What's messed-up about organized medicine, aspects people don't usually consider.
| Organized medicine in the United States is set up in an extremely unnatural way, when you come to think about it. In fact, I may even go as far as to say that organized medicine is a primary factor why many Americans refuse to move, to relocate. Many feel physically and emotionally dependent on their doctors; these people may indeed suffer greatly from a relocation, especially if their perceived medical problem is or was serious. But beyond that, just think of all one must go through in order to establish a new relationship with a doctor. It is a process which is largely taken for granted, yet quite dysfunctional and unnatural when you stop to consider what is really going on.
You walk into the doctor's office for the first time. You tell the receptionist that you have made an appointment. I will venture to guess that 95% of medical receptionists in this country are women. Why? It is a question to consider, but I digress. The woman immediately hands you a stack of papers and forms on a clipboard, and a pen. You have indeed arrived 10 or 15 minutes early, just so you'll have time to finish this task before the actual doctor-visit. You sit there, perhaps among many other people (though hopefully not), and fill out the required information. In my experience, the information which is invariably required is: your full name, your address, your phone number, your date of birth, your previous doctor's name, the reason for your visit, the name of your insurance company (if you have one), the policy number, your marital status, your sex, your number of children, and your medical history. I may have left some parts off of this list! Your medical history consists of: your vaccinations and when you received them (even going back to childhood, if you received them then); every medical issue you ever experienced, and the date you experienced it (of course, to answer this, you must survey a list of every common medical issue); every hospital visit, what you were treated for, and who treated you; the date of your last menstrual period, whether or not you could be pregnant, and the number of miscarriages you have had (if you are female); whether you smoke or drink, how often you do, and how much; what medications you are currently taking; all major medical issues your close family members have experienced; the name of the first person you ever kissed; which brand of underwear you use; what your favorite kind of pie is; how often you ride in elevators; and most importantly, what kind of car you drive. Okay, so I threw in the last few for humor. But is this or is it not an incredible amount of information for a doctor to have access to, before you have even met him/her, face-to-face? How often does anyone, besides one's parents, know even a fraction of this information? When you meet someone in a coffeeshop, say, and you really connect beautifully, what might you reveal to that person? Your first name, perhaps your occupation, perhaps your marital status and number of children. Would you ever dream of revealing the details of every one of your hospital visits, or whether or not you might be pregnant, or how much and how often you drink alcohol? Well, if it came up in conversation naturally, perhaps you would reveal part of one of these pieces of information... but then, you might not reveal your occupation or how many children you have. That's just how natural human encounters work. When you first meet someone, it's only natural to reveal very little about yourself.
Moving on in our dissection of that first office visit. You have been thoroughly stripped of your pride by giving out all this required information, and have signed several papers agreeing that you will do this and you won't do that. You hand the clipboard back to the receptionist, and sit back down. You think to yourself, “Did I forget anything? Did Aunt Thelma have this disease, or that one?” Then maybe you think how pathetic you are, to have suffered so many afflictions in your life. And in the very back of your mind, you wonder how you can possibly face someone who already knows this much about you.
A nurse peeks her head in the room and somewhat sympathetically calls out your first name. Now everyone in the waiting room knows it, which is a really minor issue, compared to what you are about to go through with the doctor. The nurses have access to all your information, too, so actually there may be two or three people learning all about you, at this stage—and possibly more. But when you really think about it, it takes a pretty special connection with someone, ordinarily, for you to even reveal your first name. You may ride a public bus for months and never reveal your first name to the driver.
The nurse leads you to the examining room assigned to you. She takes your height and weight, your temperature and blood pressure. Then she tells you to please change into a paper gown, and “the doctor will be with you shortly.”
So, every single shred of your dignity, of normalcy, is going to be taken away. Not only must the doctor know every detail of your medical history, and have access to all of your personal information; he(she) must also meet you clothed only in a strange-fitting, barely-covering, disposable “gown” (and probably your socks). You may know very little about him, if anything, and he is fully clothed and completely comfortable, surrounded by people he probably knows well, in a place he is familiar with.
