Healing is a shared responsibility.
I’ll admit that I have some gripes about “conventional” medicine but I also thank God for it, as it has saved the life of my husband twice now. Without 21st century technology and advanced medical research, many health emergencies would end only in death as they did 50 years ago. So it’s the “emergency” medical protocols that really have my respect. That’s when conventional medicine shines, in my opinion.
But back to my husband … his medical issue stemmed from a birth defect in his heart, necessitating open heart surgery. Although, admittedly, we both were sort of panicky about that, based on the reactions of the medical staff you would’ve thought this wasn’t much more than a tonsillectomy! Without conventional emergency medicine, well, let’s just say there wouldn’t have been a happy ending.
Then about four years after the successful open heart surgery, a nasty bacterial infection planted itself on the compromised area of my husband’s heart. The treatment? A couple of months of strong intravenous antibiotics. Once again, without this “conventional” treatment, the result could have been devastating.
Conventional vs Alternative Medicine, not an "Either-Or" Situation
These experiences taught me a lot on several levels. On a personal level, going through these bumps in the road with my husband really intensified my gratitude for the small things. They also acted as a wake-up call prompting me to stop taking life and relationships for granted.
On a philosophical level, I learned that, no matter how imperfect the healthcare system is, modern emergency medicine saves countless lives and I shouldn’t take that for granted either. I realized that my frustration with conventional medicine has nothing at all to do with emergency medicine, but rather with the stance that conventional healthcare = pharmaceutical drugs. My frustration with that aspect of conventional medicine was actually strengthened through these experiences because the success of modern emergency medicine is highly dependent on the pre-existing strength, and health, of one’s body. So despite these groundbreaking procedures . . . no, actually BECAUSE of these groundbreaking procedures, it becomes that much more important for us to take responsibility for our own health. I must control what I can – treat my body well, give it the tools it needs to heal – so if something that is beyond my control comes along, I’m as prepared as I can possibly be. It is then that that modern medicine can be most effective in helping me fix the problem.
Healthcare is a team effort. And YOU must be the CAPTAIN of that team!
Interacting with the hospital staff provided me with great insight as well. I found 99% of them to be brilliant. I felt I could trust both the doctors and nurses to offer my husband the very best care. However, no matter how brilliant, no matter how trustworthy, nobody was worthy of a 100% handing over of my husband’s health and life to them. There has to be a team effort rather than a dictatorship in place when it comes to overall healing and recovery. The patient must understand what is happening, why it is happening, and be a part of the decision-making.
I felt it was the medical staff’s responsibility to throw punches at the infection, but still very much our responsibility to prepare my husband’s body for the fight. We maintained accountability for things like nutrient supplementation, hydration, proper diet and appropriate activity levels both in and out of the hospital, all in collaboration with the medical staff. In addition, we maintained records of medications and dosages and also researched interactions and side effects including nutrient-depleting effects, of those medications. Our health is too precious to simply hand over to a third party.
You wouldn't hire a firefighter to build you a house . . .
Firefighters are smart. We depend on them to come to the rescue if our house catches fire. Once the fire is out, these emergency responders go on their way. They don’t return to rebuild the house – that’s not their expertise. It’s not what they were trained to do. Common sense, right? Along those same lines, medical doctors aren’t trained in nutrition or alternative therapies. In fact, MD’s receive approximately six hours of nutrition education in medical school. Strange, but true. So depending on them to provide us with insight or advice on this subject is sort of like calling on the firefighters to rebuild our house. It doesn’t make sense and won’t get the job done. The MD alone can’t provide us with all of the information we need to make informed decisions about our health. Therefore we must do our own research or, even better, we must seek out a practitioner whose focus is on nutrition and alternative healing methods, to be part of our healthcare team.
One illustration of this potential gap between conventional medicine and natural healing is an experience we had when my husband was in the hospital with the heart infection. As I mentioned earlier, he was put on a powerful and lengthy round of intravenous antibiotics – a protocol that was very necessary but also has risk factors of its own, one being the serious depletion of the body’s healthy bacteria (probiotics). This sets the patient up for serious infections of the gut like C-diff as well as ongoing compromised immune function. It is all preventable by supplementing with a high quality, therapeutic strength probiotic (this information is second nature to those in the natural health community.) Unfortunately, although the nurses seemed to be aware of this, my husband’s protocol did not call for a probiotic. The medical staff was very happy to oblige when we asked to have it added to his daily regimen, however what would have happened if we hadn’t known to ask for it? So what you don’t know can hurt you and can lead to a variety of unnecessary problems down the road.
Amazing things happen . . .
So the bottom line is this: it is not conventional medicine versus alternative medicine. It is not “either this, or that.” To get the most from healthcare, we must educate ourselves on all aspects of health and healing. From nutritional support to build the body up to emergency medical procedures when a life-threatening situation occurs. If we fail to acknowledge the multitude of possibilities available to achieve optimal health and longevity, we are shortchanging ourselves. Most importantly, never give up 100% control of your health and well-being to anyone, no matter how brilliant they seem or how amazing their reputation may be! We have one life to live here on earth and one body to live it in. Healing is a shared responsibility. Be the captain of your healthcare team and you be the one to call the shots. When we approach healthcare in that manner, amazing things happen. My husband is proof of that!
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