when to go to the doctor

Recent events as well as my foray into the world of doctors has got me to thinking about how we rely on the medical establishment to fix us and what it means to actually be broken. Over the past several decades, most people in this country have come to rely on doctors more often and for more and more problems. I don’t want to get into the politics of this here. For now it’s enough to say that our current ideas of what is healthy and what isn’t has turned health care in this country into a massive industry with the power to control much of our lives from cradle to coffin.

and i don’t like it

Doctoring, as with most things in the 21st century, is highly impersonal and disconnected from nature and the natural order of things. Our society has little tolerance for illness of any sort and if there’s so much of a hint that an illness is rooted in or even influenced by emotion, you might as well just give up the idea that you have a say in how you will be treated. No, no “options” for you. You will be analyzed, medicated and if you don’t do as your told, institutionalized for your own good. Check your freedom at the clinic door.

When a child is born in today’s modern world, before she is suckled she is tested and given a score. Apgar scores are happily announced along with sex and weight as if this were a grand accomplishment. She will be tested, scored and ranked through every stage of growth. Throughout her life she will be dictated to by doctors, schools and government programs forcing vaccinations, drugs to control acne, weight, behavior and mood. She will have her teeth straightened, hormones adjusted, wrinkles erased, and tummy and titties tucked and tweaked. And when she’s ready to die, she will be denied dignity and her body embalmed and vaulted against decay.

We need to come to grips with this incredible mass denial of our nature. We will not live better through chemistry and if we hope to truly understand what is normal we need to get back to the true nature of things. To nature itself. One way to do this is to redefine our relationship with the health care industry, taking back our power, and maybe even work on our personal and collective definition of what is normal and healthy.

With this in mind, I’d like to offer my personal quick guide to when it is necessary to enlist the aid of a doctor or other health care services, because, they do have their place and when restricted to the things they do well, we all benefit greatly. Mainstream medicine is really really good at dealing with things that are broken. Doctors and hospitals are at their best when dealing with emergency situations and acute conditions. They suck at chronic ailments, non-life threatening conditions and any sort of long-term health care.

So here is my general guide on when to see a doctor.

* Emergencies such as: heart attack, stroke, shock, anaphylaxis or other uncontrollable allergic reactions.
* Accidents which result in trauma such as head trauma, broken bones, gaping wounds, massive bleeding, etc.
* Animal or human bites, mauling.
* Fevers over 104 degrees.

When to see a psychologist/psychiatrist:
* suicidal without good reason (i.e., when it is not a quality of life situation resulting from terminal illness).

Minor or common non-life threatening illnesses are best left to the wisdom of our own bodies to heal. We can help ourselves and others with comfort care–teas, soups, soft blankets, kind words, kisses on the forehead. Minor accidents can be taken care of by cleaning the wound, applying heat or cold, healing salves (best if made by you or an herbalist or wise woman).

Chronic conditions are best left to common sense, herbalists, wise women, body workers (massage therapists, reiki practitioners, acupuncture/acupressure, etc.). If all this fails to help and drastic measures are needed (i.e., drugs, surgery) then by all means, avail yourself of what is out there in mainstream medicine, but this should be your last resort, not your first.

There’s one thing I have not address and that is cancer. There is so much mythology, fear and loathing that comes with cancer that it is important for each of us faced with this particular dance to make her/his own decision as how to approach treatment. There is a wealth of information out there but very little of it not under the control of the AMA and pharmaceutical companies, but there are alternative approaches that can be used along with or instead of chemo, radiation and surgery. You just have to decide for yourself what is best for you.

But then, that is true of all things. What we need to be reminding ourselves of is that there are different approaches and we don’t have to give up our rights and our power to deal with our ills.

One last thing…

It is NORMAL to feel sick, unhappy, unloved, grief-stricken, or downright miserable for no fuckin reason at times. I don’t know where the notion came from that we must always be happy and satisfied, but it’s a really dumb thing to think. Our society does not want us to feel bad (emotionally or physically) and when we do feel bad, we are supposed to get over it within a few days or maybe a week or two, but then that’s it. Back to happy. Well, it ain’t so and it is disastrous to deny our sadness, anger or grief. There’s a reason people suffer anxiety attacks and depression–it’s time to slow down or stop everything we’re doing so that we can heal. We need to not fear the shadow side of things. We need to move through it just like we need to move through the stages of a common cold.

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