All I can say is that I absolutely love this—it’s worth taking 17 minutes to watch. It seems to reiterate that all I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten! Nothing beats transparency and honesty.
Finding a New Primary Care Doctor
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How many of us struggle with addiction? I will be bold and say the number must be 90% or above. I refer to addiction as anything that we can’t live without or obsess over–including tobacco, caffeine, sugar, drugs, alcohol, sex, bad relationships, negative thinking, impulsive behavior etc—I personally have kicked my diet mountain dew habit (it only took about a year) and like everyone else, I struggle daily with overcoming more unhealthy habits. It certainly isn’t easy! I am honored that my cohort addiction specialist, the infamous Mr. Jim Ryser, has privileged us with his own story to help us understand how diet, nutrition, thoughts, and mindset can heal addictive behaviors.
First-Here is a little background on Jim Ryser:
Jim Ryser began his music career at the tender age of 5 years old, learning to play violin to ease long hours spent in the hospital. Born with Spina Bifida Myelomeningocele and expected to live a poor quality and short life, Jim beat the odds due to a loving and caring family combined with an Irish tenacity that continues to this day.
Jim honed his musical skills during the recovery from over 50 surgeries he has had to correct problems associated with the original corrective procedure on his spinal cord when he was 9 days old.
He played Madison Square Garden as a solo violinist when he was 9, but it was picking up the guitar at 14 that took him down the music path of rock and roll dreams. “I played a lot of Rush and Pink Floyd, but I loved Fleetwood Mac and other more mellow rockers as well,” he says, “and I think that combined with my classical background made for some interesting stuff over the years!”
He signed his first record deal with Arista Records in 1990. Music legend Clive Davis was heading up the label at the time and told Jim – then known as Jimmy – that he had hit songs and wanted Jim on the roster. “Same Old Look,” the first single released in 1990, reached #6 on the Billboard chart and sent he and his band on a wild summer tour with The Moody Blues, Henry Lee Summer, REO Speedwagon, and John Mellencamp. He has played on some wonderful albums with John Mellencamp, Hall and Oates, and Tracy Chapman. He has guested with James McMurtry, Henry Lee Summer, and Bob and Tom over the years.
His health issues forced him to find another path; he had become addicted to his pain killers to combat the daily chronic pain associated with his spina bifida and related kidney, back, and orthopedic issues. Jim went through a pain program at the Cleveland Clinic and was able to learn new ways to deal with pain, such that he was inspired to acquire his college degree. His addiction, however, lay hidden and by the time he graduated Indiana University Summa Cum Laude, he was on some of the same drugs that led to Michael Jackson’s demise, using up to 500 mg of IV Demerol and taking 10-20 percocet pills a day. He hit bottom when he started drinking.
He went back to Cleveland and got sober in the summer of 1999, which led him to his graduate degree and an internship with addiction and pain. His specialty is rare in that he knows both chronic pain and addiction personally and professionally, and this combination led him to his current position as the program manager for pain services at Indiana University Health Methodist Hosptial in Indianapolis, Indiana. He runs a pain rehabilitation program there and he also helps people with acute pain issues while further helping others who have become iatrogenically addicted.
He got back into music quite by accident, and he says, “I got into hunting with my son-in-law Troy, getting a turkey on my very first day in the woods – an hour after he got his. I found that hunting did more for my pain management than anything else I ever did, so I spent time learning about deer hunting as well.” This journey led him to Bill Winke, one of the best known hunter-writers in the business. “I sent Bill a CD of my music in appreciation for the amazing work he does, and he asked if he could use some songs for his show, Midwest Whitetail. I told him I would go one better and write some songs…Now I am the principal writer for most of Bill’s projects!
This match created a great relationship with the entire staff and lots of new songs, which then led to Jim updating his recording studio and investing in some more gear to custom design songs for Bill’s shows exclusively. These songs hatched more ideas, and a new CD was born. The new disc highlighted on this website is a culmination of Jim’s musical life, and he says, “Having many years of sobriety now, a deep love for both work and my hunting/music passion, gave me something that very few folks get – and I wasn’t even supposed to live. I have remained on an incredible journey that makes me grateful for my pain and addiction, because they made me who I am today.”
