First of all I do think that doctors generally do an amazing job. It’s a job I wouldn’t be able to do and this is in no way a rant against them.
However, I do think that the system they work in is fundamentally flawed. In the UK we have the national health system but in truth its the national sickness system. The whole principle is when people get sick you treat their symptoms which may make sense to lots of people but for me its very wrong. I don’t believe that the absence of sickness is an acceptable definition of health and the numbing of symptoms is absolutely not.
We live in a pop a pill society where, if you have high blood pressure – take a pill, cholesterol? We’ve got a pill for that and depression? Lets call on our good old friend prozac. Now, I’m not saying that these don’t have an absolutely essential place in our society as part of a long term solution but they should never be viewed as the solution. Our bodies and minds are amazing things and our ability to heal is nothing short of miraculous. But most medicines are designed to treat the symptom not the cause. Lets look at the dictionary definition –
Symptom – An indication of a disorder or disease
The sypmtom is not the disease or disorder so how can treating it ever be a long term solution.
A story from my past
When I was younger I had a bike, it wasn’t a great bike but it was mine. It was a Raleigh Commando and was so heavy I could barely carry it down the stairs from our first floor flat. Dad normally fixed my punctures but one day I got a flat when he was at work so I thought I’d do it myself. I found the puncture, fixed the tube and then a proud little me struggled down the stairs with my bike. After about 30 seconds the tyre was flat again. Up the stairs I went, fixed this puncture, carried the bike downstairs and 30 second later? You’ve guessed it, another flat. When this happened a third time I just gave up. When dad came home he carried the bike upstairs, gently ran his hand round the inside of the tyre and found a small piece of metal sticking through. I hadn’t realised that he did this every time before he even looked at the tube. While I was treating the symptom he was looking for the source of the problem.
A story from our present
My wife Sinead is a celiac, she also doesn’t like making a fuss or going to the doctors. She knew there was a bad relationship between herself and “carbs” so overtime started removing them from her diet. The problem was that the more she removed carbs the worse her reactions became when something got through. Eventually we figured out the issue was gluten and we immediately removed it from her diet, problem solved you would think. But no, for the Doctors to accept that she’s a celiac and officially diagnose her they need to see the after affects of gluten in her system. Their suggestion, she eats gluten for a while to get further confirmation. This is a substance that causes her body to attack the gluten and then turn on itself. Its something that causes her serious pain and stops her from leaving the house.
We are now relatively sure that Sinead is a diabetic and has been for some time. 5-10% of celiacs have type 1 diabetes but because of not having an official celiac diagnosis (and Sinead not making a fuss) the entire year has been spent being messed around with every new doctor starting from scratch.
The plan for the future
What has got us through this last year has been one decision, to take responsibility for our health. To make it a priority, educate ourselves and not pass that responsibility on to anyone else. Responsibility is not throwing a few symptoms into Dr Google and taking your first diagnosis, its carefully monitoring your well-being. Starting a diary to track your food, symptoms, clarity of thought, emotions, sleep and keeping that diary for a long time. Realising that taking note of when you feel amazing is as important as when you feel crap. Looking for patterns and similarities, drawing conclusions and then testing them on yourself. Looking to move towards feeling amazing on a daily basis and as opposed to aiming for just not being sick. Instead of looking faith in the health system have faith in your bodies ability to heal and feel amazing.
The truth is every body is different, what works for one person might not be the same for another. You are the only person who can find out what your body needs to rock, so go take responsibility and find out.