Humans are wired to seek security. It’s how we survived, individually and as a species. It’s in our genes.
Seeking security leads us to entrench in the familiar, which includes the way we do things and how we think. We become “set in our ways.” We forget how to venture out and explore. We develop a fixed mindset.
That’s the contracted state I found myself in a couple years ago. I had the security of familiarity. But I wasn’t very happy. Truly, I was bored with myself. Continue reading →
Choice is our greatest power. It’s what allows us to use all our resources to live our best lives. But the consumer culture trains us to make decisions by default rather than by conscious choice. Truth is, questioning the status quo and making conscious choices can seem daunting. Many of us are happy to let others decide because we don’t know how to make choices consciously.
When Pamela Wible MD held a meeting to find out what would create an ideal medical experience for patients in her town, she discovered they wanted an integrative approach to their medical care. What exactly is that? And why would they want it?
Just who is fixing the healthcare system? That’s the question I asked at the end of last week’s blog when I discussed having empathy for our doctors, who must work in a broken system.
So, who is trying to make it better? Apparently not our governments who, despite sometimes-good intentions, become bogged down in bureaucracy. And not conventional medical channels, through which it takes 17 years for new information to make it into clinical practice.
In a limited way, we can contribute to making things better by keeping ourselves as healthy as possible so as not to over-use the system. We don’t have to ask permission or medical sanction to eat fresh food, plant a garden, think differently about our stress, take probiotics, get a pet, meet new people, move our bodies, improve the quality of our sleep, and be of service to others.
Regular readers will know that I’m a fan of active engagement in our health-related decisions. To do this effectively, it helps to know several things about the healthcare system. This understanding will relieve your frustration with the way things are, and it may also make you more empathetic toward the doctor who doesn’t listen when you try to participate.
1. The healthcare system is a product of the consumer culture, and is designed around money.
Doctors are paid for a very short appointment time with each patient, usually about 10 minutes. That means appointments are booked close together and the doctor is invariably running late by the time the first patient leaves.
From the patient point of view, this means a long wait after arriving at your scheduled time. It also means your doctor may seem rushed, harried, and unwilling to listen to your explanation of what’s going on with your health. And, if you have the impression that doctors only want to hear about one issue at the appointment, that’s true. Ten minutes doesn’t allow enough time to sort out even one problem, never mind a complex health issue.
Take a book, listen to your iPod, or decide to enjoy leafing through magazines you don’t normally read.
Meditate. Put on your sunglasses and no one will be the wiser. You’ll be refreshed instead of frazzled by the wait.
Book your appointment far enough in advance so that you can get the first slot in the morning or after lunch.
Don’t plan your next activity for the day based on the time you would be free if you got in to see the doctor as scheduled. You know it isn’t going to happen, so be realistic and save yourself the stress.
I welcome reader comments on my blog. They get me thinking. Here’s one, in response to my post, written after I tripped and gave myself a black eye.
Great blog today. I love how an unfortunate event becomes blog fodder. 😊
It made me aware that I hadn’t actually thought of my black eye as unfortunate. And with that awareness, I remembered the story that first shifted my thinking about good and bad fortune.
Here’s a charming version, narrated by philosopher, writer, and speaker, Alan Watts. Born in England, he moved to the US in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. Watts, who died in 1973, is best known as an early interpreter and popularizer of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience.
Making decisions about health can be complex and frustrating. How can you possibly know what is the right thing to do?
The complicating factor is that most of us make decisions with only one-half of our brain. For example, suppose you want to know what is the best diet. Your left brain will have a field day. You can listen to interviews, read blogs and books, ask family and friends. You’ll find masses of eating rules, opinions, and theories—many of them conflicting.
With all of that to consider, your left brain may be driven to distraction trying to determine the pros and cons of these various approaches. It may seize on something and make a plan with great enthusiasm, only to have it fail shortly after you implement the plan. That makes no sense to you because the idea or theory was such a logical conclusion from the information you found. Frustrating? No doubt!
As I mentioned recently, testing is one of the hallmarks of personalized medicine. These days there are so many tests to help zero in on what’s really happening in your body. When used judiciously, test results can provide comprehensive information which helps your doctor or health coach develop an individualized plan for you.
Thanks to technology, doctors are able to see images of your heart and carotid arteries in action, graphs showing a heart under the stress of walking up an incline, and more graphs of your heart beats and blood pressure during daily activities. They can see your brain in glorious colour and your body in three dimensions. They’re able to monitor the level of all manner of things in your blood. They can measure good and bad bugs in your gut, and find out if you have genes that predispose you to certain conditions you’d rather not know about.
Here’s the evidence. In full colour, an unretouched photo.
So…how did I get a black eye, and how does it relate to assumptions?
I tripped on a curb. Well, not a curb exactly. I was stepping onto the accessibility ramp that transitions the pavement to the sidewalk.
There was no snow or ice. I was not in a hurry. I was not distracted by my phone or iPod. I did not faint and then fall. I was wearing flat shoes that are old friends. There was no obvious reason for this to happen. Continue reading →