A quick knock, and he comes in. You chat with him about your issues, your experiences, revealing more and more about yourself. After all, that's why you came. He performs some sort of examination, perhaps touching you in places no other human being has touched you since you were a child, or places only your spouse touches you.
Hopefully you will feel that he genuinely cared. Hopefully you will get some questions answered. You may very well feel that the doctor was in a hurry, and he may well have been. He will likely write you some prescription and tell you when he'd like to see you again. That is probably the end of the visit, and you will be directed out to the waiting room (after given a chance to put your clothes back on). There, you will perhaps pay something for your visit (imagine paying for this nightmare!), perhaps schedule your next visit, and be on your way.
What a relief it is to walk out of that place into the fresh air! But alas, you are focused still on all your medical issues. You are hopeful that the “magical prescription” will help matters, but also unsure of the future. Hopefully, you will have many ways to thoroughly distract yourself for the rest of the day, or you may become positively sick in your ruminations about your problems. Or maybe you have complete faith in the prescription, and can therefore feel completely at ease. We could view this as desirable, except that you would then feel somewhat dependent on chemical compounds for your healing and/or comfort. If you placed complete faith in the prescription, and were healed, or at least felt better, you will probably wish to return to the doctor with any problem that may arise in the future.
What if you could no longer afford to see that doctor? What if he was no longer part of your insurance plan? Worse yet, what if you could no longer afford to see any doctor? What would you do?
These are questions most people probably don't stop to consider, and yet any of us could face that situation someday. I guess a primary consideration for us should be whether we want our children or grandchildren to become accustomed to using organized medicine or not, and to what extent.
There are other options out there to consider, besides the ordinary general medicine practice. There are spiritual healers, medical intuitives, homeopathic practitioners, chiropractors (some of which will even examine and adjust children), practicers of Chinese medicine, and more. Some practices even allow a person to meet his/her doctor with their clothes on!
Furthermore, some will ask important questions in that questionaire, questions that the so-called “ordinary general practices” may hardly consider, such as:
- What is your diet like?
- How much exercise do you get?
- What is your occupation? How stressful is it?
- What are your leisure activities?
- Do you practice some kind of spirituality?
Perhaps some of them may ask now or in the future important questions like:
- When was the last time you took a break from work?
- How do you express yourself creatively?
- How far do you live from a park, forest preserve, or wilderness area?
- How far ahead do you ordinarily plan activities in your life?
- Is there a history of alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, or verbal abuse in your childhood?
- Are you aware of all the 12-step recovery programs out there?
- Do you now regularly associate with people who abuse drugs, alcohol, or other people?
- Are you part of a spiritual or religious community?
- How many pets do you have, and what kind of animals are they?
- How much time do you spend outdoors?
- How often do you interact with children?
- Do you grow any of your own food?
- Do you drink chemically-treated water?
- How many trees are near your home, and how big are they?
- What kind of media (TV shows, movies, magazine articles, books, internet) do you expose yourself to, and what is the nature of it?
- Do you have hopes, wishes, dreams?
Like the questions you had to answer before seeing the “regular” doctor, these are extremely personal. But to me, many are more important than those on the actual questionaire, when it comes to real healing and true health. If I was really interested in healing someone, these are questions I might ask. And it may be more important for them to be asked, than for the healer to receive an answer. Anyone who is suffering from a medical problem is well to ask themselves these questions, in my opinion, and take a close look at their life. One is well to consider what changes might be made now or someday.
Some people call this present time the Age of Enlightenment, or the Crystal Age, or the Golden Age. To me, people seem to be rapidly advancing, spiritually. Let's hope that soon these ridiculous and bizarre requirements will not be made on any person in order to simply see a doctor. Or at least let's hope that they will no longer be considered ordinary, customary. Let us learn how to set things up in a conscious way, that we can “increase the peace,” that more and more people will be cared for in a manner that is genuinely loving, thoughtful, and respectful. Let us learn how to really care for one another, and let go of any history of dysfunction or abuse. Let us become aware of our Oneness and learn how to live that Oneness.
In the name of Love and Joy and all things beautiful,