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January 16, 2013

9 lbs, 3 oz of Pure Adorable!

Baby David Cash  was born January 6 at 10:09 am to proud mommy Jana Ward! We’re thrilled mommy and baby are doing well! And that face? Priceless!  🙂

Baby Cash

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joy

Yep, JOY pretty much sums it up! Congratulations Jana!

January 15, 2013

Do upcoming labor pains scare Jana? Doesn’t look like it! When we first started following Jana’s pregnancy, we knew her journey would be a fun one to watch and she sure didn’t let us down. These amazing pre-baby belly pics perfectly show off her fun, down-to-earth and completely fearless personality. We love it!

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Jana Can Do Attitude Pregnancy Jana pregnancy - smiling Psalm 139:13 pregnant belly Jana pregnant Jana Pregnant and Smiling Jana laughing

Scientific Nonsense

My physics classmates and I were studying for freshman exams when our professor introduced a new subject. “Retrograde motion” is the term used to describe the motion of the planets in the night sky. The apparent backward-looping paths are due to the planets’ orbit positions around the sun.

Because ancient peoples believed all heavenly bodies revolve around the earth, they devised convoluted reasons for what they could see in the sky. The math required was incredibly complicated – undoubtedly because the planets did not, in fact, revolve around the earth.

Full of resentment, I returned to my dorm room to study my notes on abandoned explanations for “Retrograde Motion.” It seemed to me that college physics was hard enough without having to learn something somebody else had figured out wasn’t true. As a premedical student I needed to get an A in this class – and all my others. What was the purpose of making me learn nonsense?

Science is a powerful tool that helps us make sense of the world. Every decision I make for my patients is based upon a foundation of scientific evidence. But years of medical practice have also shown me that science has its limitations. For one thing, medical understanding is continually evolving. A hundred years ago, bacteria and viruses were unknown to humans. Thirty years ago, minimally invasive surgery didn’t exist. The understanding of today will change tomorrow.

Science describes and measures things in the physical world. Blood pressure or cholesterol can be measured, infections diagnosed, and tumors discovered. Science provides the medications or surgeries to help our bodies get well. But health is about more than just the body. How do you measure a person’s happiness or fulfillment? Can you weigh a person’s faith or how much they love their neighbors?

Some argue you can.

Diagnoses Outside the Realm of Medicine

Jill had been on antidepressants for eight years when I first met her. Her doctor had first prescribed the medication in Jill’s last year of college. She had been distraught because her fiancé had cheated on her. A few years later, she had met someone else and was now happily married. They wanted to have children, but antidepressants are known to cause birth defects – and Jill was addicted.

It took six months to safely wean Jill from her medication before it was safe to conceive. I wondered why medication had been started in the first place. She was confused about this herself.

There are many drugs available to treat depression, anxiety, and diseases – with names like “attention deficit disorder” and “bipolar syndrome.“ Are these really problems of the body, classified along with high blood pressure and diabetes as medical problems to be treated with medication?

When I recommend surgery for a tumor, or tell a woman she is pregnant, I can back up my diagnosis with observable facts and measurable lab results. Psychiatric diagnoses, like depression or anxiety or bipolar, are based upon opinions, not evidence. Pharmaceuticals are created that make us feel less sad or less anxious. These drugs can make us feel better for a while – but then again, so can cocaine.

A Scientific Name Doesn’t Make It True

A lot of money is made selling drugs, especially the legal kind. You can give grief and sadness a scientific name, call it a mood disorder, and quote well-funded scientific studies about imbalances of neurotransmitters in the brain and successful treatment with medication.

But this is the same specious argument made by those who insisted the stars and planets revolved around the Earth. If you look in the night sky, you can see the celestial bodies moving around our planet’s sky, just as the ancients described a thousand years ago. But this doesn’t mean they understood what was going on.

We suffer for a reason. Your hand hurts when you touch a hot stove. You can move your hand, or you can take pain medication. Medication will work for a while, but the burning will continue, and you will eventually need more drugs.

This is the source of substance abuse. You take drugs for the wrong reason to make you feel better – and soon you need some more.

We all suffer from terrible loss. This can be the death of one we love, or a heart breaking betrayal, or a crappy childhood. Grief is a feeling so deep and awful it can make us question whether we even want to live. This is spiritual suffering. The source of this suffering is not as obvious as when your hand or mine is on a hot stove. But what we can learn is even more important.

