing that happened is that one of my friends is now also doing la-jin/pai-da as a way to improve health. Spring break seems like a good time to do something like that.

Yeah there aren’t any excuses to be had for not being healthy just as there aren’t any for not writing another blog post.

There’s an interesting blog post at http://crohnology.com/blog/12-believing-in-the-patient-revolution. Sean Ahrens, a patient of Crohn’s disease has talked about his experience and how he has turned that into a learning experience and ultimately a product/website that is trying to utilize the patients as the sources of new treatments. Very interesting stuff. P2P sharing of treatments seems interesting as well as the interaction of patients with the same ailments. Excited to see what happens there; I had some hopes of trying to contribute something like that as well, although not necessarily through a website. I guess right now I’m focusing on improving myself (although its true that it shouldn’t mean I can’t be working towards helping others as well).

How badly do we want to get better?

All from http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_5dc946a60102e1bu.html. I wish my Chinese was better; then I could translate all of it for myself and everyone…

Here is the before and after la-jin and pai-da.

Edit: Ok so the pictures don’t show up here (well they shouldn’t so I shouldn’t complain). Just go to the site at the top or click on the links to see the difference.

Another person with psoriasis. (here is the wikipedia page) It is similar to ezcema but like in this case can cover the whole body. Like all chronic diseases, there is no ‘cure’, only treatments. “There are many treatments available, but because of its chronic recurrent nature, psoriasis is a challenge to treat. Withdrawal of corticosteroids (topical steroid cream) can aggravate the condition due to the ‘rebound effect‘ of corticosteroids”.

That’s pretty awesome. Sure tells me I have a lot to work on.

Some Commentary on “Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead”

From the movie “Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead” at 2:30 (you can see it on Hulu for free here):

“I think in a funny way, I’m thankful that I got sick.

Because if I didn’t get sick, that was kind of like my body telling me to slow down and to get well.

Who knows, if i hadn’t of gotten sick, I might not have ever slowed down; I might of already had a heart attack and died.

So, you won’t ever know.

But I’m thankful for that.”

It really stood out to me. Just from the first few minutes I knew it might be interesting. That quote is exactly how I started feeling just not with the same situation, disease, etc. Be thankful for those hardships, problems, mistakes -> they lead to growth, learning, and life.

It was a good documentary that showed how he and another guy were able to do something that enabled them to change their lifestyle. I realize that at face-value maybe it whole thing seems like an infomercial for buying juicers. The key thing I took away is that doing that 60 day juice fast worked for them such that they really had permanent changes to their health. You and no one else has to do that exact same thing. Once the initial trial experiment of a week was done and there were improvements, all they had to do was maintain and then use that to change how they would live afterwards.

I’m sure most people would agree when the doctor says, “Something like more than 70% of all diseases can be attributed to problems in lifestyle.” Its just like all those people in the documentary said. They all said they were weak, had no willpower, and couldn’t help themselves. Many of them said that it was only there own fault and they would probably only live to 55. People tell themselves they will try to change themselves someday. Some of them said they would rather die happy eating junk food than torture themselves to get a few extra years of life. They certainly grasped that they have problems but have no idea what it means.

Both of the people who ended up losing all that weight had a vision of what they wanted to do with their lives and were tired of feeling sick, depending on pills, etc. Everyone needs to find out how they can change themselves, because we already what we need to do. Whether its praying, meditation, or just finding time to think for yourself about yourself without the infinite distractions of our world, it is possible.

“God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons we could not learn in any other way. The way we learn those lessons is not to deny the feelings but to find the meanings underlying them.” -Stanley Lindquist

The new year!

So. Haha I still feel like each holiday just passes by while I don’t write something. I guess I could have wrote about a lot of stuff really but then nothing would be coherent. All those small thoughts that weren’t written down. Oh well. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone! I hope all of us realize how important our health is =).

Books: Well I’m planning on finishing up “Predictably Irrational” and of course starting “The Upside of Irrationality” (the next book) soon. I just got “Born to Run” from a friend. Hopefully it inspires me to do so. It really does seem like running can cure almost all problems – I just don’t want it that badly.

