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18 July 2009

Third Rail

I didn't know what "third rail" meant really, until Rosemary explained it. I do tend to be passionate about subjects that are considered controversial or not acceptable to discuss.

As a massage therapist, i often have folks ask me, "Can you feel that?" when i'm working on them. If "that" is muscle tightness or spasm, then yes, i almost always can feel it. However, i do NOT know how the person i am working on experiences it. For some folks it is a little discomfort. For others it is extreme pain. Some folks don't notice how it effects them at all, & others are greatly restricted by it.

At times i have to work very hard to get the person to tell me what they are feeling. They seem to expect that i know. It is true that i've gotten good at reading body language. Just watching a person walk or move often will tell me the muscles that are restricted. Or the tremor of toes, or motion in fingers often tell me that i'm getting close or have gone over the person's pain tolerance. So people are surprised that i usually can quickly find "their spot" & treat it. But i myself do not FEEL it.

In a similar manner, i think it is typical of folks these days to expect their doctors to "know" things. I lived that way for a long time. It was not very beneficial, & the docs ultimately convinced me i was depressed or worse. It is true i was depressed, but i think it was a natural outcome of having physical symptoms dismissed & left to undermine my health. When the docs told me they could find no physical reason for my symptoms & so i must be "depressed" i took their pronouncement as law, because doctors "know" things. So it must be "all in my head."

This subject is far too complicated & lengthy for me to articulate it well (& certainly not briefly), but for starters, i believe we have sold our birthright, so to speak. This country is founded on the principle that most folks are intelligent enough to make good choices & responsible enough to take the consequences of their actions in said choices. A whole shelf of books can be written about this in many different areas, but i'm speaking simply of the medical field.

Many of us have been taught that doctors "know" things & give them a lot of respect. Perhaps more confidence than they deserve. They DO know things. They study long & hard to learn what they know. But, at least for the past 40 years or so, what they are taught is very carefully crafted to be along the lines of drugs, drugs, surgery, & drugs. Many of them do not know how to assess the very statistics on which research is reported, & we all know how statistics can be manipulated. Also, to be frank, common sense & critical thinking are not encouraged in their curriculum.

There are exceptions to this, of course. But with the current paradigm of insurance, etc., & the push to see too many patients in too short of a time, most docs simply do not have the time to think thru a typical patient's issues. So, in a normal 7 minute office visit they hear symptoms, think of the drugs they know to treat the symptoms, write a script to treat those symptoms, & send the patient on their way. Finding the reason for the symptoms & treating the cause rarely crosses their reasoning processes.

The U.S. "health care" system has one of the worst records among industrialized nations for the outcome of our care. It does have some benefits. Right now we have a lot of freedom in choosing a doc or alternative treatment or taking vitamins & other supplements. We are about to lose many of those choices. In the current "health care" bill being drafted, new private policies will not be allowed to be written. In a generation, all people will be covered by the governmental health care program. And we know how efficiently & frugally they manage our money now. Wow, just think what it is likely to do to our choices in health care. (The last 2 sentences were meant as sarcasm. I've put "health care" in quotes because what we currently have is not health care, it is disease perpetuation.)

Why is this on my mind, today? For a couple of reasons, i guess. One is that the appointment with the doctor i saw last week continues to chafe me. Another is that Duane & i had an extensive conversation about my health this week. Another is that my lips are swollen again. And because of different food choices i've been making.

In general, i eat a fairly healthy, mostly organic diet devoid of meat products except occasional fish. I do still eat eggs, honey, & mostly raw dairy. (I mention this because "vegan" is eating no animal products at all including things like cheese, butter, & honey.)

However, before our trip i was very stressed & began to sometimes eat "conveniently" meaning fast food i normally would not touch. And after our trip i was so discouraged by my lack of energy & limitations i didn't change that pattern. And what is the result? Even less energy, body rashes, my eyesight is worse, internal disturbances & infections (i think i have a low-grade UTI), my head is itchy for the first time in several years since i changed to organic shampoos. Now, i am striving to change this & return to my healthy way of eating.

But i can't help but ponder what the result would be if i went to a M.D. for the rashes or my lips being swollen. I doubt very much the doc would know to ask about diet. Or, even if he recognized diet as the issue, i think the search would focus more on specific foods. And i mention that because i think the problem is chemicals.

