I learned about Gary Kaplan’s book, Total Recovery:Solving the Mystery of Chronic Pain and Depression, in a Women’s Health article, which summarized the contents and importance of the book. That same day I placed the book on hold at the library thinking maybe more than just the summary would be helpful? This topic, when covered in the thorough and educational manner the author presents it, can be useful to all people, because we have all experienced physical and emotional pain. According to Kaplan, this pain can be linked to future difficulties if left untreated. The text is separated into three parts: Part I: Asking New Questions, Part II: Solving the Mystery, and Part:III: The Path to Total Recovery. Kaplan encourages his reader to consider how he or she first started feeling unwell and what it means to stay unwell without treatment; he discusses the implications of new scientific evidence that the brain becomes inflamed with each new emotional and physical trauma and he provides a list of treatment methods used at Kaplan Center,his integrative medicine facility.
In each chapter of the text, Kaplan uses case studies, to help the reader better comprehend the subject matter he is discussing. He begins with the example of Billy, a teenager who was in a skiing accident and had ACL surgery. After the surgery Billy is incapacitated with pain. (p. 3-32) It takes seeing numerous specialists, years of pain, suffering, and testing, for Dr. Kaplan to conclude that Billy’s pain is not the result of one injury, but of several, which have inflamed the glial cells in his brain, which are designed to protect, but often times become overactive after being subjected to years of injuries, leading to headache, dizziness, and achiness all over. (p. 96) Once it is understood how pain is amplified by the brain, the author discusses ways in which physical and mental components of the body are interrelated.
Kaplan writes about emerging science and his own struggle to make connections between physical pain and mental disorders. With each new case that is presented, the doctor and reader see a pattern of emotional and physical injury the body has tried to cope with maladaptively in different people: migraines, acute pain, brain fog, depression, fibromyalgia, anxiety disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, PTSD. (p.105) Kaplan shows that the treatment plan must also be integrative, or a whole body approach, as opposed to treating only Billy’s ACL injury. (p. 26-28) One problem compounds another. Also, the importance of treating the inflammation of glial cells; and, therefore the symptoms, is discussed in terms of neurodegeneration. (p. 52) This means that the longer an issue, such as past trauma or acute pain remains untreated, the worse it and it’s comorbid disorders will become. Next, Kaplan provides individualized information about treating emotional and physical pain.
What can a person who experiences an array of physical and emotional discomforts do to fight them? Kaplan provides the website of his integrative medicine practice and a link to a timeline, like the one he uses with his patients, to start your exploration into your past. Using the chart you will plot the occurrences and dates of physical and emotional stressors, and eventually, determine which issues have been treated or resolved, and which ones might be having lingering effects on your body. He also includes a list of recommendations to try, in order to reduce inflammation in the brain. These things include, non-inflammatory vitamins like magnesium, vitamin-D, and omega-3’s, dark chocolate, a gluten free diet, avoidance of stimulants, such as sleep aids, NSAIDS, and caffeine, probiotics, green tea, regular exercise, and daily meditation. (p. 191-203) This may seem like a lot of things to do or change, but how much are you willing to sacrifice to feel well?
This text provided a lot of practical and educational background helpful in solving a problem I have been experiencing most of my life. I can imagine that many others could benefit, if not from all, then at least in part, from the knowledge provided by Dr. Kaplan. Although I have known for years that I might need to do some of the things recommended in this text, I never have. The research-based material, spoke to the logic in me, and made me realize I need to change for my health, not only now, but in the future.
Star Rating 4 out of 5 Stars