Podcasts: I’ve been trying to listen to some of the podcasts from http://fastbuddha.com/audio/ – That guy is the teacher of the guy who created yixingtianxia (the method I learned about to help me). So yeah i’m trying to improve my Chinese. All his podcasts are usually about health. Too bad I couldn’t translate everything into English. I realized trying to even do so for just a sentence takes like 5 minutes because you really need to know what he is trying to say. Still trying to find a better way to do so…

Something to think about: I been thinking a lot about 吃亏. The phonetic pronounciation is chi kui. Something like ‘cher kway’ I guess. Its a concept used to describe what you feel when you have suffered a loss or when you don’t get what you think you deserve. It is any time you’ve felt like you have wasted your time (maybe waiting for someone/something), wasted your money, felt like what you put in was less than what you got out of it. For example, you have to get to class in a hurry. One option is to wait at the bus stop for x minutes, or you start speed walking to get to class. What happens is that right when you start walking the bus comes around the corner and you don’t notice and pretty soon its passed you while you are walking. At at moment you feel chi kui, because you realized you could have waited for the bus instead.

There are so many examples of this its pretty crazy. Its just that feeling that way shouldn’t be so frustrating. Why do should we feel so angry, so sad, so emotional at things that really don’t make a difference?

In a general sense, I’m sure all of us realize that negative emotions affect ourselves severely. I mean we probably even learned something like that in health. These mental issues create actual physical problems. So we should try to stay away from such things. So how can we convince ourselves to stay unaffected, to stay calm? How can we learn to think in a positive light?

  • To put things in perspective, we think of these events in relation to a few days from now, a few weeks, a few years, eternity. Nothing seems that bad anymore. Why did I get frustrated/stressed out over that little thing? That bad test grade, that long argument, being bored, losing a game, and all your #firstworldproblems…
  • We can try to not just put ourselves in other people’s shoes, but to realize they are justified in their perspective and have a reason that you just can’t understand at the moment. Before we get angry and have the inability to comprehend and think clearly we should realize that much of the time there is a misunderstanding.
  • Likewise, know that no one knows exactly what you are thinking and vice-versa. Know that people can’t know what you have already seen, known, learned, heard. I’ve remembered myself getting frustrated at people (family, friends, people I don’t even know) for not knowing something (its only hurting myself). Whenever I see others do this, I can now see how I do the same thing.
  • Find the good in others. Of course this goes for both you like and dislike. The only reason why you can’t think of anything is because your stuck thinking that person is annoying, mean, etc. Realize what you are doing to that person and what harm you are actually doing to yourself. Appreciate and complement what they are good at.
  • Try not to judge. Try not to assume people’s nature/intent even though you think it will help you get an advantage or is useful. I’m talking about understanding and keeping yourself content – not deception.
  • Related to this – seeing the world as a ‘good’ person or in a positive light. This means something like not assuming that someone doing something sneaky is someone bad etc. We are not all policemen, lawyers, spies, robbers, thieves, etc.
  • Example: A random guy gets into a car crash with this lady. He runs away. Another guy comes up to try to help the lady out and pick her up. She immediately assumes the guy who is helping her is the guy who crashed her guy and proceeds to shout at him and sue him. He tells her that he wasn’t that guy but she doesn’t believe him. Luckily the street camera’s caught a picture of his car showing that he wasn’t the guy who crashed the guy. Even after the evidence was shown, the lady just made up a bunch of excuses to why she thought he did it.
  • Think of others as a reflection of yourself. This is basically the above. This is such a hard thing to do. If you act like a thief, then you will think any action that others do that resembles what you do will have the same intent as yourself. So if you see the ‘bad’ in someone, realize that you too have done something like that, if not the exact same thing. I am slowly trying to understand this well.

I say these things because I’ve seen them in my self. I’ve noticed how much I used to act, and how far I’ve come since all that ‘bad’ stuff happened (since then I realized it has been a blessing). However, there is much to improve upon. I’m happy that at least I’ve found a few things I have problems with.

