Category Archives: Medicine, Health, Food

#manmovement

If you looked at the title of this post, you probably thought,

“Man, this guy is totally a chauvinist.”

Or…

“This guy has some serious huevos to be writing on this!”

Well, I am here to tell you that none of that is true.  My goal in this life is to become self-realized and share the love of God with every person I meet. BUT, I happen to be a man and kind of enjoy it!  What I enjoy being about a man is probably the same for every other male, but there are some very stereotypical things particular to me, that I feel have helped me get ahead in this world. These characteristics, I feel, allowed people, patients, and clients to warm up to me easier than other aspects.

Here’s what’s typical (and funny):

  • you don’t have to remember everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries
  • you could wear the same thing every day and it is TOTALLY acceptable
  • you get a ton of of extra credit for being slightly thoughtful
  • you can whip off your shirt on a hot day and not be arrested for it
  • you could be losing your hair, have gone totally gray, or have a beer gut, and still be considered sexy

Those above aspects are truly funny and truly true!  Below are the aspects that I feel have gotten me ahead in the world.  Without them, I would have to work much harder to gain people’s admiration and trust. (I think.)

Besides being male…

  • I am white
  • I am bald
  • I am fully bearded with some graying
  • I love Jesus
  • I am a US citizen
  • I am married to a beautiful woman
  • I have no kids

Based on the aspects above, I have the greatest privilege in the world, I look experienced, but still have the vigor of someone in their prime.  I fit the religious mold that everyone accepts around me, I am heterosexual, and married to someone extremely good-looking (red-head, can’t beat it).  Finally, I have no kids, which allows me more free time to do what I want, when I want, without the frustration of worrying about finances, scarring my children emotionally with constant moving, or having to extend myself beyond the boundaries of my wife and I.

All in all, I feel like I fit the mold perfectly.  But, because of this, I have decided to break the mold of the average male and be involved with:

  • barbershop quartets (still pretty manly I think)
  • partner dancing including: West Coast Swing, Lindy Hop, and Ballroom
  • attendance at musicals, ballets, and the orchestra
  • involving my time and attention with children’s movies, Disney movies, romance, drama, and whatever else the wife is watching
  • practicing yoga, meditation, and writing books on both!
  • and sometimes… when I was in medical school, stressed to the max, I learned to crochet, so I could occupy my ADHD brain, while still attempting to relax

OK, so there you have it.  I like being male, because it has gotten me ahead in the world, but it has also has given me an opportunity to go beyond the limits of a normal, middle-aged, white-male stereotype.  All in all, I am pretty blessed!

Can it get any better?  Hm.  Something to ponder for another day.

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Christian Health Insurance

Why is it so difficult in this country of ours (United States) to get healthcare that is reasonable?!?

And why is it that affordable healthcare can be provided by alternative “Christian” or non-denominational organizations, but no one else?

Well… that is why I am here– to give you an idea of what I have gone through with this insurance thing.

I am now almost 33 years old and since I was 27, I have been off my parents insurance.  Now, thankfully, I haven’t had any mishaps in my health (and I continue to pray that I don’t), but I think it is time for me to actually have healthcare!

To think that man like myself, a naturopathic/chiropractic physician, wouldn’t have paid for healthcare until now.  As my body gets older (and my mind younger!), I realize that something catastrophic may eventually happen, and it is essential that I have proper healthcare in the case that it happens.

I mean, going through a catastrophic accident, can bankrupt you, and ultimately will if you no assets or extra cash to fall back on.

MY SITUATION

Well, currently, this is my situation – bankruptcy could be possible because of my lack of assets and cash flow.

I was born into a middle-class family with 4 other brothers and sisters.  My father was the only person working full-time.  At that time, I didn’t really understand the value of a dollar or the benefits of saving – or even how to save!

Long story short, when I went into medical school, I had zero debt, but I had zero savings with a beater car. When I got out of school, I had over 300K in education debt (2 medical doctorates), no savings, very little assets, and practically the same beater car. Very little positive change in income occurred in those 6 years of medical school.

With no training or understanding of how to start, let alone run a business, I taught at a community college, worked side jobs as a chiropractor, and eventually traveled overseas with my wife (who also has few assets) to teach English in China. When I returned, I realized that I needed to suck it up and work for someone else, because I was never going to figure this thing out alone!

