I write so many things that I cannot polish and publish them all, so this place is a repository for random ramblings. Perhaps someday I will draw on some of them for finished products; but since many are timely or might otherwise never see the light of day, I feel it makes sense to put them here in case they might be of use to somebody else. (Not for plagiarizing, of course!) For a list of my publications, go to www.docsoc.com. Enjoy.
by Joel Marks
December 29, 2015
It’s nothing short of a miracle. Pressure points, aka
trigger points – have you heard of them? I could not tell you what the
underlying physiology is. But I learned about them in practice from a good
friend of mine, who is a masseur and also the creator of a line of simple tools for
self-massage. When a number of years ago I began noticing that sign of exceeding
the normal lifespan of Homo erectus, namely, lower back pain, Allan gave me a squash ball to place between my back and the wall and then roll across. The aim was to
discover a pressure point which was somehow responsible for the “referred pain”
in my back.
After some experimenting I found a spot on one side of my
spine, seeming to be in a cord that ran up and down the side of my back parallel
to the spine (there being another cord on the other side as well). How did I
know it was “the” spot? Because it hurt sharply when the ball rolled over it.
Lo and behold, after doing this for no more than three seconds
– just two or three passes of the ball over the pressure point – I found that
my back pain had vanished. And stayed vanished for the rest of the day. A pain that
had been with me for hours every day for months. Gone. Not gone forever. But now whenever the pain comes back,
which is not too often, I just grab the ball, roll on it, and in two or three
seconds, the back pain is gone for that day and beyond.
(Note: It is very important, I have discovered empirically,
not to overdo this technique. First of all, do not expect the pain at the location of the pressure point to go
away from application of the ball. The referred pain will disappear even though
the pressure point pain remains. Eventually the pressure point pain will go
away of its own accord; and in any case it’s not a problem, because you only
feel it when you are applying pressure, as with the ball. If you try to get the
pressure point pain to go away by continuing to rub it with the ball, you are
asking for severe trouble. Later in the day the area will hurt like the blazes,
and could even be crippling.)
This has changed my life, for the better, obviously. It has
also led to my becoming experimental with my body. Now whenever I have a new
pain (which happens with alarming frequency as age advances), my first resort
is to look for a pressure point. This strategy has led to remarkable successes.
A couple of months ago a new back pain came out of the blue
that was so debilitating I found myself walking bent forward. Using the ball
technique I was not able to find a pressure point. However, under further
direction by Allan, I was able to locate one, first by swinging my arm behind
me and exploring with my knuckles, and then quite simply with a finger. Another
miracle ensued. Simply by pressing and kneading the point with my finger for
two or three seconds, the back pain vanished and I was an upright man again. It
was as if I were a robot with a console on the back and had only to push a button
on it to change my posture (and feelings if robots have any).
The most recent episode has been a dreary ache when I bend my
elbow. This seemed to have settled in for the duration. It was also spreading ominously
into my hand. I could not imagine where a pressure point might be. But again the
spirit of experiment (and the desire for pain relief) chipped in. I Googled for
some stretches to try. One of them involved bending one hand back or forward with
the other hand. This seemed to help. So I kept at it.
Then one day while out for a walk I decided to fiddle with
my hands since there was nothing else to do (like typing as I am now and so
much of the day!) and, lo and behold, I discovered an exquisitely painful spot
near the base of my fourth finger. I rubbed it with a finger of my other hand
for two or three seconds. Bingo! The elbow pain vanished … and for the rest of
So this has all got me thinking that there must be a whole
world of therapy out there that doctors (and medical researchers) in the Western
tradition seem mostly to ignore or be ignorant of and could even find
threatening. I would expect the vast majority of them would prescribe pain meds
to deal with these pains, perhaps also physical therapy, but never think to
suggest hunting for pressure points.
Although I must also acknowledge that my doctor did just that
sort of thing when I came to him with dizzy spells a year ago. He gave me a
quick checkup to determine that there was nothing “wrong” with me. Then he suggested
that I Google “Epley Maneuver.” There I found some written instructions, which
seemed a tad complicated; so I typed the name into YouTube and watched a few
videos that showed how to do it. These varied widely in quality and also in how
big a deal the therapy had to be, one even suggesting wearing a neck brace. But
in short order I discovered one that made it simple and easy by Peter Johns. I tried
it. It took just five minutes. After that I never had another dizzy
Could all of our
ills be amenable to analogous treatments? Could we close the hospitals and put
the doctors and researchers out of business? I doubt that. But I also see no limit
to how much we might attempt to replace them. Probably what is called for here,
as everywhere, is a balance.
Also not to be neglected are changes of lifestyle, which can
also serve a preventive and not only curative purpose.* Thus, not only have I
found pressure points to help me with my back and elbow and hand pains and
stiffness, but I’ve also been experimenting with my keyboard habits, beginning
with monitoring and cutting down the hours, setting up my work station so
that I have the option of standing or kneeling and not always
sitting at the computer, purchasing an ergonomic chair, minimizing repetitive actions with the
mouse by learning keyboard shortcuts, etc.
But it all began with pain … the pain that stimulated this
journey … and, most of all, the blessed pain of the pressure points!
* Indeed, Dr.
David L. Katz maintains that we could eliminate 80 percent of our major
medical ills by simple lifestyle changes, namely, eat right, exercise, and don’t
OK, this is not a new theory of the Trump Presidency. From the very first it was speculated that he had become an accidental president, never expecting to win and perhaps not even wanting to, but with some ulterior motive most likely linked to marketing the Trump brand in his future business dealings. Of course there were also darker murmurings (and indications) that he was a Manchurian candidate … perhaps even an unintentional and totally befuddled one more along the lines of Being There . But Trump’s behavior since losing the election to Biden has been (and continues to be as I write) so off the wall, so seemingly intended to make him look as bad and bonkers and just plain pathetic as possible, as to suggest, and indeed support another theory I myself (along with others, no doubt) had entertained from the very start, which is that he’s doing it just for a joke, just for the sport. Basically he wants to see just how far somebody can go in putting one over on people.
Most of the COVID deaths in Connecticut have been in, or of residents and staff of, nursing homes and the like. Nationwide the figure is two fifths. This makes sense because of the concentration of older and infirm individuals in extended care facilities. Furthermore, life in these settings has been unutterably grim, since no visitors were allowed for months, and I imagine even the residents could no longer commingle because of the very high risk of contagion of their fellow most vulnerable. Could there be a more stark vision of hell? It is also now clear that the driving force for these figures is the rate of infection in the surrounding community. The connection is not mysterious: The virus will be introduced into the nursing home environment, already primed for contagion by its demographics, by staff who spend the rest of their lives in the larger community, including with their own families, who also circulate in it. These two observations lead me to off