Reading through this list that I’ve now made, I realize that a lot of this stuff seems like ‘common sense’. Its kind of funny. I guess it should be obvious it should be that way, since we usually know the solutions to many of our problems but just won’t use them. The concept of common sense is just so ironic because it is really just common knowledge that not many people actually use…

Writing

I came upon this article: http://techcrunch.com/2011/11/12/10-things-entrepreneurs-dont-learn-in-college/ I thought this quote was really awesome.

“And what is good writing? It’s not an opinion. Or a rant. Or a thesis with logical steps, a deep cavern underneath, beautiful horizons and mountaintops at the top. It’s blood. It’s Carrie-style blood. Where everyone has been fooling you until that exact moment when now, with the psychic power of the written word, you spray pig blood everywhere, at everyone, and most of all you are covered in blood yourself, the same blood that pushed you out of your mother’s womb, until just the act of writing itself is a birth, a separation between the old you and the new you—the you that can no longer take the words back, the words that now must live and breathe and mature and either make something of themselves in life, or remain one of the little blips that reminds us of how small we really are in an infinite universe.”

I’ve always thought writing was difficult. I’ve never felt the need to do it for school work. Only in writing this blog and all the posts have I really felt like I could “no longer take the words back”. I stopped this for such a long time because I thought I was doing something wrong or had the wrong approach. I shouldn’t care though. I’ve learned a lot and should continue to while doing this.

Well this semester is almost over. I’ve had any major problems with my health so far. The fact that I want to be out there trying to run and do handstands is a signal of how far I have really come. I think all I have to do is read all the stuff I was saying before. Trying to be athletic or want to do something was the last thing on my mind. I’m glad that I am not so scared of pain, not so afraid of failing, not weak and feeble. I’ve started some physical therapy to help me improving my walking. I’ve still had a limp from when my back/hip was hurting as well as a stiff back that causes me to not move my shoulders/hips. Its pretty expensive so I just need to make sure I do my exercises and try to improve fast. So far I think its been going well, as I actually feel like my upper body is moving somewhat and my arms are moving with my hips. Its crazy that I couldn’t notice the problem before. Its crazy something that I used to take for granted could be so hard. I’l try to update this later.

The long journey

I can only say that my life has truly been changed through my diseases. I can say in large part it had to doing with going through the experience and coming out if not at least healthy but also happy. I feel like a totally different person, eager to learn, to speak, to interact with others about life. Yeah it may seem as if I act seriously too often, but its only because so much has happened. Because I’ve been so greatly helped it only seems right to try and tell other people about what I’ve been through and what I’ve experienced. Its all pretty new to me but I feel eager to learn. I guess this passion comes from the personal connection to my life. The opportunity has risen for me and I have to take it.

But I feel a big barrier to doing this. If anything seems out of the ordinary its just not to be looked at and considered automatically fake. They tell you to prove your claims – well how would I start (wheres the money, the research, the resources supposed to come from)? I can see the skeptical point of view because I’ve been there. However when it comes to your life being at threat, the comfort of statistics is useless. The conventional procedure may have a 70& ‘success’ rate with 30% death, but that statistic isn’t for an individual. If you happen to be in that category then people will just say its just ‘bad luck’. I don’t think its stupid, irrational, ignorant to try alternative medicine. I’ve tried the conventional stuff. Every new medicine (the drugs before they are tested) have just as much uncertainty as any other unproven medicine. They people who try the new theorized/hypothesized methods are just as liable to failure as anyone who does anything else. I don’t think I’m an uninformed individual who is starting to turn to ‘stories’ instead of evidence. Sometimes you have to believe what you can’t see (how do you know its not there) and sometimes you can’t believe what you do see. I feel that all the experts (in my experience listening to lectures, conferences, meetings, etc) all know they don’t know everything and are humble at heart. But online, I think its way to easy to ignore alternative approaches and dismiss what is said as emotional stories. Everyone should take a step back and really think about the conventional approach to health we are taking today. Maybe we might realize the fundamental problems with the approach and the amount of resources that are there but aren’t in the position to support research in alternative methods.