HEALTHCARE DISCOVERY

Again… long story short, at the end of this year (2016), I knew I needed to have healthcare.  My employers were chipping in, but it wasn’t enough to cover the basic essentials.  At $300 a month, I would get a $7,000 deductible, and even after that was paid, sometimes only 50% of the total cost would be paid after the deductible was met. This was depending upon the plan I chose.

Even if I paid at $700 a month, the deductible was still around $3000 and I would still not get everything covered afterwards… what a predicament!  How could I invest, what I perceived to be a TON of money into a system, that I thought would not work well for my particular situation?  Do I suck it up and just take the huge hit on my income and pray nothing would happen?  Or is there something better?

DISCLAIMER: These are my personal opinions and I try to be as objective as possible.  If I am wrong, let me know and I will change what I have written here.  And generally let me know if you can prove it through personal experience or physical proof, otherwise the information in this blog post will stay the same. Again, I don’t have all the information and it would best for you to call them and ask all the questions I have suggested below, along with your own.

CHRISTIAN HEALTH SHARING

Through my research, I discovered Christian Health Sharing organizations.  I found good ones, bad ones, and ones I wasn’t sure about it.  Below I am going to provide those to you, with my own short opinions on why.

The GOOD ones:

  1. Samaritan
  2. Liberty Health Share

The BAD ones:

  1. Medi-Share

The ones I am NOT sure of:

  1. CHM
  2. Samaritan
  3. Medical Cost Share (MCS)

SAMARITAN – http://samaritanministries.org

This one seems to be the most talked about, the most loved, and the most respected out of the forums that I read. Here are the finer points that I discovered:

  • anything under $300 is paid out-of-pocket no matter what
  • anything over $300 is generally shared (as long as it meets what they believe can be shared)
  • you first have to haggle with the healthcare people to get discounts for the best rate FIRST before having the ministry reimburse you
  • this group is also more strict on what has to be believed to be a part of their group (shared religious beliefs)
  • I believe you need a piece of paper signed saying that you are indeed an active member of church community, signed by your minister/reverend/pastor – this part, I was not so keen on, because my wife and I just moved to Billings, MT and we are NOT members of any church. This is why I was unsure of it. The question is: Can they deny you, just because you don’t believe exactly as they believe? I was not willing to find out.
  • also the payment checks you send in as a part of your “shared” amount goes towards the person that needs it… this is a challenging aspect that was harder for me to accept
  • also limited reimbursement of injuries
  • read more on this one for your own benefit

CHM (Christian Healthcare Ministries) – http://www.chministries.org 

Initially this group I wanted to be a part of because of their prices, but after looking further I discovered these things:

  • plans are variable, but range from $45 to $200 a month – good plans for sure!
  • covers less conditions and situations
  • no alternative treatments covered
  • very open about how they practice their business – a plus! – full PDF can be downloaded (I have noticed the other groups aren’t as open)
  • good plan for members of a church who have a big family and can’t spend as much, but still need coverage
  • been around for 35 years
  • requires you to haggle and gets discounts on your own, but have a tendency to benefit  you later
  • no dental, vision, and wellness visits not covered
  • more restrictive religious covenants – may need a signed statement of faith
  • this group was formerly called CBL (Christian Brotherhood Letter) – this link will show that and lots of mismanagement that was going on with CBL in 2000 before they changed their name to CHM: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-02-23/membership-for-health-sharing-ministries-soars-under-obamacare
  • limits are less on what they cover, especially if you don’t get the extra add-on “brother’s keeper”
  • can cover midwives
  • do accept pre-existing conditions
  • ONLY Gold plan allows visits from places other than hospitals!
  • Maternity is generally covered more greatly in the Gold plan, and much less in the Silver and Bronze plans
  • many more details not covered – download their PDF to learn more!