The Physician for Spiritual Pain

Spiritual pain is the only way we come to understand the eternal nature of ourselves.

This is not an easy lesson. We come into the world as helpless newborns, only to die eight or ten decades later. In the course of that life, we gain – and then lose – everything and everyone that matters to us. We suffer terribly and we grieve along the way. But during these moments of pain, we can learn to reach out to a Higher Power – to God – for answers. And as we open ourselves to the source of Life, we come to recognize a greater truth.

We are not mortal human beings suffering from spiritual problems. We are immortal spiritual beings, suffering from human problems. When we open our hearts to God our faith grows and we understand how to live.

Taking a pill is easier than building a relationship with God. But this is what our world encourages; there is more money in selling drugs than in recommending spiritual growth. Anxiety and depression are not medical diagnoses. They are spiritual injuries. These are the signs pointing the path we must learn to travel. This is the path of Love.

Learning this lesson is the only reason why we are here.

-Dr. Mike Litrel

January 6, 2013

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Last year when Cindy came in for an annual exam, I was disheartened that her Internist had placed her on yet another antidepressant and she had gained another twenty pounds. Now she was even more depressed.

Like all of us, Cindy has her demons. Her biggest goes by the name of “Donut.”

A donut is just like an antidepressant; it makes you feel better immediately, but when your clothing becomes tight and the scale moves in the wrong direction you need yet another one to make you feel better.

Excess fat on your body does not make you a bad person. The body is not who you are. It is only a temporary shell that houses your immortal self. But disliking what you see in the mirror is a lousy way to start the day. Negative feelings make it difficult to become the person God imagines. How can you love others when you have trouble even loving yourself?

Poor Choices Map the Highway to Depression

Skillful living boils down to one action at a time. Buy fresh fruit rather than a box of donuts. Pick up an apple instead of the donut. Eat the apple. Wise choices lead to happiness and fulfillment. Poor choices chart the highway to depression.

Do I relax on the couch or go for a walk around the block?

Do I watch mindless television or read a good book?

Will I complain about my troubles – or thank God for my blessings?

The decisions we make determine whether we have a healthy life or not, both physically and spiritually. I can tell you from knowing thousands of patients through the years that it’s the choices we make each moment that determine our happiness.

The Prescription for Happiness

I recommended to Cindy the book “Eat to Live” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. His prescription boils down to this: Just add a pound of salad, a pound of cooked vegetables, and fresh fruit every day. Then watch your demons – and the cravings – gradually fade away.

In fighting depression, our first line of defense must be against the countless chemicals and preservatives, and the dangerous fats and sugars, that permeate our food. A good diet is the first and best antidepressant.

This year when Cindy came back for her annual, she had lost fifty pounds. As she explained she was off all her medications, a huge smile lit her face.

It’s amazing what the right antidepressant can do.

-Dr. Mike Litrel

January 4, 2013

Passing-the-Test

I am blessed to be a doctor, the fulfillment of my childhood dream. It has sometimes been a steep climb, but the constant challenges of being a doctor still give my life its meaning every day.

But there were times I almost gave up on my dream. The main reason I wanted to quit was that studying science was difficult. In high school I almost failed chemistry. The ideas were complicated, the language was strange. Even though I could quote my textbook like a parrot, I didn’t understand it. I floundered for months until I finally learned what was required: I had to understand each word, and grasp every concept, before moving forward.

Studying science takes a lot of work.

Knowing the Source of Health

But there is a subject more complicated than science. It is the subject of the human spirit. Understanding God, our relationship to Him, and the purpose of our lives is the most important knowledge we can acquire. It impacts every segment of our lives: our health, our career, our relationships and happiness.

In the same way we can get the answers wrong about a chemistry problem, we can get the answers wrong on the spiritual tests of life. But instead of just failing a high school class, we fail in life; and we suffer terrible unhappiness or anger.

Jesus taught us that our task in life is to love and forgive. Yet so often we judge instead.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.’ ” Matthew 7:3-5

When we quote Bible verses in the name of Christ while judging others, we become modern day Pharisees – and persecutors of Him. We parrot the letter of the law without understanding the spirit.

I see this truth in my patients every day. When we choose the path of love and acceptance, our lives become happy. And when we choose to improve not our neighbor, but the person we see in the mirror, we find the peace and meaning in life that form the foundation of real health.

-Dr. Mike Litrel

January 2, 2013

Couch Potato

My office schedule was packed with patients one day when a colleague called me in to an exam room to see her patient. The situation was urgent, and I tried not to think about the delays our patients would experience because I was making time for someone else.

