Health Care or Sick Care

Do you want to be healthier? Or do you just want to be less sick?

Is there a difference?  If so, where you turn for help will depend upon how you answer these questions.

If you want to be healthier, do you go see your doctor? Or do you seek out a nutritionist and exercise trainer?  If you do go to your doctor, what are the odds you will walk away with a prescription to be filled with your local pharmacist or referred to another doctor, lab or diagnostic facility?

It is said that “if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem becomes a nail.”  Physicians who practice in the western allopathic model know how to diagnose and treat illness.  Some who become highly specialized can become more interested in the disease than the patient they are treating.  If the disease were to disappear, they would lose a great deal.

Treating disease is what we are paid best and praised most to do.  There are thousands of codes for illness.  There is no code for “just not healthy” or “needs better nutrition and more exercise.”  And, frankly, our training in these areas is a pittance compared to our training in diagnosing and treating disease.

I recently met with a young man who was thinking he should try a medication to help him concentrate, to overcome his “ADD.”  After experiencing some highly stressful experiences as part of his prior chosen way of life, he had returned to school.  He was struggling because his short attention span and wandering thoughts were making it difficult to focus and complete assignments.

He had decreased but not eliminated his “bad habits” and had made some basic changes toward better health.  But the doors to his past kept opening up, stimulated by the news of the day, and he felt he should be “back there,” doing what he was good at but can no longer do.

It was tempting to prescribe the suggested medication or refer him to a specialist.  Why not?  It could have been the most expedient and gratifying way for me to try to help.

Instead we talked about a more consistent way of life: more exercise, a cleaner diet and elimination of certain behaviors.  We talked about his values and how the news of the day challenges them and stirs his emotions.  We even talked about religion and politics, taboo in polite conversation, let alone a medical encounter!

If I had prescribed medication, he might have experienced less severe symptoms from his “disease.” But if he follows through on our discussion, I bet he will be healthier and the disease will wane in its control of his life.

Healthier people are happier, more productive and “harder to kill.”  If you are sick, see your doctor to find out why.  But if your doctor is just treating illness and isn’t helping you get healthy, seek additional help from other sources.

You are worth it!