so, you know how you learned that it’s really rude to talk about politics and religion in polite company?  you know you’re going to offend somebody, you know it’s going to get ugly, so you just don’t.  or if you’re in DC, you choose carefully who you’re going to offend and just start a fight.  whatever.  well, i’d like to assert that these two topics should be joined by a third: healthcare.

not the current political healthcare debate (although that is touchy!) but rather asserting what one should or shouldn’t do to take care of one’s health.  we’ll start with vaccinations.  go ahead and tell someone they should (or shouldn’t) vaccinate their one-year old.  you’ll have a brawl on your hands.  one side will say that mercury is a known neurotoxin and immunizations given to children are a barbaric practice sure to cause autism.  the other side will scream that modern medicine has brought us to this point in history where we don’t have to have our kids die of polio and as a parent you are irresponsible and certain to contribute to the demise of civilization.  trust your doctor, you idiot.

sigh.

i don’t talk about immunizations very often.  it’s too touchy.  but when someone genuinely asks how i’m doing and i am asked to give an update on my treatment, i often encounter a barrage of criticism.  it’s never a judgement-free exchange of information; instead, i am often talked down to for my choice to pursue alternative medicine.  never mind that my doctor is regarded as an expert in her field, practices with a legit medical license and follows all protocols for the highest standards of care–and actually spends time listening to me.  never mind that i’ve done a ton of research about my illness and seek to treat the causes instead of the symptoms.  never mind that i’m feeling better.  never mind all that.

i have a few friends who are medical professionals who I can trust with my real health news.  for the others, I have to shroud what i’m doing.  I get responses like, “what are homeopathics?  is that, like, herbs?”  “you mean you didn’t take what your first doctor prescribed?  do you think you know better than your doctor?”  “take your meds!  that’s the only way you can get better!”  “do you really think that changing what you eat will make any difference in a chronic illness?  that’s cute!”

it makes me so irate.  I want to shake these people.  people who choose alternative care do so for a reason–standard medical practices have failed.  my friends have been laughed at by doctors who assume that their illness is psychosomatic or have been given several pharmaceuticals that have been harmful.  So you’re sick and want to get well, so you go to another kind of a doctor who practices holistic medicine.  doesn’t seem too crazy to me.  why all the anger?

i think that like politics and religion, health is a matter of deep personal values that you were raised with.  you don’t change your politics or religion unless something jarring happens where you realize it isn’t working for you on a very deep level.

so, i say this in conclusion.  if you believe your body is a machine and is the sum of a series of chemical reactions, if you’ve been able to treat it as such and feel well, keep doing what works for you.  if you’ve had doctors who spend 15 mins with you give you the care you need or you’ve only needed critical care, then stick with that.  if, however, you meet someone who has been failed by the current medical system and has found help outside your bell curve of normal, be compassionate.  and ask questions.  you might learn something.

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