Before everyone runs me over saying that I’m turning a story into scientific data/conclusions, that anecdotes = truth, I’m not claiming that. I’m not denying what the current medical system has done and am not denying that it has usefulness. If i did already then I didn’t mean to say that. 1 case study, 1 example, 1 story sure doesn’t mean it will work for everyone, that its truth, that it means that there’s no argument. However, the research of everyone in the world, the agreement of experts, and thousands of studies still can’t guarantee those things either. Your depending all upon statistics, and the averages and data points of test subjects. The conventional medicine can fail for that same individual as well. What I’m trying to argue for is that this anecdote is ‘evidence’ for truth/correlation that may lead to better understanding health and medicine.

The big problem isn’t that people are being tricked into being fakery, people turning to alternative medicine because of ancedotes of success, people talking about the misincentives of corportaions, doctors, etc. The problem is that the people who are in the industry aren’t doing enough research about it. It may seem true that a lot of the alternative approaches would bring a lot less money in (they don’t cost a lot).

It’s probably going to be a long ride to get to the state we would like to be in. I would certainty like to take part in it.

Update: I’l probably write a longer post about what I think to be reasons for the barriers to alternative forms of medicine. A lot of it will be purely conceptual, experienced based, and full of my own assumptions but hey I want to speak  what I’ve been thinking.

ARE we going to cure all diseases? (Part 2)

Here’s something regarding the market of conventional medicine and the alternatives. About the insane amount of testing of drugs and the virtually non-existent further testing of anything else.

Now I’m not arguing for the destruction of conventional medicine or the viability of all alternative medicines. Its more that I believe these things need to be given a chance. At some point, many diseased folk turn to alternative ways because they don’t believe in the risk of getting conventional medicines (risky, side effects, money, stress). Most/many alternatives may be truly fake, but there isn’t any real way of knowing without that testing. Chinese medicine has for thousands of years been practiced. The amount of vigor used to test these methods must be (i’m assuming) shockingly small compared to conventional medicine. Like you said – conventional medicine started off with a story of an accident/experiment that led to a product. It was all incidental in the beginning (1st revolution in medicine). It led hypotheses about drugs/medicine which led to massive experimentation through the brute forcing of many chemical libraries (2nd revolution in medicine). Just the word libraries itself shows how much failure there was in discovering just a single drug. The process it takes to make any viable drug takes forever. Now why aren’t we doing this for anything else? Skeptics (me included) claim that all these other methods are fake and don’t work after a few studies. At this point nothing that is different can possibly be considered to be viable as medicine because we all assume it already doesn’t work. We need to put hypotheses to the test, and refine them just like we have with drugs. Isn’t it possible that a hidden revolution could be discovered through the research in some alternative medicine (which might bring more understanding to conventional methods)?

Random: Its weird how in this age of computing and the internet its still hard to contact someone (someone “known”). It might be easier to find them but its still hard for anyone to respond. Depending on the virtual filters (email, spam, anonymity) you must go through its pretty hard to get someone’s attention. Yeah its true there is twitter, email, and facebook. I guess its just I still harbor the same embarrassment, fear of rejection, and ignorance as before when I did not have these tools.

Update: I was really happy to find that some speakers in my CS class said a good step towards a startup was at least writing a blog. Hey that’s what I’m doing now! Right now, I can see the value of doing this for myself personally… who knows the value for anyone else at this point.

I’l get back to the lecture next post!

Steve Jos’ Death + Alternative Medicine + Skepticism = Wow now I’m going to have a hard time (Part 2)

Part 1 is here.

