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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Whose Responsibility Is Your Health?

In case anyone isn't paying attention, the train wreck that is Obamacare is about to morph into a nuclear meltdown unless I miss my guess. It won't happen overnight but it will happen. First in the poorer areas of cities, then in rural areas. But eventually, if the economy tanks or the Grid goes down for whatever reason, you may no longer have access to a doctor or hospital. What will you do then? Are you and your family prepared to live like people did 200 years ago? It's time to think about that possibility and prepare. Let me share some of my journey toward health with you.
I grew up during a time when people took care of their own health problems at home. They went to a doctor when things were beyond that scope. When I was eleven I jumped off of the garage roof onto a pile of old boards and drove a huge rusty nail through my foot. After delivering a good chewing to me for being stupid, my mother cleaned up the wound, put some salve on it and realized the next day when a red streak began moving up my leg, it was time to do something more drastic. She drew a pan of very hot water, poured in a cup of Epsom salts and made me soak my foot several times a day. The red streak went away. I'm sure if it hadn't she'd have dragged me to the doctor to get a tetanus shot. Even if you prefer a doctor as your first line of defense, it pays to know how to deal with medical emergencies in case the system collapses, as I think it will.
I still have the same mind set about most medical issues. Not long after the nail incident, I got some kind of viral infection, high fever, feeling generally miserable. I don't know if I'd heard my mother and grandmother talking about hot toddys or I just dreamed it up, but I found a bottle of whiskey and poured a shot into a cup along with a good slug of honey, half the juice of a lemon and very hot water. I dragged every blanket I could find to my bed, covered up and went to sleep. When I woke up several hours later, the bed was soaked, the fever was gone and I felt wonderful. Many years later I had an abscess on one of my tonsils. I took a big drink of unflavored brandy, tilted my head back and held the brandy on the tonsil. Within a few minutes the abscess exploded and drained. Needless to say, in any of these emergencies, if they hadn't worked a doctor would have been consulted. But doctors are busy people. Why bother them with things you can deal with yourself?
Last year my husband began having some serious abdominal pain. Since I knew he no longer had an appendix, I wasn't worried about that. But on seeing a doctor, he was told he'd have to have his gall bladder removed. That's okay if it's really diseased, but I've read that surgery only cures the problems for a little while and then those same symptoms often return. What are they going to take out next? So I went through a few of my 87 health related books, mixed some olive oil into grapefruit juice and gave it to him every morning and once again later in the day. (The man despises grapefruit juice. You know he was hurting.)Within a week and a half he returned to the doctor to find his gall bladder was in wonderful shape and he wouldn't need the surgery after all. WTH? Why not go with something less invasive before opting for surgery when you have that opportunity? Last year, his new doctor told him his blood sugar was almost 400 and he'd need to go on Metformin. I told him it was his choice if he wanted to do that but if he wanted, he could try something else first. I weaned him off of his beloved pasta and onto food combining with me, working out with me at the Y and walking two miles three to four days a week. Over the year his blood sugar dropped like a rock. 80's and 90's fasting and 120-140 random. There wasn't much the doctor could say at that point but for my husband to keep doing whatever worked for him.
I have made it a practice to live as healthy as I can manage and only see a doctor when I don't know what I'm dealing with or can't heal by myself. As I've moved into Medicare, that is becoming increasingly more difficult. Between my insurance expecting me to get one test after the other and the rules surrounding health care, it is a real struggle to get reasonable care for myself. On occasions where I see another doctor (specialist) and am doing the intake, I invariably get asked what medicines I take. Upon telling them Advaire (asthma inhaler) they look at me as though waiting for me to continue with a long list of everything from anti-anxiety drugs to statins to blood pressure medicine. Nope, just the inhaler. When did we get to the point where nearly everyone over the age of 60 has a huge pill pack to get them through the day? My grandparents certainly didn't take meds like this. Of course they grew or raised their own food. It wasn't processed to death. To date, all of my clients have 12-26 pills they take every day. There are a few exceptions.
To give you an idea of what you can accomplish by taking care of your health instead of just relying on the medical community, my husband came home one day and was still in shock. His new client was 104. As he questioned her about her medical history, he was even more amazed. No, she didn't bother with doctors much. No, she didn't take that garbage (medicine) when asked about that. “The only thing I take is Norwegian cod liver oil.” She's only been in a hospital once two years ago when she stepped off her combine and broke her leg. (I kid you not. She is still farming.) She and her 73 year old male companion (I like this woman) drive to Florida and Alaska once a year and she just got her driver's license renewed. I said, “Find out what the hell she's eating.” Iowans are tough.
