Hello and Good Morning Everyone! Today’s topic is going to be “Typical Western Healthcare.”
I wonder if anyone else has noticed this, but every common prescription drug out there, the ones we’ve all been given to take in America, are now being exposed as not only fraught with side-effects, but actually very harmful and ultimately destructive to the human organs of the body. Like the liver, and the brain.
I would venture to say, that somewhere right after your 50th birthday, the average person in the US gets slammed with reality, if it hasn’t occurred already. The reality that things just aren’t right anymore, parts of your body seem to be the enemy. But you’ve still got to go to work. You’ve still got to feed the family. So you learn to cope and deal with the situation as best you can, until you retire early, or have a medical crisis that sends you home.
In America, I was just another mass commuter during the best years of my life, at my desk on the 22nd floor by 8 am. 15 years later, my health was so bad, my doctor told me I had IBS, was clearly not in shape, seemed to be exhausted as well as highly-stressed, and that if I didn’t change something quick, I’d be headed down a really bad road. Dr. Garcia was a real genius with extremely high standards for himself, so I took his words to heart. I was desperate for help.
More than twenty years since that appt., the improvements have been significant, but there is no denying that all the years of forced sitting with raised arms, the intense pressure from attorneys to “draft” their product as well as produce it, all took a real toll on my body. But there is also some good news in this story.
After I walked out of the elevator of the huge bank building for the last time, I discovered a doctor/author, an endocrinologist, a brilliant physician from India working in a hospital, east coast urban metropolis, turned advocate for his native ayurvedic background, on cassette tape. Most everyone knows Deepak Chopra by now, but listening to his kind voice explain to me that I didn’t have to accept the mass cultural conditioning of the west, completely changed my life. That indeed I could take control of my own health, with great results. Plus, he explained how to do this, in great detail.
So I tried it. No matter how weird or against the western protocol it was, I did it. In my thirties, I had little access to healthcare unless it was an emergency situation. My health required a major overhaul and I knew it. No longer would I smother my natural mind churning out boiler-plate legal documents en masse day after day, until the familiar knot/baseball formed in my left trap muscle. No longer would I lament and feel embarrassed that my backside resembled an over-stuffed cushion from sitting endless hours, endless months, endless years. I won’t even talk about endless minutes.
After I stopped the commute and took back my life, I was getting close to my forties. Without the amazing paycheck anymore, I couldn’t go to a doctor. No insurance. They wouldn’t see me. The words “self-pay” in the doctor’s office were like dirty words. No, we aren’t accepting new patients meant no, the doctor doesn’t accept patients without insurance.
Feeling a little “pi,” I am compelled to point out that I am a native citizen of the US, but because I wasn’t pregnant, and had no children, it was basically impossible to qualify for any type of aid, no matter how sick I might be. But everytime I would try, the waiting room would be filled to capacity with Hispanic women and their children. All being ushered into their appointments, all speaking in animated loud voices in Spanish. Believe me, as I sat there in the waiting rooms, ignored, unable to speak the language, I totally understood discrimination. Actually it felt like I was on some other planet entirely.
After everything I’ve gone through, all the tests, x-rays, interviews and exams, what it took to finally receive healthcare was to become legally disabled. But would you like to know what my primary doctor once said to me in one of our first visits? “I’ll work with you here, but you can’t cause me any trouble.” He doesn’t allow me to speak while he is writing in his file, or looking at the computer screen they use now, which is 99.9% of the allotted 10-12 minutes appt. time. In fact, the nurse that first sits me in a treatment room does the interview, writes in the file what meds I am requesting, and basically does what I might expect the doc to do. When he does enter the room, he gives a cordial greeting and goes to the computer. He examines the file, comments on the basics, and then explains that my meds have been refilled. He closes the file, as he looks at me and smiles, and that’s about it, really! Of course as he is exiting, he turns his head sideways to emphasize I must come back right away and submit for blood-work and I still haven’t gotten a mammogram, and he wants me to be seen by an ob/gyn for yearly cervix smear. Then there is the spine/scoliosis issue, which requires x-rays and bone density tests. I come out of those places glowing like a green plastic alien toy.
Unless I am partially paralyzed in pain, or caught in a chronic severe pain situation, he will not prescribe anything for pain. It is posted all over the waiting room – No narcotics! I’m no fool, so if I’m in real pain, I just go straight to the emergency room at the hospital and pray they don’t try to give me that horrible drug toridal, which burns through your veins like napalm and does very little if anything for severe pain.
