I am frustrated. I’ve heard too many stories lately that just make me so sad.
A 30 something woman who has struggled with feeling ‘unwell’ for years. She has removed many foods from her diet and eats mostly plant based. After a recent heart episode (for no diagnosable reason), the doctor casually mentions that she obviously has a chronic autoimmune disease. The way he said it, was as if she should already have known this and been relaxed about it. But he also offered no remedies.
A 60 year old woman who struggles with tiredness and pain since overcoming breast cancer a decade ago. She has made numerous visits to the naturopath with different recommendations of how to improve her health each time. She follows all the instructions but still hesitates to say yes to things and people because she may not feel well enough to follow through.
A young teen who suffered what should have been a mild concussion at worst but has been unable to attend school or participate in any activities for two years without extreme exhaustion and severe headaches. Doctors have suggested all sorts of medications and diagnoses and nothing has changed.
A teenage girl dies from heart failure – but the doctors don’t know why her heart failed. Her family believes she had lymes disease but the doctors wouldn’t confirm this and didn’t respond to all the times she said her heart didn’t feel right over a multi-year period.
Now I will freely admit that healthcare has never been my area of interest. I don’t love the study of science and have not concerned myself overly with my own health. I tend to be more interested in mine and other’s spiritual condition than their physical one. Its just always been more within my interest and gifting - until I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease myself.
15 years ago I was sitting at work one day (I was working part time as a bookkeeper) and experienced a bout of dizziness. I felt unable to drive home, so called my husband to come and get me. I did not drive a car again for 3 months. I was experiencing chronic neck pain and debilitating headaches which kept me in bed in complete darkness. The usual headache remedies did nothing. Numerous doctor’s visits resulted in comments of ‘you’re just stressed’ and various medications. The final medication which I was on for 8 years was a low dose anti-depressant, which I was told had ‘no side effects at that dosage’. Eventually I was told I had mild fibromyalgia. What improved my health more than anything was a chiropractor. The first thing he told me was that my visits would be pointless unless I drank plenty of water and walked 30 minutes a day. Part of me believes that the walking did more for me than the chiropractic visits, but I definitely improved. Those visits were the reason I was able to wean myself off the anti-depressant.
As it turned out, the drug was not free from side effects. I discovered a complete inability to lose weight while on the drug regardless of how much exercise I got. Before the initial symptoms I was doing pilates every day and between year 4 and 6 on the drug I was going to the gym 3 nce times a week using the elliptical, rowing machine, treadmill and lifting weights. I also began to need eyeglasses during this time. Before the drug I had perfect vision. Upon finding out which medication I was on, the optometrist informed me that deteriorating eyesight is a known side effect.
Since weaning myself off the meds, I’ve been doing ok. I still have chronic neck pain (I’ve had a few car accidents) and see a chiropractor regularly. I have random pain regularly that I can’t explain – don’t ever give me a light punch on the shoulder – it will hurt. But I have found how to manage it.
What concerns me is how we approach our healthcare as a society. Most of us go to the doctor whenever something is going on with our bodies that we don’t understand. And too many of us are suffering in ways that the doctors have no answers for. They don’t seem to recognize an underlying problem so they treat the symptoms. But that just results in a never-ending parade of symptoms. And although I like the idea of natural remedies that are typically prescribed by naturopaths, they too seem to be symptom based. And so we don’t solve the underlying issue.
And again, typically, I care more about our spiritual health than our physical health. Except that they are intertwined. The current wisdom for our spiritual health lately is to follow our dreams and live up to our potential and be your true self. My true self doesn’t have pain and weakness and my dreams require a whole lot of energy that I don’t have much of the time. My physical health affects my spiritual health because if I don’t feel well physically, then I don’t feel well spiritually. There are exceptions to this, I know. There are heroes among us whose spirits get stronger as their bodies get weaker – but the stories of those people generally end in death. Sorry if that’s blunt but its true – those are the ones whose diagnosis is terminal and death is imminent.
I’m talking about people who are still focused on living and working and raising a family or loving on our grandchildren. We shouldn’t be walking zombies. But that’s what a lot of us feel like. So what is the cause? Anybody’s guess I suppose, but I’m starting to think about all the chemical cocktails in my life. I’m reading about endocrine disruptors and how toxicity can affect our bodies. I am no expert on these subjects so I will not comment further but I do think we need to talk about these things more and commiserate about symptoms less.