I don't know how she's managed. But it is becoming ever more difficult to stay off of prescriptions drugs. My cholesterol runs between 200 and 223. The first thing they wanted to do was put me on a low fat diet and statins. Even my daughter, who should know better, tried to talk me into that. First of all, I do not believe that cholesterol is bad for you. If you weren't ingesting any, your liver would still manufacture it. It is that vital to health. Secondly, my triglycerides are 96-98. And I do not believe that my level of total cholesterol is unhealthy. The doctor checks my arteries and says they are clear and I eat whole eggs, butter and occasionally cream. My doctor's husband, also a doctor, at the time, looked at my labs and said “You're about 22 on the inside.” I was 55 at the time. I increased my lecithin to make my daughter happy and threw away the low fat diet. Been there/done that. Doesn't work for me.
I can see right now that Obamacare and I are going to be oil and water. Part of the reason for that is my lifelong love affair with whole body healing. At the age of 23 and pregnant with my daughter, I began reading everything I could find on health, nutrition, supplements, herbs and any related subject. The first thing I learned was that doctors, at least in the seventies, had very little knowledge of nutrition and its relation to the health of the body. There were exceptions, usually the old time doctors who treated the entire person instead of one organ. And now they want to do 'Wellness visits' in your home? Why, so they can snoop? No thanks, if I need to see a doc I will schedule a visit. I am very in tune with my body. I know when something is wrong and generally have a pretty good idea what it is.
I was fortunate to go to one of the newly educated idiots very early on for a recurring problem of an ovarian cyst which would become inflamed and lay me low for a few days. She gave me antibiotics, which admittedly did help but also gave me a whopping case of yeast infection. Also, I asked her if there was any food, drink or other drug I should avoid while taking them. Oh no, anything was perfectly fine. Out of my insatiable curiosity, I bought a prescription drug book and looked it up. It said to there was another drug that was contraindicated. Shouldn't she have known that? On top of that, she and her other OB/GYN partner charged an exorbitant fee for our small town. I don't know about you but when I lay out money I expect to get my money's worth.
After about a year of this 'increasing in duration medical merry-go-round' only cured by lots of yogurt and acidophiles capsules, I decided to take matters into my own hands. More books were bought on natural healing and I studied them until I found what worked for me. Slippery Elm tea and Blue Cohosh capsules. From that time on any time I had a flare up, I would brew the tea and take a couple of capsules two to three times a day. That worked better than the antibiotics as well as the episodes getting further and further apart until any flare ups were rare and no yeast infection! Slippery (red) elm tea is for inflammation and Blue and Black Cohosh are for female health. And it didn't take a medical degree to figure it out.
Beyond that, I realized that what I ate had a huge impact on how I looked and felt. I had already quit smoking at 25, never got into recreational drugs, seldom drank and avoided prescription drugs like the plague. They were considered a last resort only. I knew I was on the right track. My library grew. I refused to jump on the eggs and butter are bad for you nutritional guidance. People have been eating those things for hundreds if not thousands of years. Not buying that crap. Some nutritionists also would have you believe that honey is no different than sugar. I beg to differ. Any diet that called for all cooked food or was heavy on one nutrient to the detriment of other things I learned was just a fad, doomed to fail.
In the mid seventies in the Midwest, it was nearly impossible to find the kind of healthy foods I was reading about, so I joined a local health food co-op. Once a month a couple of us would travel to Iowa City to buy whole grain cereal and flour, cold-pressed oil, natural peanut butter, raw honey, etc. in large quantities. We'd split the cost and the products. As I got to know the members a little better, I could see that some of them looked really unhealthy. Curious, I watched what they ate or quizzed them further and discovered that some were vegans. Since my father was a live stock dealer, I had grown up eating meat. I'd hunted and fished and wasn't about to try their lifestyle, especially since they looked gray around the edges.
I began to experiment with different ways of eating to find what was best for me and my daughter. I found that food that was as close to its source as possible was the way to go. I made nearly all of the meals for us from scratch except for our weekly Sunday dinner with my mom who thought convenience foods were manna from heaven. People would beg me for a share of my homemade bread or healthy cookies. I even went through a Ewell Gibbons phase of learning about finding and fixing food from the edibles in the backyard and woods. My mother pointed out that the cherry tomatoes we were finding growing along the rocks on the river bank, likely came out of the sewage plant up-river! Good fertilizer I guess. They were free.
At around this time I found a wonderful physician who is my GP to this day. She respects my knowledge and I respect hers. She knows beyond my yearly check-up, PAP test, and lab work, she will see me if I have a problem I can't deal with on my own. A very rare occurrence. She also appreciates the fact that I can make the most arrogant doctor at our local hospital nervous enough to look for a side door when he sees me coming down the hospital hallway. It might have been when I told him I did not subscribe to the theory that doctors are just one notch below God and he needed to get off his high horse. He is now my husbands doctor appointed by his insurance. (There is a God)
I think it says a lot about our local doctors when about ten years ago a friend and I, both alternative healers, set up and taught a seminar on complementary/integrative medicine at our local hospital. Not one doctor showed up. (My doc and her husband were out of town) There were lots of nurses, chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, and regular folks who were just interested in the subject. But not one doctor.
