Horfilmania posted an epitaph for a relative she just lost. I was struck by two different feelings.
Overriding, of course, was my reaction to the quote printed concerning her health problems: "We take pills for that." It saddened me immensely.
This is what comes of treating our medical industry personnel like gods. They know best, they are authorities, they have our best interests at heart, we mustn't question! I don't know if I should be madder at them or at us. ...Or maybe at all the television dramas in which doctors are the heroes, which help to brainwash the credulous....
In our highly-specialized society, it's tempting to leave personally-unknown details to people who set themselves up as knowledgeable professionals. Hell, that's the way my marriage works -- some things J is better at, and he plays leader there, and some things i'm best at and he'd BETTER defer to my judgment. ;-) We can't each know everything, and the better part of wisdom is knowing where somebody else's expertise is needed.
But even from the earliest days of physicians, there have been areas where they THOUGHT they knew what was best but were seriously deluded. And the guild not only managed to kill an awful lot of patients, but they battled for their supremacy with "alternative practitioners" in ways that haven't changed much through the centuries -- I wonder how many witchcraft accusations were brought by them, simply to remove the competition from business?
The AMA claims to harass midwives, recommenders of supplements, and even members of their own club who use a different approach from the ingenuous "standard of care" ONLY to protect us from shoddy medicine, but there is a smokescreen situation here. If a treatment is shown to WORK, who are they to forbid its use simply because there is no RCT report printed up in a journal? They never worry about obviously deleterious treatments -- like statins for women -- when it comes to something the club sanctions. We're talking hypocrites, not Hypocrates.
Individual doctors often have the best interests of the patient as an ideal, but the association only cares about perpetuating itself, like so many other organizations (AHA, ACS, ADA ad nauseum). Too many, though, don't really care. Herd 'em in, sit in a room with them while looking at a computer-screen, write a scrip, herd 'em out.... The ones who work with patients to improve health from the ground up just make the "herders" look bad -- can't have that. :-P
"We take pills for that."
People get into all kinds of trouble through poor lifestyle choices; if we used the "pills" philosophy for crummy jobs, bad relationships, and crime, how far are we going to get? If some guy comes down with a disease because he lives like an unhygienic animal, do we tell him to just take a pill, or do we tell him to take a bath and clean his house, ferkrisesake? If a smoker goes to the doctor with lung disease is s/he not told to QUIT SMOKING?
When the public IS told that lifestyle changes are necessary to improve health, it is unfortunate that the changes they're told to make are so unpleasant. Western-world puritanism is held up as the path to immortality -- and I use the term intentionally, because it's all about that "being pure will get you into heaven" mentality. We are asked to give up red meat and ice cream and everything that provides pleasure, and instead to eat dry crusts and bitter herbs, and toil on a treadmill. No wonder doctors can't get their patients to make "lifestyle changes" -- no wonder they give up and pull out the prescription pad.
If that's what it took, I wouldn't do it either. Fortunately, it's not.
We desperately need to move away from "pill mentality" but of course the pharmaceutical industry will fight that tooth-and-nail. Letting them advertise on television made the problem worse ... but it just goes to show how strong their lobby is.
Presenting PLEASANT lifestyle changes as beneficial is our best hope for improvement. Change the message from "get at least five hours of exercise every week" to "do something outdoors for a half-hour every day" and see if people get a little more enthusiastic. Stop lying to them about animal protein ruining their kidneys -- if they can't tolerate a gram per pound of their ideal weight, their kidneys are ALREADY trashed. Most of all, stop telling them that they NEED those healthywholegrains, that starch is the best thing they could possibly eat.
...and the other thing that leapt to mind when I read that blog-post? That only in the 21st century could we consider a 70-year-old to be dying "young." As Henry II put it in "The Lion in Winter," "I'm 50 now. Good God, boy, I'm the oldest man I know! I've got a decade on the Pope!"
H's cousin -- rest in peace!