“Mass is withering. The only things pushing against this trend are the factory mindset and the cultural bias toward compliance.”
– Seth Godin
The purpose of modern medicine isn’t to make us healthy. It’s purpose is to process a patient with an existing condition according to the rules.
Factories process. But the Industrial Revolution is over in America and we’re becoming more and more niched, more and more empowered and more and more individual. More “weird” as Seth Godin says it in his book “We Are All Weird.”
But, still, there are big interests – Big Pharma, Big Agriculture, Big Medicine, etc. – that really want and NEED us to cooperate. They want to define the diseases, the modes of treatments, sell us the drugs and let us leave it all to them.
It’d be a lot easier for them if we’d just go along with the program…
Except that this approach isn’t working anymore and “easier for them” isn’t really anything I aspire to contribute to. We are consumers and we have more choice than ever. We live in a free, capitalist society and we are CONSUMERS. Why don’t we act like it – or act like it enough – in the health and wellness sphere?
Stop Acting Like You’re Poor…
“When people are truly poor, ‘Take it or leave it’ is an appropriate strategy. Poor means no choice, so the provider gets to choose. Commodities were the best you were going to get, so marketing was primarily limited to ‘here, want some?’”
– Seth Godin
We need to stop acting like we’re poor when it comes to health, doctors and healthcare. We have choice. We have a lot of choice.
I think we also have a responsibility to seek and try new therapies and approaches and choose doctors and providers who want to COLLABORATE with us on our heath instead of dictate and just prescribe pills.
We should be challenging the status quo in healthcare every day.
Part of the problem, of course, is that most people only go to the doctor when they’re sick. Usually after a long time spent making bad lifestyle choices. This is where the “take it or leave it” attitude comes in on the side of the medical establishment. They’re used to seeing people who don’t want to change and don’t want to admit any part in the health predicament they find themselves in. So, they’re conditioned to just pander to that: “Here’s a pill, it’s not your fault, there’s nothing you can do about it anyway…”
When those of us who have devoted our lives to healing, growing and learning about health and healing our world show up, most doctors can find us confusing and even completely frustrating.
But we have so many options now. There’s a world of information at our fingertips. There are so many options. We can find someone to help us with anything at anytime – if we put in the work to find them.
For many, many years – after I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2004 – I was really careful to avoid doctors and hospitals at just about any cost. I was sick of having the conversation where I tell them I’m not on any medication to “control” the UC and I’m doing a Paleo diet and feeling fine and on and on. The response was always the same: “There’s no known cause for UC and no cure, diet has nothing to do with it, a “restrictive” diet will cause you more problems…” And, there is always my favorite, the classic, the Head of Gastroenterology at a major university hospital telling me he was concerned that my diet didn’t include bread. Bread…
More recently, I’ve been taking a more proactive approach to my healthcare. I’m the customer and I’m going to use the services of those who understand me, help me on my path to health and longevity and generally make my life easier and better.
I’m making the choice to seek out skillful, customer-service oriented and progressive people – while I’m healthy – so that I have a customized team of people to help me when I need it. This is the third option. It’s not blindly following along with what anyone in a white coat says, but it’s also not avoiding all doctors and healthcare practitioners and trying to do everything myself. It’s the middle ground and it’s me taking proactive control of things.
I’m the CEO of Adam’s Healthcare, Inc.
I interview. I hire. I fire. I reward competence. I do not tolerate incompetence, closed-mindedness or conservative or intolerant attitudes. It’s my “project,” my life, my team and my freakin’ money.
I also have a BS in Chemistry from UConn and was on my way to med school before being sidetracked by the lure of a biotech career after college. I’ve done real research, I’ve taken the same undergrad classes, I’ve shared classes with pre-med students (and been largely unimpressed) and technical terms or organic chemistry nomenclature doesn’t scare me. I’ve also seen the ugly, ugly side of venture capital and grant-driven research. I’m even ashamed to say that I did some bad science here and there because someone above me told me to. I know the game and studies showing some crazy new drug is “safe” are pretty meaningless to me as are a “lack of studies” showing the efficacy of something like the Paleo diet.
“Essentially, if you torture the data, it will confess.”
– Regina Nuzzo, PhD, a statistics professor at Gallaudet University (Washington, DC)
Assemble Your Team…
For those of us modern “health nuts,” I think we need to assemble a team of intelligent, progressive, like-minded thinkers to help us on our path and give THEM our business, our insurance cards and our money.
It can take a lot of time, legwork and money to find good people, but they can be found.
There’s a small, independent walk-in medical center a few towns over from me. They’re quick, clean, customer-oriented and they don’t make a big deal out of minor things. It took me some time to find them, but it was worth it. I go when I have a minor problem like a sinus infection, get my antibiotic and go home. An office visit there is $65 and they don’t even shame me when I say I don’t have any insurance – in fact, they go out of their way to keep my costs down since I’m paying out of pocket.