Most of my arguments are probably just emotional and personal but they are real. They might not make a lot of sense and it sounds like I’m just complaining on the state of medicine. Of course skeptics won’t believe in anything that isn’t proved by empirical evidence. In any normal case I wouldn’t either. However it seems as if its too difficult to get anything able to be tested. It seems as if the barrier to entering some solution is way too high. We are all criticizing alternative medicine on the whole based on a narrow of view of all of it. I would think the definition of alternative medicine to be just any solution that isn’t conventional and not proven yet. If all these alternative medicines are such a pain to deal with… it should somehow be easier to test their claims. The faster and easier it is to do, the faster the public can know about whether it is effective or not. There is kind of a problem if there is so backing of money, time, and people into modern medicines to test and discover whether they are effective. We never will know about the failed medicines that didn’t pass. Its probably very possible that the same medicines that have been empirically proven to give a positive result for a disease were changed many times over and experimented on many times. I mean most of the medicines that are created now are from libraries of chemical compounds through brute force processing. Out of the possible combinations of chemicals, very few may be effective for anything. However we are able to test extensively because of the money behind it. Automation of testing of thousands or millions of compounds, and after millions of ‘ineffectiveness’ there finally becomes a product that might work. There probably isn’t that much spent into testing anything else. There definitely should be resources being spent to understand alternative therapies because there might be a hidden solution in there. As skeptics we choose not explore that territory by refining the methods, understanding the concepts, and continuing to test to get results. We trying to learn what works by coming up with a hypothesis, testing it, and continuing to go on the same path and changing it till it does work. Why shouldn’t we use this approach for other things.

In the end, I want to talk with people. I want to be a part of this. People who know about this industry and know what to do about it. I want to learn about what I can do to test what I have done as soon and effectively as possible because I have been so helped by it. La-jin and pai-da have certainly changed my life for the better.

Steve Jos’ Death + Alternative Medicine + Skepticism = Wow now I’m going to have a hard time (Part 1)

According to this article (found from Hacker News), Steve ‘succumbed’ to alternative medicine. He tried some other therapies before going through a conventional therapy way later. Cool.

“I’m sad that today I’m adding a slide to one of my live presentations, adding Steve Jobs to the list of famous people who died treating terminal diseases with woo rather than with medicine.”

“We can’t say for sure that Steve would still be alive and making lives better were it not for the alternative therapy, but the statistics suggest it very strongly. If you insist on unproven therapies, fine; but also try the proven ones. ”

Its certainly true that his alternative therapy did cause him to postpone the conventional therapy which would have ‘kept him alive’ since we can’t say for sure. The author makes this statement and suggests that the statistics => best decision. We can’t say he was irrational or even mistaken for believing in unproven alternatives. If the conventional way was the right decision and the best way then anyone would have done it. Obviously that percent chance of getting better wasn’t worth the risk to him and other things were.

I would certainly not insist of unproven therapies as well. Its just that in my case and in many other people’s cases, we have tried the ‘proven’ ones many times over. You begin to find yourself in a state where you become skeptical of everything. I’ve tried the conventional medicine my whole life. All I have done was take medicine, pills, drugs, shots, procedures which took a lot of time and money and created a lot of mental pain rather than physical pain which it gets rid of. I can see why everyone becomes so emotional and turns to alternative ways. If the proven ways are so useless to me as well as having severe side effects why not try something else? I’ve been through countless ‘alternative medicines’ and yeah in the end they all didn’t work. Each time I became more skeptical than before of the next one. But why would I keep trying? Because conventional medicine didn’t have an answer (a cure) and only a treatment. It was extremely emotionally draining to try things based on stories and testimonials and find it it didn’t work for me.

However, the system is too rigid. Its way to hard to introduce any scientific study on anything that doesn’t seem like a drug. (I’m assuming this). I wish I had more information on how I would go about getting people to let me make an experiment to test whether something is empirically giving results. But I hear things like “10 years to approve some medicine” or something. People don’t really have any interest in figuring out of other alternative medicines work because they already assume they don’t. Of course most of the stuff out there is crap because some bad people believe they can make a lot of cash in a quick amount of time by scamming people but that doesn’t mean everything out there is fake. The same could be said for anything. The conventional way may not always work and there is always cases of misdiagnosis, malpratice, etc. Its still not any easier to test anything.

