Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bad Medicine


In the midst of the growing national debate on health care reform, I have been a patient. I participate in two diametrically opposed health care systems. Traditional western medicine, where my appointment is cancelled and I'm charged a fee if I'm late while I frequently wait up to two hours to be seen for my appointment, and non-traditional/naturopathic healing, where I usually can just call and talk to my health care professional in person, and I often don't even need to be seen in person. I understand that both sides bring things of value to medicine. But only one of them allows me to retain my humanity.

I can't even bring myself to summarize the statistics I have in front of me regarding the state of medical care in the United States. But we all know, without the numbers or references, we all know that we pay more for a less efficient or effective system than almost any industrialized nation in the world. We also know that we're fat and getting fatter, and suffering the health repercussions. We know that our health care system is entrenched in the treatment of symptoms rather than causes, and that we are more likely to demand a prescription than suck it up and make a lifestyle change. We know that the current system values the prolonging of life far beyond the preservation of quality of life. And we all know, that even giving its failings, it's the only system we have fiscally available to us. And we still can't afford it.

So we need to go off the grid. All of us. Before our collective health and well-being goes the way of climate change, way too little, way too late. There's too much money invested in the "western system" to expect tangible and substantive changes, the ones that will make us happier and healthier, in our lifetimes. So, make the lifestyle changes you need to make to be a healthier person. Eat whole foods, that you prepare yourself. Exercise. Get massages instead of muscle relaxants, eat garlic instead of taking antibiotics. Meditate. Get a naturopath, they are true healers. Laugh. Take care of your body, it's the only vessel you're given.

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