One thing my present primary care doctor did do, was indirectly aid in saving my life, as he referred me to a brilliant surgeon in Austin after a frightening night in the ER. What killed my father was trying to kill me. Whether it was due to fluoride, chlorine, ddt, hydrogenated food products, salt, sugar, bpa, and one and a half million other poisons routinely served up to Americans, my poor little gall bladder was clogged and no longer functional. I can honestly tell you that the pain you experience when you have a gall bladder attack is like nothing else. It feels like your shoulder blades are in a vice growing ever tighter and harder to breathe. You can’t stand up straight and you can’t focus. I became borderline hysterical, throwing myself onto floor cushions face-down, thinking something was terribly wrong with my back. I couldn’t get to the ER fast enough!
I truly and honestly believe with all my being that “my people up there” watch out for me. Unless I am just randomly very lucky on a regular basis. Anyway, a brilliant young man/modern surgeon performed a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. And luckily I didn’t die by the hand of his equally young anesthesiologist either, although I felt like beating him soundly when I felt human again. Compared to most people, I must have a really small mouth/opening, and I woke up with two inches of white paste cemented on my tongue and my throat felt two inches wider… At least I woke up, right?
The old way to perform this operation was to open up the person with a hugely long incision that was extremely dangerous and took months and months to heal. After my experience of this amazing advance in surgery, there were only 3 or 4 tiny incisions around the area, and even though at first you feel like you’ve been run over by a tractor wheel, it all heals up really quickly, and I can barely see the tiny marks now. You can still function without this organ, but it is not without issues, despite what you will hear.
One of the few people in this world I know as a good friend, since grade-school in fact, whom I highly respect, is a doctor in a very large city. I am thankful for the great doctors we have in this country today, without which I would not be alive. But government and insurance has them so strapped down that some of them seem to have lost their real intention in the first place, to heal. In my opinion, always going to a standard American primary care doctor as you age, might not be the only avenue to try unless you are purposely clueless or striken. There is a quote from somewhere that I agree with, that says you cannot understand the part, if you do not first examine the whole. It makes perfect sense to me, but doctors in modern practice today do not waste time or lose money.
I’m sure I’m in for an interesting ride, as I’ve made a personal decision not to subject myself to continuous blood draws, unending x-rays, or the highly-invasive pelvic exam. I know that some people will be screaming at this point, because all these tests do have a place and a good reason to do them, in some cases. But in my case, I feel pretty healthy, all disabilities aside. No flu shots for me, no vaccines. I’ve had enough of them, thank you. Sometimes, I look at the state of health of the average American and it is almost shocking that any of our kids make it to college. That is the sad part. The diseases only common to adults in past generations are now in our children. At least I wasn’t given anti-depressants when I was a teenager. There’s no telling what this sort of brain-altering drug is doing to us. Look at what the children are doing. American pharmaceutical companies totally run the whole show here, we know that. But their total connection with the FDA has the door wide open for greed and the “business” of it all to flourish, which was their plan all along, since it is a business, first and foremost, right? It would seem to me when the children are being so obviously affected, something must change and quick.
Purposely, and also due in large part to other priorities, I have not paid my prescription insurance yet for this year. I also have not checked in with my primary for a cholesterol test because I am off the Crestor completely now, since he refused a refill call-in and I couldn’t drive that week. I also did not hunt down any hospitals for a mammogram, nor did I drive 35 miles to the other side of Austin to the fancy/schmancy Ob/gyn office to sit with all the pregnant girls. Also, if you require any medication for depression or anxiety, or heaven-help you if they’ve labeled you mental, you will find it awkward and difficult to get your refills without presenting at appt. with some other “billable” problem. The only reputable psychiatrist within a 40-mile radius costs more per hour than the best criminal attorney in Dallas and she doesn’t accept Medicare.