There is too much emphasis on money, profits, and business. What happened to figuring out a patient and all aspects of his/her life? Every medicine is so standardized to the point that it may be totally useless to people. Everyone is different, every situation is different. “One size fits all” certainty shouldn’t be applied in medicine when you might be treating someone with the wrong amount of everything for every single person because the medicine is based on an average of all the people.

–to be continued

ARE we going to cure all diseases? (Part 1)

I’m already at 2 posts a week now… Yay!

So Tuesday, I went to a lecture by Aaron Ciechanover entitled “Drug Development in the 21st Century: Are We Going to Cure all Diseases?” I thought it was an very interesting talk. I really appreciate him coming to Georgia Tech as well as going into the non-technical aspects of disease. It was relativity easy to understand what he was talking about coming from someone who has no interest in medicine and hasn’t studied chemistry and biology extensively. It was interesting for my to talk about interesting questions that come up based on the knowledge we are learning about. I guess I will first go over what he talked about and my opinions and then I might go over how it got me to think more about how informing key/important people would be great but ironically the hardest people to convince.

I thought he came about as pretty humble even given all his accomplishments throughout the lecture. He started off talking about how he is a physician by profession, how medicine is a hobby of is, and how he would talk over the philosophy/history of medicine. First answering the question of the title of his lecture, he went ahead and basically said his answer was “I don’t know” because of the continuing evolution of the definition of medicine, disease, and health as well as an inability to predict the future.

He talked about how we have extended life by about 30 years within the last 100 years (1900s) while over the past 4000 years, life has only been extended by 20 years. There has been a complete change in life because of how long the average person is living today. He talked about how people are now acquiring and dying from neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, heart disease, etc. He hes that it’s not that we didn’t now about the diseases before, but more than because people are living longer they are more susceptible to these kinds of diseases (basically since its only now that we are living to this age it is only now we know about these diseases). Going back to the idea of curing all diseases, he said how since our lifespans are slowly increasing even longer that there might be even more that we will only find out about in the future so its hard to know.

One question I would have which disagrees with his argument is “Why are people getting these diseases as children?” Why are younger and younger people getting these diseases that we thought were only for ‘old’ people. In my own case, my every single doctor, friend, parent, and teacher were exclaiming how it was so weird I would have such a back problem at such an early age. I know my case isn’t as severe as cancer but why are we discovering that young people are getting it earlier and earlier? Is it that we have ‘better’ technology to find symptoms that would indicate a risk for these diseases, or is there something else causing this to happen. I think its the case that there’s a big reason underlying these changes that has more to do with behavior/environment rather than living longer lives. This is of course without facts/evidence from finding direct scientific studies  and more of speculation through my own experience and the experiences of others but there is a case for what all the improvements we have gained has done to us. I don’t think any of us realize (including me) the extent to which we have become different people. These small changes add up, and we can’t see the consequences until its too late and we need a magic pill to save us.

The things that we have to think about in society is crazy. There is too many to list. Kids have to worry about making friends, wearing the right clothes, listening and watching the right music/tv, doing the right/cool activities, trying to think about how they should act. They care too much about grades, homework, and school. They care too much about fun, distractions, excitement. And at the end of the school day, everyone is ‘bored.’ There is always something that has to be going on. We had phones, then cell phones, computers, the internet, email, text messaging, and now twitter/facebook/reddit/tumblr/…. Its not just that we have begun to find diseases because of living longer. We have created a whole lot of behaviors that I think have certainly caused a lot of burden on the mind. In the past 100 years I’m sure our brain has substantially increased the # of things that should be happening at one time. Its shouldn’t be a surprise to us that it seems as if no one cares, some become depressed, or even worse. There is too much you think you have to do when it all doesn’t matter. I can’t criticize but focus seems like the hardest thing to do for most people. Its not about being smart anymore; its more that no one cares enough to do anything. There is so much out there but we choose to do whats comfortable. Almost everyone in college sleeps late, eats unhealthy, etc – what do we all think is going to happen years down the road? I’m in no position to tell anyone would to do but… health is usually the last thing on our minds… if not at all.

=) –to be continued

Update: There actually an online video of the lecture. Nice!