Times are changing though and more physicians in our area are wising up about natural practices, supplements, herbal therapies, healthy food and more. They are beginning to understand that their over reliance of antibiotics for everything from an ingrown toenail to a sore throat has caused a huge problem with the super bugs that have mutated to become resistant to them. I believe it was in 2014 that the CDC announced that they no longer had an antibiotic that really worked. That's just wonderful as I believe there is a place for antibiotics and now many if not most can't be relied on to work?
That is where the mindset of mainstream medicine and Big Pharma have taken us. That shouldn't be surprising considering the history of medicine in this country. Unlike in Europe and other areas where alternative therapies are used and respected along with mainstream medicine, in this country they've been treated like a red-headed step child. Why would that be?
The Powers That Be got their meat hooks into medicine about a hundred years ago when John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie had invested heavily in the burgeoning drug industry. They were already well versed in eliminating competition. And the health field would be no exception.
Rockefeller sent one of his minions, a man named Abraham Flexner around to all the medical schools of the day. He reported his findings back to Rockefeller. Just one man determined the fate of these early medical schools. If any of them taught alternative therapies or accepted women or people of color into their schools, they received no funding. If that wasn't enough to close them down, Rockefeller sent his goon squad around to forcibly shut them down. Alternative healing went underground.
From that time on only doctors trained in acceptable methods such as surgery and pharmaceutical drugs would be certified by these schools and by the new medical associations. Doctors were encouraged to fill the positions of any health related field, be it a county health department, child protections services, and hospital boards. When people thought about their health and preserving it, only 'approved' doctors' would be acceptable choices.
Of course country people especially or new immigrants from the old country brought their home remedies with them and shared them with others. But they had to be careful. There were penalties for 'practicing' medicine without that Rockefeller/Carnegie seal of approval and license. And those licenses were only granted to the approved allopathic doctors. Chiropractors had to fight long and hard for recognition. Today you can find alternative modalities and their practitioners listed in the phone book.
I was gratified a few years back to see that a mainstream insurance company like Mutual of Omaha paid for Reiki practitioners in the OR in large hospitals on the East coast. WOW! Someone had finally recognized that Reiki lowered the amount of anesthetic needed for surgery while speeding up healing post op. Even though I'm a Reiki Master, I'm not holding my breath waiting for our Midwestern hospital to follow suit any time soon. Maybe one day. Because times are changing, at least alternative healers don't have to work underground anymore. At least for now. Who knows what will happen if Obamacare isn't repealed?
Are TPTB really afraid that untrained quacks are going to harm people or as I suspect, is it the loss of revenue that makes the bureaucracy go after alternative healers, not to mention mainstream doctors and researchers who find real cures for diseases like cancer that we'll never get to hear about? Most alternative healers I know have the integrity to first do no harm. I am certainly smart enough to know when I've reached my top level of competence. I would never do Reiki on a broken bone until a doctor had set it for instance. If I have a Reiki or hypnosis client that I can see needs a physician or a therapist, that is what I recommend to them. And I will only continue to work with them if they seek that help.
I believe there is a place for all types of healing. Mainstream medicine really excels at emergency care, necessary and reconstructive surgery, research etc. But for every day, simple problems or preventative health care, I'll take alternative every time. And that is the problem. How long will people have that choice of how to care for themselves or others when they are under the full totalitarian control of socialized medicine? Do you think alternative therapies will be acceptable once Obamacare is fully implemented? But where else will people have to turn once the doctors are gone?
In our area, doctors are being forced out of private practice and into hospitals with larger staff to take care of all of the ridiculous extra paperwork. Some have just quit their practice altogether if they were close enough to retirement or like my doctors husband had another business to fall back on. It will only get worse. Our wonderful Supreme Court Fossils have decreed that Obamacare is constitutional.
Apparently they have a different copy of the Constitution than the one I have. Can you say, 'Corporate owned'?
That takes us back to who is responsible for your health? Big Brother bureaucrats who don't have a medical degree or the brains to acquire one? Your overworked physician who's too busy dealing with all the new rules and regulations? Or ultimately, you?
There are things you can do to stack the deck in your favor. First of all educate yourself on health, nutrition, supplements, alternative therapies, etc, as much as you can. Then clean up your act if need be. Stop eating like a teenager whose parents are out of town for the weekend. Your body is a wonderful calculator. It will log in every extra calorie, every speck of sugar or hydrogenated fat, additives, preservatives, GMO's and even a few healthy ingredients that manage to sneak in. If you smoke, stop it. If I can stop a 3 1/2 – 4 pack a day habit cold turkey, so can you. I am not special. If I can make the decision to avoid recreational drugs, even as a teenager, I'm pretty sure a part of you recognizes the damage you are doing to yourself. And I would have to add prescription drugs and OTC meds to that list if over done.