LIBERTY HEALTH SHARE – http://www.libertyhealthshare.org

  • $200 is max amount per person per month
  • ~$100 annual fee due every year
  • everything is automated – no haggling for discounts required
  • least deductible offered is at $500 that needs to be paid first before anything is reimbursed
  • dental, vision, wellness visits, alternative care covered at higher premiums at reduced costs
  • difference between premiums is around $20 per person at best
  • less restrictive religious covenants – doesn’t need a signed statement of faith
  • been around for 21 years
  • all around it seems like you get the most for nearly the least
  • the only thing I have heard negative is that they were associated at one time with the Christian Brotherhood Letter which had some financial mishandling. (READ ABOVE)
  • Sharing Guidelines – http://www.libertyhealthshare.org/content/Sharing-Guidelines.pdf

MEDI-SHARE – https://mychristiancare.org/medi-share/

MEDICAL COST SHARING – http://www.medicalcostshare.com/

In all of these groups:

  • there are NO guarantees that they will pay what they say they will pay … sounds like the reality of conventional insurance companies, right?
  • all of them require a Christian belief system to some degree – some more strict than others
  • they are NOT insurance
  • you are NOT a policy holder
  • all are ACA-compliant – meaning they will prevent you from having a tax penalty from the government (check on this for sure by calling them)
  • Some say that any group that is NOT Samaritan may come under fire of the government, but most of these companies have been around for at least 20 years. So we will see!
  • motorcycle accidents are generally NOT covered because they are considered a hobby, unless you use them everyday for transportation and I think you need to be wearing a helmet – you will have to check this!
  • all of them have pros and cons, just like conventional health insurance

Questions that are best to ask the people at these organizations:

  1. How do I know if something is going to be covered?
  2. Where does the money get sent to? The person, organization, and how does it get disbursed?
  3. How do you determine if someone doesn’t fit the beliefs that you think aren’t right? (Signed letter of confirmation, your word, etc.)
  4. How often have you not been able to pay a bill?
  5. What if there is not enough money to pay for a particular bill?
  6. How many members do you have?
  7. Any reimbursement difference between in and out of network doctors, difference in cost, covered or not?
  8. Are motorcycle accidents covered?
  9. How long have you been in business?
  10. Do you offer dental and vision plans?
  11. Are wellness visits and tests included?
  12. Do I have to be a church member of the place I am attending?
  13. Is this plan ACA-compliant?
  14. Do pre-existing conditions make me ineligible?
  15. How do I know I won’t be rejected if a treatment isn’t morally objectionable? – this means if it is considered “morally” wrong, will it not be covered
  16. Are you pre-pay/self-pay before reimbursement is given?
  17. Are natural/alternative treatments provided?
  18. Do you accept all Christian faiths?

MORE RESOURCES

Ultimately… if takes faith in this process for it work.  I have heard many good things about these organizations, and I think this will be my next faithful financial plunge.

Whatever you decide to do, remember that God is always with you.  Whether you believe that or not, does not matter. For the Divine is always watching every single one of us.

God bless and good luck!

Dr. Derek

P.S. If anything is inaccurate, please let me know and I will change it!

Eating Boredom: One Chunk at a Time

China Memoirs #8

The best and worst thing about being in another country is the onset of boredom.  No matter where you are, boredom can be a killer.  Currently it is morning in China, where I am teaching ESL.  My wife is passed out in bed and I… well I awoke with a feeling of being bored.  I mean… shoot!  I am in another country two days after the Chinese New Year!  Should I not be out having a gay ‘ol time enjoying myself raucously?!?  Frankly… I just have never been that type of man, and I am not going to start now :0

My wife and I decided originally to go to China to have a new experience with each other.  We literally got married the month before we left for China.  Most people thought we were off our rockers, but we took that as a sign that we were doing the right thing.  Being in China during one’s first year in marriage offers quite a bit of stories to be remembered.   We wanted to have an ADVENTURE.  I mean… our song for our marriage recessional (walking back down the aisle) was the theme song for Indiana Jones.  We knew what we were getting ourselves into.