This patient was a thirty year old woman who had been bleeding heavily for almost two years. Her pain had increasingly become worse, so severe that today that she had arrived at the office without an appointment, insisting on being seen. Our nurse practitioner had made time for her, but it turned out her problem was complicated, too complicated to be diagnosed without a surgical perspective.

I could clearly feel the large mass in her pelvis: it was obvious she needed surgery. We performed the ultrasound and necessary biopsy to line her up for the help she needed.

Unfortunately, the patient didn’t have health insurance.

For a doctor or anyone in the healing profession, it’s heartbreaking to see patients who need help but can’t afford care. The patient glared at me with a mixture of pain and anger, and asked what she was supposed to do. I suggested going to the health department to see if she was eligible for Medicaid – or perhaps to the hospital, to see if she could get charity care.

“I already tried that!” she snapped. “And it didn’t work!” She angrily held out her hands, in a gesture that seemed to offer up her problems for me to take on. The tone of voice clearly conveyed that this was someone else’s fault.

I pointed out that she had been suffering with this problem for years – she needed to take some responsibility for not having health insurance. She was very capable. If she had begun looking for a job with benefits a year ago, instead of staying at home, she would not be in this situation, and we could perform the surgery.

Whose Health Problem Is it?

I try to be as honest and open with patients as possible about how I can help them – and how I can’t. Sometimes maybe I am too honest, and I began thinking this was one of those times. I’d tried to communicate in a non-judgmental way, but I wondered as I went back to my waiting patients if I had not just been a big jerk.

About six months ago, a patient arrived at the office unannounced, with a plate full of home baked cookies. She asked if I remembered her. I didn’t. It was the same patient. She had come in to thank me. Three months after I had examined her, she had gotten health insurance, and one of my partners had performed her surgery. She felt better than she had in years. She just wanted me to know she had made changes. And she said thank you for my honest words.

“All these years I felt like my problems were somebody else’s fault,” she said. “I think you were the first person to tell me I had to help take care of myself.”

She said she felt feel better physically, but she was most surprised that she actually felt better spiritually and emotionally. “I feel like my life is finally on the right track.”

Health is not what someone does for you, and it’s not just about your body. It’s about your soul, and what you do for yourself. To be healthy and happy, you have to assume responsibility for your life. And as we come to the time of year for making new resolutions, it’s important to know –

God doesn’t smile on the Spiritual Couch Potato.

-Dr. Mike Litrel

woman having hot flashesMenopause… Whether you’re in the midst of it or it’s yet to happen, how much do you really know about it?

Take this short quiz to find out!

 

December 28, 2012

testimonial-for-site_final“I had been through many different doctors to try to treat my symptoms and I always got the same answers:  “You’re fine, it’s all in your head.”  Finally, I found Dr. Gandhi and she’s been a complete lifesaver!  I know now that I don’t have to live in pain and what I was experiencing was not normal.  A woman wouldn’t normally talk about their experience with a gynecologist, however my experience has been such a blessing in my life (a real life changer) that I tell everyone!  I’ve actually referred two friends to her because I don’t want women to go through years of pain and sadness like I did.  They both love Dr. Gandhi as much as I do!”

Thank you for your story, Sarah!  I also want to personally thank you for sending two friends our way!

December 20, 2012

We were so thrilled to have Santa take a break from the North Pole to visit us!  He even brought one of his elves too!  Kimby the Elf took many pictures of happy families and smiling children as they whispered to Mr. Claus about their Christmas hopes! It was a great day here and we wanted to share the pictures with you!

December 18, 2012

It’s that time of the year again… shopping, Santa, cold weather, food, and traveling!

Being a parent is hard enough, but adding an eight hour car trip to the mix is bound to make it that much harder.    Child

Here is a video that gives hints on keeping your sanity while traveling.

Real Mom Tips for Traveling with Kids

We wish you a very happy holiday season, and hope your travels are safe and enjoyable!

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“Dr. Litrel was a fantastic doctor. I had my first exam with him, although at first I was skeptical about a male doctor for my GYN. But after I met him I’m glad I kept an open mind, and I couldn’t have dreamed up a better doctor. He cares about you as a person and not just a patient. The front desk ladies and nurses were very friendly and it’s a great office, very clean and not intimidating. I highly recommend Cherokee Women’s Health.”
– Vicki