Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Lucid Dreams

It was a relatively short article in the WSJ, titled Lucid Dreaming and I probably wouldn’t have read it except for the fact that I recently had one of those sleep experiences where a problem you had when you went to sleep was solved when you awakened.  In my case it was where I was supposed to go for my first-ever MRI.

The prescription for the procedure came about when I had week of postural dizziness that was quite alarming.  I suspected , and it appears to be the case, that for some reason medications I have taken for years to control my blood pressure and my cholesterol eventually worked to lower my diastolic pressure to a point where I was not getting enough blood to my brain.

A visit to my PCP, or more exactly a colleague of my PCP titrated my meds and the symptoms have gone away.  But a series of routine tests, searching for explanations seemed to show an elevation in my Liver Function enzymes.  A referral to a GI specialist brought more tests and the discovery that I was storing iron at an alarming level.  I was taking 70 mg. of iron a day, begun when I was discovered with minor anemia several years ago.

Although I have discontinued iron, getting rid of the stored amounts in my liver is a long process.  I had an ultrasound and then the MRI to see what might be causing the storage.  Although the good news is that I do not have Hepatitis A or B, cirrhosis, or diabetes, there does appear to be a minor blockage in my Hepatic duct and a special ultrasound and a biopsy are in my near future.

When I got the prescription for the first MRI, I went to radiology to schedule it and was given a number to call.  I called the number and got the appointment, which I put on my iPhone.  I listened to the instructions, which included directions, but I didn’t write them down.

So, a few days later as I prepared for my appointment I couldn’t remember where I was supposed to go.  I called the office but had to leave a message, pointing out that I had an 8:30 AM appointment.  I went to sleep, hoping for the best.

The Knight's Dream
And that is what happened!  In one of many occasions where I pondered a problem before I went to sleep, the solution was right in front of me when I wakened. Including the building, the turns and the “second door on the right” instruction.

By the time the scheduling nurse called, I was in the room and prepped for the procedure.

Other times, instead of directions  I have remembered where something lost could be found, what was the correct answer to a puzzle, or even the forgotten name of a friend.

The interesting point of the article was that the frequency of finding those answers can be improved.  Studies, beginning almost 100 years ago, show that focusing on a specific question increases the lucidity of the dream process and even the detail of the memory.

Intuitively I guess I knew this.  I have always been a detailed dreamer including one time in college when I dreamt the entire script for a play I never wrote, excluding the dialogue.  Dreams are poor on dialogue, probably because the REM sleep cycle is relatively short.

An interesting sidelight, which might help you as it has me, has to do with snoring.  As a dentist, and in particular a dentist working with medical and dental benefits, one of the thorniest as to where there was a need, was the correlation between snoring and sleep apnea.  When I was at WellPoint, a CPAP analysis was necessary to allow funding for a devise, often constructed by dentists.  I have an Oral Surgeon friend whose practice is largely based on building these appliances, which can cost up to $1,000.  I also played golf recently with a younger friend who bought a store-made devise in response to a girlfriend’s concerns about his snoring.

Recently Mary made it known that I was waking her with my snoring, almost always about 4:00 AM, my time of REM sleep.  As a practicing dentist, I had counselling success with Behavior Modification techniques where the partner wakes the snorer until the snorer unconsciously chooses to sleep rather than to snore; and I suggested trying this technique. Success? Not so much.

Son Tim, who watches the Science channels suggest a second pillow to change the position of the head.  For more than a week now, there have been no snoring episodes.

Tim now calls himself “Doctor Tim”.

With Labor Day coming, I was reflecting on my growing up and what part Band Concerts played in that endeavor.  My next post was address both that history and what summer Band Concerts have morphed into.  Please join me.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Frank Sinatra 1947
The other day on the spur of the moment Mary and I went to the Bowers Museum for a lecture titled: Sinatra: the Early Years.  Aside from the spontaneity, what made it special was the fact that museums, like libraries, are reinventing themselves as to how they fit into the community.  There was no Sinatra exhibit, nor even an exhibit on American music. Instead, there was a contact with a retired school teacher with a passion for American music who was given a forum and an audience to present a fantastic collection of film clips of the early years of a singer who has been aptly named: The Voice.

In recent times I was asked by the Crowell Library of San Marino to present a lecture on Julia Child and her affiliation with the AIWF as part of an annual Book Discussion group they have.  Although Book Signings are fairly common at libraries, my book Harnessing a Heritage, had nothing to do with my invitation.  It was my knowledge of the American Institute of Wine and Food and of Julia, one of its founders that was of interest.  On another note: at our El Toro Library we attended a presentation by a woman who chronicled her childhood memories of incarceration by our government during the Second World War with paintings she has collected into a book.  The interest of her audience was not so much in her book as the experience of her incarceration and, more specifically, why the Japanese Americans seemed to bear little resentment to the loss of their rights and property by the U.S. Government.  We have also attended several jazz concerts at the Orange County Museum of Art, and one wine and cheese tasting at the Newport Library.

As Program Chair for the local Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America I recently tapped into a program initiated at the Santa Ana Library”: a program designed to assist separating service personnel in finding employment in the civilian sector.  The Chief Librarian, Milly Lugo, used the facilities and credentials of the library to bring together several resources to one venue and to appeal to the audience best suited to the value of the program.  Although it is quire early in the game, there is every indication that the program will be of great value to those in need.

 In Orange County most libraries have a volunteer-staffed used book store that [provides significant funds for projects and; programs that would otherwise not be possible.  Mary has been involved with the El Toro Library Bookstore since its inception more than twenty years ago.  Partially because of its location (just outside of a senior residential community, they have an abundance of donated books, some of them quite valuable.  In recent years those of value are traded on e-Bay and their sale has allowed the Friends group to donate for $40,000 to $50,000 a year for the last several years.

Other library projects are worthy of special note.  One of the local libraries, recognizing that homeless people were using their facilities to wash-up decided they would target that audience with opportunities to learn skill that would help them towards employment. Another was in the WESJ recently where libraries are now stocking e-books, offering a Netflix type reading experience for free.

So, you might want to check out what your libraries and museums are offering.  As for me, we will be going to Sinatra: Part 2 the end of the month.  I may learn something new, like last time when I learned that part of Sinatra’s uniqueness was that he had trained his breathing to all for long phrasing by swimming under water; a trick now being used by Extreme athletes to be more relaxed and confidant.

Join me next time when I explore Lucid dreaming and how it relates to problem solving.