Jim Ryser is a nationally recognized performer and speaker for both his musical and personal journey, and his expertise in managing pain for those who desire education about it. He has spoken all over the country and has consulted with several health care systems on various ways to manage pain without the use of mood altering drugs.
Here is Jim’s personal story that he chose to share with our followers that are empowering themselves to overcome disease–
“I wish I could say I “beat” addiction, but I can no more do that than stand on my toes unaided today. I have myelomeningocele. Long story short, I have damage to my spinal cord that resulted in neural connections being cut due to the original birth defect. There ARE no connections so it is physiologically impossible for me to stand on my toes unaided!
As to my addiction, we have assumed in society that we can change unaided too; telling a drug addict not to use is the same thing as saying “Just don’t breathe!” The addict has a compulsion to use and a craving once started that makes it impossible to stop on the basis of self-will. There is no connection just like with the nerves!
I have been fortunate to have stopped using drugs aberrantly. The thought process of the disease never goes away, but it can be managed. I found that out after I got sober and gained 50 pounds. My addiction switched seats on the titanic in many ways. So – for me, addiction is less about substance and more about the thoughts and the spiritual malady that goes with it. Moderation is not part of the addict’s vocabulary. With help, however, I have been able to stay sober for the past 14 years. I have also lost the weight and am continuing, a day at a time, to manage the unmanageable. Having a proper diet helps keep me on task with my pain pill addiction and chronic pain because I learned in proper eating habits I might sacrifice a “feel good” with food (sugar) that results in a crash that makes me feel bad in the long run. Today I have learned to slow down, do the RIGHT thing, and be rewarded over the long haul (and more consistent haul) with good health and overall good feeling.”
Please visit Jim’s website http://www.jimrysersongs.com
You may want to purchase a copy of his latest release “Lubricate my MoJo”
His next performance will be:
June 29, 2013
I can’t thank Jim enough for his honesty and committment to helping others in similar situations. I have come across a few other different resources for anyone who would like to learn more on the topic.
This video by Paul Chek is helpful in learning why we become addicted to things—
It’s a bit long but helpful to anyone wanting to learn more about the etiology of addiction.
Also, a great resource is well-known psychiatrist’s Dr Hyla Cass’s book—
Dr Hyla Cass—Overcome Addiction, Fatigue, Anxiety, and Depression Naturally
For all of you who enjoyed the previous post about suicide prevention –see the post HERE. Here is a quick update on Lucy and Maggie’s story: Lucy (Maggie’s childhood friend) and my dear friend got her 1st tattoo this weekend. Her parents weren’t keen on the idea but told her that she could get one when she turned 18. Lucy (now 18) got her first tattoo in honor of Maggie’s favorite Shakespeare quote!
“The course of true love never did run smooth”
Maggie’s spirit continues to live on in so many of us that hardly even knew her. Some spirits just leave their mark in this way.
Wayne Dyer says that we are spiritual souls inhabiting a human existence and I can’t help to believe that when I experience such profound emotion over a child I barely knew. We were obviously soulful connections.
It’s strange but this last week has been filled with interesting circumstances and spirit filled interactions that I am compelled to share. Some of these were some pretty incredible near death experience stories.
One of my favorites is the minister that had a fatal car accident. His car was a literal accordion and he was pronounced dead on the scene after being hit by a semi. The paramedic’s tried to get him out of the car for approximately 2 hours.
A man (also a minister) pulled up to the scene and asked the medics if he could climb in the car and pray for the man. He had driven by and felt a sudden inclination to pray for the accident victim.
Annoyed, the medics told him that the victim had been dead for over 2 hours but they eventually allowed him to enter the scene. The minister climbed in while the medic continued to work at getting the dead man out. The minister prayed over the shoulder of the man he could not see for about 10 minutes. After around 10 minutes, the man began to sing “What a friend we have in Jesus”. He had no idea why, but he felt compelled to sing. Then —– he heard another voice chime in and thought how wonderful it was that a medic was singing with him. He stopped and the voice continued. Suddenly, the shoulder he was holding began to move.—
Yes- the victim was singing! The medics continued to work feverishly at this point and as they pulled the victim out of the car, the minister realized that it was his best friend.
