“The… patient should be made to understand that he or she must take charge of his own life. Don’t take your body to the doctor as if he were a repair shop.”
I have a big problem with our medical system.
Wait! Before you stop reading, please hear me out.
I hate that:
- we have come to rely so heavily on technology that if there isn’t a mainstream test to confirm a diagnosis, we’re often told “there isn’t a problem.”
- we have decided that some widespread health conditions are “normal,” even when they prevent us from living fully and vibrantly.
- we have elevated our doctors to the status of gods, expecting them to dole out health via pills and procedures and believing that, if they can’t fix us, we’re doomed.
- alternative healthcare providers are still often viewed as second-class citizens within the system, rather than as full team members with a different, but equally valuable education and point of view.
The biggest problem of all is that we have turned ourselves, the users and intended beneficiaries of the system, into numbered specimens on an assembly line of treatment. We’ve seemingly forgotten that each of us is incredibly and wonderfully unique, as is each problem we face, medical or otherwise.
Like I said, I have a big problem with our medical system.
It’s designed to solve equations where diagnosis + medical intervention = cure.
This is a problem.
It’s a problem because people are complex beings. And if we are truly going to heal (as opposed to simply masking our symptoms, which is what often happens when we stick to using the faulty equation above) we require multifaceted treatments, with at least some of those interventions falling outside of “conventional” medicine. In other words, it’s rarely as simple as diagnosis + intervention = cure.
The good news: I believe the system is (slowly) changing for the better.
The even better news: We don’t need to wait for the system to shift fully from disease management to holistic healthcare in order to be as healthy as we want and deserve to be; we simply have to take back our personal power and assume responsibility for own health.
How? Be your own health hero!
When it comes to your health, you know you better than anyone else. After all, you are the only person who has lived through all of your experiences, and only you can recognize when things don’t feel right. Most of all, you are the only one who lives in your body, and so, you’re the only one who will work diligently every single day for your own best interests.
To that end, here are three ways you can become your own health hero:
- Decide that “normal” isn’t good enough, especially if what’s being called “normal” doesn’t feel good to you.
I had a client who came to me because she wanted guidance on how to do a healthy detox protocol. During the course of our conversation, I found out that she pooped only two to three times per week. Although this wasn’t satisfying to her and though she admitted to wondering why she couldn’t move her bowels every day, like other people, she had come to accept it as “normal,” because it had been this way for the 20+ years. Can you imagine?!
As part of her desire to boost her detoxification abilities, we needed to be sure the pathways that carry toxins out of the body were working efficiently, starting with a daily bowel movement. So first, we focused on getting her to poop regularly.
Turns out that it was a fairly easy fix. Based on the information she gave me, we figured out with relative ease that dairy constipates her. Now, she knows if she chooses to have cheese or ice cream, she’ll be backed up for a few days. Thankfully, she chooses to keep dairy out of her diet for the most part, so her new normal is pooping every day!
The point is that, for years, her doctor and family members said that pooping a few times a week was “fine” and “probably just how her body works,” even though it wasn’t feeling good to her to live that way. She trusted herself enough to seek help outside of mainstream healthcare, and together, she and I were able to resolve the problem so that she doesn’t have to live with that consistent discomfort any longer. She decided that “normal” wasn’t good enough and became her own health hero!
- Do your own research.
Look, I know that doctors are highly educated, intelligent people, and most of them really want to help us feel better. However, they don’t always have time to keep up with the latest research or to understand exactly how the commonly recommended treatments may affect you.
If something’s really bothering you that you believe is fixable or if you are concerned that a treatment you’ve been prescribed may have consequences you don’t want, the internet provides easy access to very reputable resources. You have the power to learn more about what’s available, to discern what feels good to you, and then to find a practitioner who will support you with a methodology that is tailored to your individual needs.
One client came to me having suffered from acid reflux for many years, and he wanted a solution other than taking medication. His doctor had put him on a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) and suggested that he would probably need to use it indefinitely, even though PPIs have only been verified for use up to 14 consecutive days and are recommended for use no more than three rounds over a 12 month period. (In addition, consistent, long term use has been linked to all sorts of problems like increased risk of infections, fractures of the hip and spine, iron deficiency anemia, chronic kidney disease and multiple types of dementia[2,3,4]. Yikes!)