One thing, I think that everyone forgets, that no matter where you are boredom can always sneak it’s way in. This time in China was to be considered like a cheaply paid vacation.  We’re not getting paid much here, but it is like 7 times that of most teachers and people living in China.  Essentially we live like kings and queens in some way.  Go on… be mildly jealous of us 🙂  On top of that we are paid a month’s salary during our one month vacation in China, plus travel bonuses if we stay the entire 9 to 10 months.  We traveled to the south of China where it was warmer on our vacation away from our teaching-ESL-vacation.  Now we are back having a vacation away from South China vacation on our teaching-ESL-vacation.  That third vacation can really offer some huge levels of boredom.  However, it is Sunday here in China.  We are currently 13-16 hours ahead of everyone in the United States.  If they had the Super Bowl here in China I would even have a party, but we have no TV to speak of… well we do, if you can fluently understand Mandarin Chinese 🙂

So now my dilemma is what do I do, now that I am bored.  Don’t  worry.. I could do:

  1. Taxes:  not sure if I will be able to file them in April, now that I am in another country… so that one may have to wait and file an extension
  2. Preparing for new standards of medical practice when I arrive home to the U.S.:  Not looking forward to this.  May have to wait for a sweet little seminar to give me all the goods on this one.  I could talk to friends.  However I need to wait at least 4-5 months to see how Obamacare really turns out!
  3. Traveling: the wife says no for now.  She is content with staying in our apartment, playing solitaire on the computer and watching movies.  We really are two old fogies… if only I had a cane and some serious gray hair, I could really complete the ensemble.
  4. Meditation: When you are bored, it is much harder to meditate… especially when you go to sleep at 2am in the morning and wake up at 10:30am.  Go ahead, feel bad for me… all you workaholics out there are really diggin’ that one, aren’t you?!?
  5. Eating:  This is ultimately what I was coming to.  I eat, when I am bored.  I usually eat so much that my brains pop out the other end, leading to buyer’s remorse and a really upset stomach.

This is where the challenge arises for me.  Boredom isn’t so bad when there really are things to do.  Eventually, a person like myself (being a physician with 2 doctorates) will find something to do.  I am not tooting my own horn, but it takes a serious amount of motivation to complete one medical doctorate, let alone two.  I am just a academic-glutton-for-punishment.  All-in-all, I will find something to do, even if it causes mild destruction to my body.  For me, it was eating foods to the extreme.  Thank God that I am strongly intolerant to wheat and gluten.  I also have a moderate allergy to milk and other milk products, so that eliminates a lot of foods that I can gorge myself on.  Also, any MSG products that are named in this list…

http://www.msgtruth.org/avoid.htm

OR in this list… http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources.html  This is my favorite list, as it points out all of the food one wouldn’t think would have MSG in it.  The food industries of the world try to sneak it into everything!

OR in this list… http://www.msgfacts.com/nutrition/what_foods_are_glutamate-rich.aspx  This one is special in a way where it literally points out all the major foods with “free” glutamate.  These foods generally cause people problems with food intolerances. I would say, all those foods on this list are probably not the best for me, save for a few.

Ultimately, there are a lot of foods I won’t eat, because this body just spits them right back out.  BUT… there are still a lot of foods I can eat, and those I eat in ABUNDANCE.  It takes a man of true self-realization to maintain that balance (I am unfortunately not there yet, otherwise I would not be talking about this…).

So… what do I do when I get bored?  I eat.  Those that know me, understand that for me to eat, means nothing, because there is not much there.  If there is something sweet or salty to eat, those I eat first! Fortunately for me, everything salty in this country has MSG in it. That includes potato chips and other salty morsels of the same.  Those I can steer clear of. Things that are sweet in this country, primarily include Chocolate. Mmmmmmmm. Chocolate….  Gotta watch out for that chocolate.  Some has possible MSG in it, like Kinder Bueno.  My gut had a field day after eating that junk.  Dove does pretty decent chocolate here, so that isn’t too bad, unless one eats like 3-4 bars at time, plus other things.  It generally leads to a no-good situation and lots of abdominal pain.  There is also fruit… the fruit is abundant and fills up my tummy… FAST. Which is a good thing, but can still mess with my blood sugar.   Uh… woe-is-me.

Alas, here I am in China, debating on the food I will eat today.  Is it because it is Super Bowl Sunday here in China and I am already sensing my comrades-in-arms ready to do battle on their chili-bean dips, tortilla chips, guacamole (which does not exist in China), pizza, and every other delectable thing conjured by man?!?  That… could… be.