I have a patient in the last 12 years whose spirit honestly connected with mine. We were kindred spirits right at the beginning of our journey together. The story about Ric is so amazing that I struggle to put words to its content. Ric was diagnosed with cancer just about a year after my conscience decision to transform my practice into a nutritional/functional health approach. He was 100% on board to heal himself of his disease and was confident and supportive of the unconventional decision that I had made. There was no judgement-he supported me unconditionally. He lost weight, ate right, and Damn-he even watched the CRAZY SEXY CANCER video in the office with me! I was thrilled to have a patient listen and I was sure he was cured after his chemo and radiation. He claimed that the Cancer would never win the War.
Unfortunately, Ric died this last year. I had the opportunity of seeing his brother whom was his caregiver throughout his final days. On Friday, we spoke of a dream that his kindred spirited brother had before his final days. The dream was as follows and is paraphrased of course. He saw his brother in his most healthy, strong, and happy states the first two nights. He was mid 20’s, smiling, robust, and full of energy and vitality. On the third night, his brother looking wonderful, sat with friends and family and announced that cancer won the battle but he won the war.
His brother was confused by this notion, however, the day after Ric’s life here had ceased—-His brother looked back on the tired, cancer ridden body lying in a hospital bed spiritless and realize that it was all true. Cancer did win the battle –but the spirit of Ric had certainly won the war and left some pitiful remains—–
Ok–I’m going to admit a deep dark secret now that I have finally kicked the habit. Up until about 5 months ago, I was drinking up to four diet mountain dews a day!! I popped one first thing in the am. I then cracked another for my 45 minute commute into work. Of course, when I got to work, I needed something to sip on and help me get started. And last but not least, lunchtime required another hit of the vice because I would be starting to drag. I wasn’t worried about the sugar because it was DIET. What I didn’t realize was that the artificial sweeteners + aspartame + caffeine was even worse for me. I watched the documentary “Hungry for Change” and was flabbergasted that what I had been doing was so incredibly toxic to my body. No wonder I felt like crap! I can honestly say that it took some time and effort to wean the habit. I started by telling myself that I could have 20 cans a day as long as I drank a glass of water between doses of my chemical romance. That helped me wean down to 1-2 a day. After months of affirmations in my mirror, (I am not an addict. I am healthy and alive) replaced the drug with unsweetened iced tea. I only have one glass (maybe two on a particularly busy day) of tea that I make at home without any artificial ingredients. I have to admit–I really don’t miss the stuff. If I can do it–you can too. I wish I could get a five month sober medal just to represent my strength!! Maybe I’ll start a DEW-Aholic group!! Watch this cute little animated video that highlights some of the dangers of this addictive drug.
A few posts ago-we shared Jim Ryser’s success story of overcoming addiction and empowering himself to teach and counsel others. If you missed that post you can see it HERE. The cycle is so true. I don’t think I can honestly think of anyone that doesn’t have addiction to overcome. Negative thinking, food, chemicals, exercise, self-abuse are only a few that we encounter daily. Dee has been struggling with her issues with sugar and she writes—
I’ve been contemplating addiction the past few days, considering the cycle of the way that people deal with emotional discomfort by masking pain through the consumption of _________ (fill in the blank). I have filled my blank in with food. Last night I became so angry at a situation in my home that it took everything in me to not eat or drink. Food (and chemicals) distract us. Even if these crutches of ours are not mind altering, they are always mood altering.
It is easy for me to look at that circle of addiction with alcohol or drugs because I am thankfully not addicted to those things. I see that people feel pain, use things to not feel pain temporarily, physical effects wear off, pain comes back, need for another drink/dose. The routine never stops until the issue is worked through and dealt with in a more healthy and productive manner.
But then I look at my addiction, which is food, and because this is closer to home, it’s hard to see as clearly how to break the chain. One technique that I think works for many people is to write down their emotions and food-related impulses. This one for me last night was clear as could be. I was about to go to sleep and didn’t feel the least bit hungry. After the chaos subsided a bit, I walked into the kitchen for the sole purpose of finding the worst possible food choice on hand to consume quickly and mindlessly. Thankfully, I realized the irrelevance of how eating would make me happy and I turned myself around. What did make me happy, this morning, was seeing an overall seven pound weight loss on the scale for the month of August.
This long-term reward will ultimately be more gratifying that a bag of Doritos would have been last night.
For more pearls from Dee visit her site HERE