I think we all need to become CEOs of our own personal healthcare. We need to assemble an interdisciplinary team that’s unique to us and hold them to a high standard. You wouldn’t keep using a plumber who always shows up late and can never seem to fix the problem, why would you tolerate that behavior from a healthcare provider?
There are plenty of people left in the world who are happy with mediocre and don’t want to take an active role in their health or their healthcare. Let them have the doctors who are closed-minded to new things and consider themselves omnipotent. There are enough quality people out there to choose from if you look hard enough.
And, yes, even some traditionally trained, modern MDs can have a clue. There are more and more of them out there every day. They’re still the minority and will likely be for a while still, but they are out there. You just have to look and not settle.
You Need to Screen Well…
I’ve seen as many lousy alternative health practitioners as I have regular medical doctors. The solution to our healthcare problems isn’t to avoid medical doctors in every circumstance and only see an “alternative” person like a Naturopath.
Unfortunately, every discipline has it’s own set of standard procedures and practices now. And, I think the dismal state of health so many are in is an indication that very little is working in ANY of the existing systems. You can’t treat diseases of lifestyle with nutritional supplements – no matter how exotic – any more than you can treat them with drugs.
Even the Paleo diet isn’t the solution to every health problem known to modern man. There. I said it.
Virtually any mental health practitioner you go to is going to diagnose you with depression sooner or later. That’s all they have. Sometimes, they’ll diagnose you with anxiety first, prescribe Xanax or another benzo and, when the side effects of the Xanax have had enough time to build up and you become depressed and have difficulty concentrating, you get the depression diagnosis and an anti-depressant anyway. If you really struggle to concentrate, you can get an ADD diagnosis on top of it all and get some Adderall. The Adderall can make you MORE depressed and anxious and all three meds can battle it out in your body and make you more and more miserable.
“Inexplicably,” genuine, normal anxiety over significant life stresses can morph into full-blown mental illness with all these drugs in the mix. And the drug and therapy merry-go-round can go into full swing.
The above is the “conservative” approach to psych medicine. Nothing conservative about it except the ideology that underlies it and the resistance to change. Mention Medical Marijuana to the same doc who has you on Xanax, Adderall and an anti-depressant and you’ll likely be warned what a “dangerous drug” marijuana is. WTF?
My point in all this is that it’s really, really easy to get sucked in to a big mess if you let modern medicine run unchecked in your life. YOU need to be the CEO of Your Health, Inc. and make sure you’re directing your care and questioning providers. This goes for modern practitioners, alternative, holistic and everywhere in between. Yes, you can even visit a psychic crystal healer – as long as she’s a good one and you’re seeing tangible results…
This is the mass, mainstream medical establishment tacking on some massage or acupuncture to regular, pills and scalpels medicine. Most conventionally trained doctors have a somewhat tolerant attitude toward “alternative therapies.” The attitude usually being “It won’t help, but it can’t really hurt…”
The mass healthcare market tacked on this integrative thing because it was what the market wanted. They’re still doing the same medicine, but having someone come in and give you Reike after your surgery lets them pretend they’re being progressive and “integrative.”
“Please don’t dress up your general and pretend it’s particular. It’s not. When you do that, you’re not catering to the weird, you’re defending mass in any way you can.”
– Seth Godin
The “New” Integrative Medicine…
I think the path to real health and healing in the 21st century is to integrate medicine and medical care ourselves. We’re consumers and we’re living in the most abundant and connected world in human history. We can find people in any discipline to help us if we put in the time and effort to really look.
Yes, this can be costly and time-consuming, but healthcare is one of the biggest expenses of our society anyway. Why not spend our dollars where they count for us AND for those providing exceptional service and exceptional results.
Going to the doctor down the street – because you’re sick and he accepts your insurance – isn’t the path to the best healthcare you can find.
Focus on prevention, focus on finding the best of the best – before you need them desperately – and spend your dollars in ways that support what you believe in. You don’t buy dollar steaks at Walmart because you don’t want to support factory farming and Big Ag. Don’t go to doctors who don’t get results and see you as just another patient who needs a lifetime of meds.
“Consumers have more power than ever before. What a shame it would be if all we used it for was to get a Whopper for a few pennies less.”
– Seth Godin
Modern medicine doesn’t need to go away, it just needs to evolve. So does alternative and everything in between. Vote with your dollars. You’re a consumer.
Check out the great book “Cancer-Gate: How to Win the Losing Cancer War” by Samuel S. Epstein, MD, It delves into the politics, conspiracies and cover-ups in modern medicine, cancer research and cancer societies. Very eye-opening.
And, this video. “Run from the Cure” details the attitude of the medical, law enforcement and political establishments toward anything that might actually be helping the people who need help.
[…] I had a sympathetic and somewhat modern-thinking primary care physician who helped me and wrote the prescriptions for the prednisone. They are out there. You just have to look and leave the doctors you don’t resonate with. […]