Stop being lazy. Instead of badgering your over worked physician into giving you mood altering anti-anxiety meds, clean up your diet, go for a walk, check out herbs (St. John's Wort and Valerian). Look into supplements. Magnesium is wonderful for jangled nerves and sleeplessness. These things will work better and are safer than dangerous drugs.
If you are becoming too dependent on alcohol, either limit the amount consumed or stop drinking altogether. No, alcohol is not a necessary substance for the human body in spite of the encouragement to consume red wine. They also add, if you don't drink, don't start just for the health benefit. Red grape juice has similar properties and isn't addictive. If you can't control the amount you drink, don't take the first drink. You always have control over the first drink.
As far as diet, I'm so sick of this ridiculous merry-go-round of the scramble to find the latest diet that will melt the pounds off as you read the book. It seems to be what people expect and want as they seldom follow the plan for long. I think people will have to find out with experimentation what works best for them. I know people who follow a high carb/low fat diet and it seems to work for them. I would also have to point out that they are long distance runners. There is a reason why people like the Amish can eat the food they do, including their luscious desserts and stay so slim. Sustained hard physical work all day long. I could eat the same way several years ago when I had a hard physical job and worked 12-16 hours a day at it. Try loading 100 50lb. boxes floor to ceiling in a box truck and then carrying each one up two flights of stairs by hand when delivered. And that was only one part of the job. I could barely eat enough calories to keep me strong enough to load 400-600 lb. wooden ocean freight crates. But as I got older...
Anyway since that time, for me, a low carb diet works best. But don't think I haven't experimented with the 'experts' ideas. After I left the truck driving job, and still a size 6/8 but starting to gain I, like an idiot, decided to try the new way of eating put out by 'government experts'. That oxymoron should have been my first clue that this wouldn't turn out well. This was in the nineties. I think it was called the T-Factor diet based on the new government pyramid. Eleven servings of carbohydrates, ten to fifteen percent fat and low protein. I went from a 6/8 to a 14 so fast I had to borrow a dress from a friend for my daughter's wedding. That book went in the trash where it belonged and I went back to my natural food diet, cut back on carbs and got back finally to my normal size.
Then, I developed asthma and my asthma doctor put me on steroids. I went once more from a size 8 to a 20 this time. Gained eight to ten pounds a year. Did I mention I love prescription drugs? I kept complaining to my asthma doctor who wasn't listening. Finally, I kept a two month food diary of every food and drink that passed my lips and the level of exercise I was doing. Biked or power walked two miles a day and often biked 20 miles on the weekend, hiked 6-8 miles when not biking. Worked out on the Nautilus at the Y three times a week and I showed it to her. There was no way I should have been gaining like that. She looked it over and said, “Well, less than 2% of my clients ever react to the inhaled steroids like that.” I wanted to kick her little size 4 butt all over the room. She had told me it couldn't be the inhaler, yet that was the only new thing besides the job change. Did I mention how much I love doctors? Actually she's a sweetheart. I said, “Marta, why do I get the feeling that I'm going to die from heart disease or complication from diabetes or some other condition from my overweight and you're going to be standing at my grave site saying, 'But your lungs are clear.' There are other problems associated with overweight and I need to get this off of me before I develop them.”
Since that time the only thing I have found that will allow me to lose a little weight is to follow the food combining plan developed by a doctor called William Howard Hay. Actually Natural Hygiene works even better for me. It makes your body more alkaline, reducing inflammation. As one of the proponents of this way of eating said. There is really no disease other than incorrect eating. If you keep the body healthy, germs don't have a chance. Whether this is true or not, I can't say. I'm not a doctor. But this is the man who around the turn of the last century was curing type 2 diabetes eleven years before Banting and Best discovered insulin. So success leaves clues. As I said, you just have to figure out what works best for you, take responsibility for your own health and do your best to follow it.
Work with your doctor but do not put your health solely in his or her hands. You know those donuts, pizza, chips, fast food (I can barely make myself call it food) smoking etc is killing you. It is up to you to care enough about your health to make the necessary changes instead of expecting your overworked physician to work a miracle for you. That doesn't mean you have to be perfect. As I tried to teach my daughter and son, a treat means it is something you indulge in occasionally, not for every meal. I figure if I eat right 95-98% of the time, I'm way ahead of the game.
Locate a Naturopathic doctor if you are lucky enough to find one in your area. Or find a GP like mine who will listen and work with you. Beyond that, start preparing for a time when there may be no doctors. I believe it is coming. So, the answer to the original question would It is your responsibility. How can anyone care more about your health than you do or should? It's time for a new era in health care where your doctor and you are true partners in your care. I, for one, will welcome that.

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