I am very sensitive to my family back home and picking up their vibrations is commonplace.  But could I also be picking up their desires to eat mass quantities of foods while watching men in seemingly iron-clad uniforms beat up on each other for the pure enjoyment of others???  This could be as well.

Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday Family!  See you soon!

:Derek

Wo ai cha!

1024px-China_-_Chengdu_22_-_green_tea_(140902695)

 

China Memoirs #7

“Wo ai cha!” means, “I love tea!” literally in Mandarin Chinese spelled in pinyin.  Green tea is a popular drink in the land of China, both mainland and the associated regions of Hong Kong and Macau.  There are many varieties, 80% of which comes from the mainland of China itself.

Currently my wife, Jessie and I are imbibing a scrumptious and delectable drink called lucha (lew cha).  This the essential Chinese name for green tea on the mainland and specifically in Mandarin.  It also has Jasmine flower mixed in, to sweeten the bitter edge that can be associated with green teas.

My wife still loves her guihua (gway hwah) or osmanthus tea so much more, but when we decide to mix both the guihua and lucha together… well that is a party no one would forget 😉

Well… today is a day of relaxation.  With that I bid you adieu.

:Derek

China Memoirs #5

Today I want to talk a little about Osmanthus fragrans.

This is a little known flowering plant of Japan, China, and, surprisingly, the United States.  It has many properties that help detox the body and strengthen its constitution.

The reason why I want to say a little diddy about this plant is because it is VERY popular in China.  The Chinese people put it in cakes and other sweet treats, besides the average use as a tea.  It can also be put into stews, soups, and mixed in with facials for the ladies (or the men that want exuberant-looking skin…).  Currently I am drinking it as a tea mixed with some Jasmine and green tea to help flush my own liver, whiten my teeth, and to improve lung health. China’s small and large cities/towns are polluted with either dirt or industry pollution and our lung constitutions are constantly being challenged.  These teas are considered essential living as a laowei (foreigner) in Asian cities.

This website: http://www.divineglowinghealth.com/the-amazing-benefits-of-osmanthus-flowers/ does a nice job of explaining its benefits.  The Wikipedia sites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osmanthus and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osmanthus_fragrans do this plant little justice.  However, this is what one can expect from an herb that is little researched in the western world, because it is traditionally used as a folk medicine in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  On the second wikipedia site, there are two research articles done to show some of its benefits.

IMG_7025

Hope you enjoy reading this!

Peace to the Asian East!

Derek

The China Memoirs #3

So… what to write about…

I discovered something really fantastic actually!  In China, where I am, just outside of Shanghai, they have a wide array of wonderful tasting foods from all over the world.  One in particular, that is really very tasty is Kinder Bueno.  It is a milk chocolate bar with a hazelnut filling.  It is made by an Italian company called “Ferrero.”  One has to wonder how something so small could taste so delightfully wonderful as this little morsel.

The one problem I currently have with this fantastic treat.. well I actually have two problems with it.  It has to do with its ingredients.

  1. It contains wheat flour: Wheat flour is the literally the devil for anyone that has a wheat allergy that is either a sensitivity or truly a celiac condition.  In either case, processed wheat flour has been known to cause a lot problems in the gut.  Mostly causing inflammation to those who have a delayed hypersensitivity reaction.  It is delayed in the way where one can eat it (like myself), feel pretty good for the first hour, but then start to feel really shiesty (that’s right… “shiesty” is a word in Dr. D’s Dictionary).  One could experience all sorts of symptoms including brain fog, fatigue, aches and pain, headaches, and etc., etc., etc.
  2. It also contains vanillin: Vanillin is a very sneaky little ingredient.  If it is synthetic, it has been said to contain MSG and possibly wheat gluten if the the alcohol that made it, contained wheat grain.  As if gluten was bad enough, MSG has been proposed as a neurotoxin, tricking the brain to eat more.  Although there is officially no list showing vanillin as a MSG-culprit, it appears that vanillin can cause negative effects in people including allergic reactions and migraine headaches.

Here is a link proving adverse effects: Vanillin

Here is another link showing many of the sources of:  MSG

I said I would try to write something everyday, BUT tomorrow I am going to the south of China with my wife.  Let us see, if we can still make this thing happen.

OM, Peace, and Amen my fine friends,

Derek