Most folks don't know that 70% of corn grown & 90% of soybean grown in the U.S. are genetically modified/engineered. We don't know all the results of GM/GE technology or what kind of effect it will have ultimately. However, some are specifically engineered so that they can have more pesticides used on them without killing the plant. Essentially, any non-organic item with corn, soybean, or derivatives of these plants (the oil or other products using them) is almost certainly made of GM/GE plants & high on the chemicals/pesticides as well.

Our bodies process what we eat & drink in various different ways. One is thru the urinary system, another the digestive system. Both of these rely heavily on the kidneys & liver for detoxification. And extra chemicals stress these systems. But another that is often overlooked is our skin. We excrete toxins thru sweat.

It is my belief that this is the origin of the rash i'm fighting, & also of my itchy scalp. It is after i've been too warm & have been sweating that my scalp itches unbearably. (And if you think this is "normal," let me tell you it is not.) And, with my lips swollen i think it is the reaction to something in the lip balm i used last night. It is a good one, but i'm obviously reacting to it. The last time my lips were swollen like this i believe was poisoning by Splenda. That lasted for more than a week & was very uncomfortable.

Some folks might try to tell me that i'm "very sensitive" to chemicals, etc. And, yes, that is true. However, it is my belief that most folks are "very sensitive" but they just are not recognizing it. How many chronic issues are directly related back to processed food & other chemicals? I doubt we can even begin to guess. How many people see the doc every week complaining of some skin complaint?

When a body is bombarded with it all the time our bodies are in survival mode & doing what they have to to process the stuff. Once it is removed by a healthy, largely organic diet some folks seem even more sensitive. I believe that is because the body is better able to respond directly to an insult. It is said that a person is not allergic to bees on the first sting. Allergic reactions that are severe happen with subsuquent exposure when the body reacts violently. I think the same thing is true with food/chemical items. Once the offending items are removed, the body reacts more violently in later exposures.

This brings me back to my original thought: i know my body best. You know your body best. It is false logic & faulty thinking to expect a doc to "know" what is going on with me. If the doc is well trained & capable of critical thinking & common sense, he might be able to guide me in the direction to find a cause/reason/cure/proper response. But if that doc tells me that what i'm thinking is all in "my head" & is not confident that i know my body & what is not right, that doc is not to be trusted. And if i choose to believe said doc, then i am selling my birthright of independent thinking & the belief that i can make good decisions.



small farm girl said...

I completely agree with you on the all of the bad stuff that is put into our food. There is cancer in me and my husbands familys. i truely believe it if from all of the chemicals that are being eatin. This year we are trying to go organic. Growing our gardens and things like that. It's a slow process, but we are trying to go 100% organic. We already grow our oun beef cattle on 100% organic field grasses. I hope you feel better in the near future.

Land of shimp said...

I think it's wonderful that you've learned how to be aware of what you put into your body, and how it impacts your overall well-being.

I'm also really glad that you are able to pinpoint the things that cause difficulties and work to bring about your own wellness.

You're entirely right, I think. I think most people don't understand how well they can feel. I believe that sometimes people become content with their level of physical discomfort, that they mistake that feeling for being well.

I don't eat an entirely organic diet, but we do eat well (particularly by American standards) with lots of fruit and vegetable. I'm fortunate enough not have many sensitivities. I do know that I don't feel as well when I'm failing to get the amount of exercise that I personally need.

I think you're right, and that each person making an effort to understand their own, individual body is a wonderful step in the right direction.

Here's something funny -- the word euphoria. As a child I thought it was a synonym for joy, or specifically exuberant happiness. Eventually I learned that euphoria is a powerful sense of overall well-being.

I wish euphoria :)

Land of shimp said...

Ha! Oh dear, and I left out a key word! Funny when talking about word meanings.

I wish you euphoria.

Hehe, teach me to post before editing!

WannabeMommy said...

Wonderful post! And may I throw in a hearty "Amen!" to all the things you've mentioned. I've had many an experience with doctors where they've been completely on the wrong track, or simply ignored my intuitions. It's only when I take ownership of my own body that healing starts to happen. I'll never let another doctor get in between me and my health again!