“For a man to achieve all that is demanded of him he must regard himself as greater than he is.”– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Seven years ago, on March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Regardless whether Congress repeals, replaces, or reforms the ACA, the end-result will not be a Health Care System (HCS). At least not an HCS that will empower Americans to become healthy.
What America has, and will continue to have, unless there is a radical change, is a Disease Care System (DCS). Satan himself couldn’t have conspired to put in place (or maybe he did) such a deadly system in the name of health.
The interplay among pharmaceutical companies, agribusiness, insurance companies, the medical establishment and the government continues to sustain the Disease Care System (DCS). Yes, there are islands of wellness care in the ocean of disease care, but the waves of a demand for a ‘magic pill,’ a quick fix, and a profitable bottom line are eroding the shores of these islands of wellness care.
A Disease Care System you say? Yes, that’s what I said. We go to the medical doctor (M.D.) when we have a ‘dis-ease.’ We go when are not at ease in either our body or mind or both. To put us at ease, the medical doctor usually prescribes a medicine designed to treat the disease we present during our visit.
We typically don’t go to see the medical doctor to learn how to improve our health. Health is about the ability of our body to heal. The World Health Organization’s first principle in its constitution states that “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” [http://www.who.int/about/mission/en/] No, we don’t go to the doctor to become healthy. We go to get treated for a disease.
I called the Disease Care System (DCS) deadly. Why? There is an article that reports that “the modern American medical system” is responsible for more deaths than heart disease and cancer combined. [see http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/02/04/death-by-medicine-an-update.aspx ]
Do I dare blame those stalwarts of the American medical industrial complex for developing this deadly system? They were only responding to the needs and sometimes the demands of those to whom they sold their products (medicines/drugs) or delivered their services (operations/treatments).
Americans are notorious for wanting the quick fix, the simple solution, for wanting to have their cake and eat it, too. (The rise in obesity in America shows we are eating a lot more cake.) And so, Americans have what they asked for: a disease care system. They have said, “If I look and feel good, I must be healthy. Why should I eat wholesome food? Drink plenty of water? Move my body on regular basis? Think good thoughts? Fortify my immune system?”
Until recently, I was a reluctant supporter of the American medical industrial complex. I had my annual check-ups. Otherwise, like many Americans, I didn’t step foot into a doctor’s office unless there was a problem. For many years I read about ‘preventive medicine’ and the role of nutrition and exercise in avoiding issues like heart disease which ran in my family. I did my best to incorporate what I read into my lifestyle, but I was still a dependent of the DCS.
Finally, I decided to ‘unsubscribe’ from the Disease Care System (DCS). For the past 6 years, I have subscribed to a quintessential health model consisting of five essentials (‘quinte’ means five.): nurture the heart-brain, keep the nervous system flowing, oxygenate the body, provide good nutritional inputs and eliminate toxins. The wellness organization I subscribed to is called Maximized Living Doctors. (maximizedliving.com) These doctors show their patients how to live the “5 Essentials.”
Following the 5-essential health model, I became responsible for my well-being. I now had an approach to health and wellness that stood in contrast to the medical industrial complex. I no longer had to blindly place my faith in my medical doctor trusting that he, and sometimes she, knew best.
Confusion is probably the best excuse Americans have for their complicity in the disease care system. The medical industrial complex generates voluminous amounts of research which usually reaches consumers in the form of advertisements or articles in the media. At times the information is contradictory.
The other day I heard a report about how American cardiologists conflict with their peers in Europe as to whether salt should or should not be part of a ‘heart healthy diet.’ The American cardiologists say ‘no’ to salt while the European cardiologists take a more tolerant view of salt.
To add to the confusion, every advertisement for a drug must disclose the possible effects of the drug apart from the condition for which the drug was developed. As these effect lists get longer and longer, it’s no wonder consumers have tuned them out. All they want to know is if I take this pill, I’ll get better, right?
When was the last time you read the disclosure document that comes with the prescribed medicines you picked up at the pharmacy? Don’t you just do what your medical doctor tells you to do? The doctor’s name is followed by the initials “M.D’ which stands for Medical Doctor, someone trained about medicines among other things. They should know. They did graduate from a medical school, didn’t they?
