Sure, a Mac truck may hit us, or we may have inherited genes or familial tendencies, but for much of our health status, we have ourselves to thank or blame.
During my 30 years in nursing, I have seen many patients insisting that the doctors, or nurses, or hospital, or whomever, make them well. They discount that the 30 years of smoking, 20 years of over-indulgence in alcohol, 10 years of couch potato activity, or the daily consumption of processed and fast food may have invited this encounter with ill health. But then, if it’s not the health system’s fault for not keeping them well, it must be the fault of the cigarette advertisers for getting them addicted to the nicotine, or the fast pace that doesn’t allow them to eat right, or the necessity of having three cars, four big screen TVs and two I-Pads that makes them work two jobs to make ends meet elevating their stress level.
If you need an excuse, any excuse will do.
But there is good news! People are beginning to sit up and take notice. Organic foods are becoming more common and available. We are no longer “kooks” if we take homeopathic Arnica for pain or homeopathic Phosphorus for a fever instead of popping aspirin. Smoking has become socially unacceptable. Public health nurses are administering acupuncture to help people quit smoking. Tai Chi has become a household word. Echinacea will soon be found in everyone’s medicine cabinet. John Knowles, former president of the Rockefeller Foundation said “The next major advance in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for themselves.” According to the CDC, over 70.0% of deaths in the United States and about 75.0% of health care spending costs are due to chronic diseases. Additionally, the roots of these chronic conditions, that are the leading causes of illness and death, can be traced to lifestyle factors — principally smoking, diet, and physical activity. All actions you are in control of.
We are bombarded daily by radio, television and the internet telling us to take medicine for anything that ails us. We want to eat food that our body doesn’t agree with and just take magic pills before or after. If we’re constipated and don’t like to eat fruits and vegetables to keep us regular, that’s okay, take laxatives. If we have diarrhea, and don’t want to blame it on that grease-laden burger, that’s okay, we take pills. If we can’t sleep, and don’t want to give up the coffee and the blood and guts on the 11 o’clock news, that’s okay, we just take sleeping pills. When we have a headache from not eating or from running non-stop, we just take drugs.
We must practice vigilance to keep from being tricked into medicating ourselves toward illness. We have a tendency to not listen to our bodies but instead hush the voices with drugs or surgery. Benjamin Franklin said, “He’s the best physician who knows the worthlessness of most medicines” and Albert Schweitzer said, “We doctors do nothing. We only help and encourage the doctor within.” What power we have! We just have to recognize it and act on it.
Let’s make the decision that it is up to us to determine the level of our health. Stop making excuses. Start making changes. Develop a taste for fruits and vegetables, put on those walking shoes, eat more natural and unprocessed food and eat less processed food. Try all things non-toxic and non-invasive, such as acupuncture, diet modification, homeopathy, herbals, exercise, meditation and chiropractic, before resorting to drugs and surgery. Realize that you and your decisions are the key to your health!