Early-on my doctor told me he was taught in medical school that a patient with scoliosis does not usually have pain (wow) and he doesn’t ever prescribe the “benzo’s” for anxiety because of their highly addictive nature. I am not sick, and I ask myself, WTF? His big ploy/pressure now to get me in there is the issue of cholesterol, and I quit the statin drug several months ago. It seems research is showing that cholesterol in and of itself, isn’t what affects cardiac disease after all. And I am not willing to ingest a drug daily that could be killing my liver. I can figure out the diet and I can be disciplined, unlike President Clinton was in those days, likely… Like my dad used to say, I’m trying to look all the way down the runway, not just at the hood ornament … so to speak…
So considering the federal government, you are probably thinking “Good Luck with that, sister!” For literal months I have agonized over this, paperwork piling up, unopened letters looking official from insurance companies, stupid AARP always trying to get my money… I suspect in no time at all to be hearing from Social Security regarding my disability payments, requiring my immediate attention. Who knows what brand of hell I face.
Every single day and every single night I lay here and imagine the day when “alternative” therapies and “psychiatric” services will be accepted, affordable or offered through the gov’t. for people at the end of their “working” lives who look to our nation’s healthcare providers for help and services. But as you may come to realize, healthcare in America is not affordable, if you can get “in” with insurance. In America to “qualify” you must have beaucoup insurance, or be a recognized celebrity of infinite wealth. It’s very clear that patients with Medicare are starting to be ignored or turned away or taken for a long and unpleasant ride without a happy ending.
You know, when I was married to Charlie, who was an auto mechanic, we quickly recognized the chance to run our own business. The interesting thing to me about mechanics was how you might find endless different ways to address someone’s car problem. You could be a parts replacer, buying part after part until something fixed the problem. Or you could be highly resourceful, like Charlie, and depending on the customer’s financial situation, you might find used parts, make adjustments to the timing to make it run better, pull out old plugs, clean ’em up, and put ’em back… I could see quickly that it was in his hands how expensive the job became… how long it took, and how much it would disrupt the peoples’ lives.
That’s what has me scared about doctors nowadays. They have the power to: 1. Bug the heck outta you, 2. Completely waste your valuable time when you’d rather be home alone dying in bed, 3. Expose you to probably multiple kinds of germs and viruses of the ever-present “children of the waiting room,” (Stephen King?) 4. Send in young girls with frenetic energy wearing glasses to take your blood when you know even an experienced phlebotomist looks instantly serious at the sight of your arm, and finally 5. End up with no time to talk to you, have nothing new to share except to nag for more tests, and ignore any real pain, to end up prescribing a drug for me that will ultimately cause cognitive decline or some other total organ/system failure I’m not willing to risk! I know these guys can offer up good advice, but for some reason, they are solidly glued to that prescription pad. All my doc seems to be willing to offer me is minimal, as long as I don’t cause him any trouble. Wow. And as long as I drive to the big city and submit to radiation on my lady parts. I am so thankful when I see the new research indicates that the x-rays are inconclusive, unreliable and dangerous to boot, being given year after year. There’s just too much room for error and individual interpretation not to mention you are radiating a highly sensitive human body (searching for cancer???!!!). (Every single human being is different; this is just my story.)
In ten years, I predict this type of medical mentality will be a sad practice of the past, and I pray a caring, progressive and intelligent healing community in cooperation with a reformed gov’t has emerged. Of course, the little guys will always have to fight the big boys with big checkbooks, God Bless Our Democracy! But I have a strong feeling there is reason to hope. Everytime I see the face of a bright, fresh and intelligent young person, committing their lives for the betterment of this world, I see hope. I know other generations before us may have said these same words, but these kids today are different. The ones raised by progressive minds are healthy. They are like bright lights, ready for anything. And they see all the suffering and decay and mismanagement. Thank God They See It.
So I am on the ten-year plan now, looking down the runway to 68, and the picture I see is stronger, straighter, more confident, more educated and informed, and able to function well on every level. I am not defined by my disabilities and I do not limit my expectations for myself because of them. And although I will always seek medical advice from a professional when I need it, I always question authority!
The cost of dental services in America, along with the huge cost of psychiatric consultations, are two “parts” of the healthcare system completely out of reach for most, might I say, the majority of people here. While I have never been an advocate for free rides, it is a real and true shame that working adults and older people on substantially smaller incomes, have little if no alternatives. It is also a huge reflection on another reason our system is broken, and our people are not being healed. We are the cattle that keep the wheels of American Drug Corporations turning. You have to treat the whole organism, mind, body and spirit to heal. “First, do no harm.” In years to come, history will reflect how lack of proper dental care and toxic chemicals in the food and water supply were the major precursors to all American disease of the past century.