However, there is something for which I will hold the medical community accountable. Generally, the medical community acts as though death is a problem to fix. This unstated belief permeates our treatment programs particularly when a disease has progressed to the point where death is imminent. Our health care professionals go to great lengths and expense to keep their patients alive. In hospitals, death is “a bad outcome.” Death is a problem to fix.
Death is a natural and inevitable part of the cycle of life. Right this moment, in each of our bodies there are cells being born, growing, and dying with new cells replacing the dying cells. We see the same cycle of birth, growth, death, and renewal in nature as we move through the seasons. Yet, we continue to treat death as an anomaly, something to avoid – avoid talking about, avoid facing truthfully, and ultimately to avoid happening to us.
Holding the belief that death is a problem to fix undermines our medical system. Treating death as problem causes us to spend a disproportionate amount of time and resources to extending life, regardless whether it is preserving quality of life.
The belief that death is a problem to fix leads to a related belief – that patients are problems to fix. The person becomes a patient identified by a disease. You are no longer a person that has a disease. You take on the identity of the disease. You are a diabetic, an obese person, a cancer patient, an alcoholic, a manic depressive.
The wise teach that what we focus on expands.
With our disease care system, we focus on the symptoms of disease. That’s is what is expanding – the treatment of the symptoms of diseases at an ever-rising cost. Treating symptoms provides a recurring revenue stream. Teaching how to maintain health to reduce the incidence and duration of disease is not as lucrative.
In a wellness or true health care system, the doctor and patient are working together to maintain health. The patient doesn’t wait for a symptom to show up before going to the see their partner in healing, the doctor. The patient is regularly visiting with the doctor to maintain wellness and to detect whether conditions exist which will lead to diseases. A wellness system teaches how to create an environment of health, not an environment of disease avoidance. It teaches steps to take to improve the body’s defense mechanisms, the immune system, to eliminate the diseased cells before they have a chance to overwhelm the body as is typical with the various forms of cancer.
The shift in the paradigm of a health care system from treating symptoms of disease to enabling wellness and healing not only leads to better patient outcomes but is also more economical. What is more cost effective in the long run: paying extra for eating organic food, buying supplements to provide nutrients that our foods can no longer supply, spending time to learn how to maximize the effectiveness of our immune system or 4 to 7 courses of chemotherapy at an average cost of $10,000 per treatment to treat a cancer? The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure” surely applies.
While we wait to see what happens to The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, I would recommend taking responsibility for your health care. Learn how to develop the healing capability of your body and mind. Take small steps in the direction of wellness each day rather than waiting for a symptom to manifest that is so painful you finally decide to go see your doctor. By the time you experience pain symptoms, as much as 40% of an organ’s functionality has already been lost.
The choice is up to you. Do you want to maintain the Disease Care System or do you want to participate in a Health and Wellness Care System? The choice is yours.
I believe that a person’s mindset in dealing with a disease is more important than what medicines the person does or doesn’t not take. Based on what I have read, the patient’s belief in the treatment plan is a significant determining factor in whether the plan will succeed.
That said, you should still take the time to learn about your treatment options and how well you feel they will work for you. Some options may be better than others.
Three keys to becoming successful:
1. Clarity – know what you want and focus on it.
2. Competence – define what you need to know and learn it — whether it be a strength or weakness — learn both types of skills
3. Discipline – keep to the course, one step at a time. Trust in your dream; let no one deter you from it.
In managing the care of the CaredFor, work toward keeping the CaredFor autonomous while still maintaining a safe space.
Be an advocate.
Avoid taking over the life of the CaredFor.
Based on a talk by Dr. Michael F Weisberg, MD at the 2016 DAGS (Dallas Area Gerontological Society – dags.org) Annual Fall Forum
Here’s a thought provoking reflection by one my favorite authors, Richard Rohr, OFM. on Paradox. As a CareGiver, you will live continually in the realm of Paradox.
Mystery Is Endless Knowability
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
How do we live the contradictions? Live them—not just endure them or relieve ourselves from the tension by quickly resolving them. The times where we meet or reckon with our contradictions are often turning points, opportunities to enter into the deeper mystery of God or, alternatively, to evade the mystery of God. I’m deliberately using the word mystery to point to depth, an open future, immense freedom, a kind of beauty and truth that can’t be fully spoken or defined.
