Don’t let the cheetah eat you: healing medicine with self and preventative care

“They only kept her for 90 minutes,” the pacing father told me.  “I’m not even a doctor and that didn’t sound right.”  He ran his hands through his hair in jerky movements, poster signs of agitation.  Last night, his 10-year-old daughter had an allergic reaction to shellfish and had been admitted to the emergency room.  This had never happened before.  No one knew that bomb lived in her body.  I could feel his stress and frustration at being unable to help his daughter.  He had called a friend who was an emergency room doctor and they had told him that protocol for shellfish allergies was to monitor the patient for four hours before releasing them.  An Epipen was also required to take home to prevent death in case a highly possible second reaction occurred within 24 hours.  None of these were followed by the hospital.

My client was lucky and smart.  He’d rechecked the facts, retrieved life saving medication for his daughter and was taking care of himself by getting a relaxation massage.  Its my job to take people out of stress response.  Even to bystanders, life-threatening situations can seem like the walls are caving in and a simple misstep in medical protocol made that all the more difficult for an entire family.  Luckily both father and daughter are fine. 

Western Medicine is superior in crisis situations.  It can sew bits back together after accidents and replace parts that are broken beyond repair.  That is a miracle and I feel so lucky to have access to that technology.   I am fond of Western Medicine.  I am fond that it has the ability to cure the sick.  I am fond of seeing people suffering from debilitating injuries get new parts and not be in pain all the time.  Pain is a great transformer.  It can change or destroy you.  Sometimes it is a little bit of both.  It is fortunate to live in a society where there are many options to manage that process.  For those who fall through the cracks however, pain can last for years and some never recover.

The medical model, as I’ve personally experienced, is a series of parts that have difficulty connecting.  Insurance companies.  Hospitals. Doctors.  Drugs.  Physical Therapy.  The list is vast.  It is no longer a free market.  Its potential if well organized, balanced and unified is immeasurable.  There is a great need for some serious reform and readjustment.  Medicine is not a well oiled machine as Dr. Atul Gawande put in his TED talk “How Do We Heal Medicine.” 

“There’s evidence all around us: 40 percent of our coronary artery disease patients in our communities receive incomplete or inappropriate care. 60 percent of our asthma, stroke patients receive incomplete or inappropriate care. Two million people come into hospitals and pick up an infection they didn’t have because someone failed to follow the basic practices of hygiene. Our experience as people who get sick, need help from other people, is that we have amazing clinicians that we can turn to — hardworking, incredibly well-trained and very smart — that we have access to incredible technologies that give us great hope, but little sense that it consistently all comes together for you from start to finish in a successful way.”

Incomplete and inappropriate care, I believe is the difference between sanity and insanity.  Life or death. Calm or panic.  Falling through the cracks and hitting rock bottom versus being caught and supported.  Its being stuck in a bubble and it seems like no one can understand you, your family, your friends and the people whose job is to make you well.  How do I know this?  I once needed a lot of medical attention and got to see first hand just how jangled and impersonal the system can be.  The stress alone with being so misunderstood and unsupported can be a killer.  Dr. Gawande proposed a very simple yet effective solution, a series of checklists and protocols to cover basic cracks in the surgical system.  It literally saved lives.  I hope this system is implemented and should spread too all the corners of medicine. 

Western Medicine is primarily a reactive model.  Screw metal here.  Give this drug for this purpose.  Scan this area with radioactive dye.  Cut the cancer out there.  Inject this antibiotic because of infection.  Replace this joint because it is old and worn out.  Are these totally amazing and wonderful things?  Oh gosh yes, its like we live in a Star Trek age!  However, if that does not work and protocols fail, there can be little hope.  When there are no more answers and too much incomplete and inappropriate care, many turn to holistic and natural medicine.  A few have found answers. 

Its been pointed out by Drs. Deepak Chopra, Dean Ornish, Andrew Weil and Rustum Roy that of $2.8 trillion dollars expected to be paid in healthcare this year, 95% will be spent after the onset of a disease.  There is not currently much time, action and attention being spent on the exponentially lower costs of preventative medicine by educating and increasing quality of diet, decreasing stress.  There is very little support and awareness of the complimentary modalities designed to support the effects of modern medicine.  My next segment will focus on alternative means available to increasing health and places where you can find it.