Fortunately, my client discovered this information about the side effects of PPI use and realized it wasn’t the best option for him. Though he wasn’t quite sure how to move forward, he knew that he wanted a different, more natural solution. He did more research and then came to me to determine if what he had read was scientifically accurate and, if it was, to come up with a more natural plan for healing his digestive system.
By focusing on the many different things that can trigger acid reflux, we were able to identify some triggering foods and related imbalances in his hormonal system. We worked together to resolve these underlying causes, and to his doctor’s surprise, he was able to go off of his PPI after only a few months.
Thankfully, he no longer suffers from the constant burning. If he had simply trusted his doctor’s expert opinion rather than doing further investigation on his own, he would still be on that PPI and worrying constantly about both its side effects and the potential long-term effects on his body. By becoming his own health hero, he was able to relieve the pain using a methodology that doesn’t cause stress.
- Decide with personal authority whether the intervention recommended by your doctor is the right one for you or if you need to pursue alternatives.
When my husband and I decided to have a family, I immediately went to my gynecologist to test my hormone levels and determine the likelihood of successful childbearing for my 40-year-old body.
Seeing my AMH levels (one of the main markers of fertility) and my age, my doctor immediately told me that my “only option” was IVF. Needless to say, I didn’t like that answer. Other than the AMH, my hormone levels looked okay. What’s more, I believe in the inherent healing capability of my body and I wanted to give my body that chance before deciding medical intervention was necessary. I decided to pursue more natural solutions to boost my fertility and bring my hormone levels into balance.
Through my own research (even I do research when I encounter a new situation!), I discovered there are many things that can impact fertility: autoimmune disease, nutrient deficiencies, toxicity, hormonal imbalance and several other factors can impact your chances of getting and staying pregnant, regardless of age.
Research also demonstrated that, at my age, the chance of IVF with my own egg resulting in the live birth of a child was less than 16%. In contrast, if I could get pregnant on my own, without undergoing IVF, my chances of successful childbearing were closer to 60%. For me, 60% was a much more hopeful (and less expensive!) probability than 16%.
I’m happy to report that I did not have to go through IVF, I am currently 24 weeks pregnant, and all signs point to a healthy, thriving little boy growing inside of me. Not only am I thrilled with this outcome, I am also proud of myself for the work I did to make my body an even healthier place for me and this tiny human growing inside me.
Had I trusted my doctor rather than my own instinct, I might have decided not to pursue motherhood, or I might have unnecessarily subjected myself to the heavy medical procedures required for IVF. What’s more, these procedures would not have had the joint aim of improving my own health and wellbeing at the same time as preparing my body for a baby.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t undergo IVF or that IVF is never necessary to get pregnant. Rather, it’s to point out that often, regardless of what health issue you’re facing, you may have options your doctor didn’t tell you about! If something your doctor is suggesting doesn’t feel good to you, recognize that you have the personal power and responsibility to consider other options. Even if you ultimately decide the original recommendation is the best one, you’ll go into it more open to the outcome you believe it can provide.
your body is meant to be healthy, and with your fierce support, it tends that way on its own. So, do yourself a favor and become your own health hero.
In this day and age, we have more resources available to us than ever before. Relevant, accurate and applicable research is readily available via the internet. Integrative healthcare practitioners are sharing what they know on social media. And telehealth services are becoming more widely available so you can find the right person to support you on your health journey. (To learn more about gathering a health care team you really trust, read my article, Surround Yourself with Believers.)
You deserve to be happy and healthy. Being your own health hero is a powerful first step to make that happen.
- David C. Metz. Long-term Use of Proton-Pump Inhibitor Therapy.
- Paul W. Ament, Daniel B. Dicola, and Mary E. James. Reducing Adverse Effects of Proton Pump Inhibitors.
- Benjamin Lazarus, Yuan Chen, Francis P. Wilson, et al. Proton Pump Inhibitor Use and the Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease.
- Willy Gomm, Klaus von Holt, Friederike Thomé, et al. Association of Proton Pump Inhibitors with Risk of Dementia, a Pharmacoepidemiological Claims Data Analysis.
- Centers for Disease Control. 2014 ART Fertility Clinic Success Rates Report.
- Healthline. A Breakdown of Miscarriage Rates by Week.
Image via Unsplash | This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click and then purchase we will receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for reading & supporting Happy Living!