Many mystics speak of the God-experience as simultaneously falling into an abyss and being grounded. This sounds like a contradiction, but in fact, when you allow yourself to fall into the abyss—into hiddenness, limitlessness, unknowability, a void without boundaries—you discover it’s somehow a rich, supportive, embracing spaciousness where you don’t have to ask (or answer) the questions of whether you’re right or wrong. You’re being held and so you do not need to try to “hold” yourself together. Please reflect on that.
This might be the ultimate paradox of the God-experience: “falling into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). When you can lend yourself to it and not fight it or explain it, falling into the abyss is ironically an experience of ground, of the rock, of the foundation. This is totally counterintuitive. Your dualistic, logical mind can’t get you there. It can only be known experientially. That’s why the mystics use magnificent metaphors—none of them adequate or perfect—for this experience. “It’s like. . . . It’s like . . . ,” they love to say.
Mystery is not something you can’t know. Mystery is endless knowability. Living inside such endless knowability is finally a comfort, a foundation of ultimate support, security, unrestricted love, and eternal care. For all of us, it takes much of our life to get there; it is what we surely mean by “growing” in faith. I can’t prove this to you. Each soul must learn on its own, hopefully aided by observing other faith-filled people.
Gateway to Silence:
Welcome what is.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Holding the Tension: The Power of Paradox (CAC: 2007), disc 3 (CD, MP3 download).
Most of us, when asked how did we know we are healthy, typically answer: “I look good and feel good.” This is not an adequate answer.
The World Health Organization defines health as: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”1 Health is about the ability of the body to heal. If we are healthy, we will be able to maintain our well-being.
If we maintain the body’s healing systems, such as the immune system, and eliminate anything that inhibits the efficiency of the body’s healing systems, it is likely that we will be able to avoid many diseases and overcome the diseases that do manifest in the body. As my doctor, often reminds me, “God didn’t leave anything out of the body necessary for healing. “We just have to eliminate anything that’s blocking the body’s ability to heal: toxins we ingest, breathe, or otherwise absorb; an excess of glucose and fat; a continued buildup of hormones released when we are under stress; inflammation; subluxations in the spinal column; lack of nutrients the body needs to function effectively; insufficient levels of oxygen in the bloodstream — to name just a few.
As I have written in Chapter 7 of my book, Become a Compassionate CareGiver. Reduce Stress. Avoid Burnout2 , it is more useful to develop a health model that works on keeping the body healthy rather than on focusing on ‘curing disease’. Disease is a symptom of a body whose healing systems are compromised. Find out where the healing systems have broken down and why, restore them, and the body will heal the disease.
A poignant example of thise approach to healing can be found in the book, The Cancer Killers3.
In this book, Dr. Charlie Majors documents how he overcame stage 4 bone marrow cancer without chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. With his oncologist, he discovered that toxins that had built up over his lifetime compromised his body’s ability to destroy cancer cells. Once he rebuilt the capability of his immune system to destroy cancer cells, the massive tumors inside his brain cavity disappeared. He no longer has bone marrow cancer. Now he is a ‘Cancer Killer,” as we all are when we maintain the capability of our immune systems.
It is cheaper to maintain your body’s healing systems than to pay for the medicines or surgeries to cure a disease.
1 The World Health Organization http://www.who.int/about/definition/en/print.html
3Majors, Dr. Charles, Lerner, Dr. Ben, with Ji, Sayer, The Cancer Killers – The Cause is the Cure, Orlando, FL: Maximized Living™, 2013
Death is not a problem to fix,
Nor a puzzle to solve.
Death is not
what you think
Death is not the end
unless you think
you are just your body.
Death marks the end
of your mind,
if the mind is merely
the activity of your brain.
Death is the end
of pain and pleasure,
as both require a body to feel
sensations and emotions.
No death, no fear.*
No death, no tears.
If you fear death,
you will fear
for your life.
You will fear life.
*”No Death, No Fear” is the title of a book
by Thich Nhat Hanh
August 2, 2014