The words we choose and the expectations we set can impact our healing. In ways that we may not even realize.
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Have you ever noticed that every little health condition you have, that you see a doctor for, requires a name? They have to give a name, a reason for that visit. And sometimes those named conditions will take up permanent residence in your doctor’s notes. They accumulate until perhaps you have a list as long as mine and I think there’s about 20 of them.
Some of the problems listed include pain in left knee, pain in right knee, other chronic pain, erosive osteoarthritis. That sounds fun, doesn’t it? Erosive osteoarthritis. How is that different from just plain old osteoarthritis? And my personal favorites: long term use of high risk medication. When I saw that when I had to ask my doctor because I didn’t like the implications necessarily. And she said that it’s needed in order to get insurance companies to cover urinalysis. Is it any wonder, is there anyone on the planet that does not have a pre existing condition in this world?
And then some of my crazy problems listed included an annual physical exam. Now maybe there’s a reason that they’re all listed, but it’s kind of bothersome to me, and how does it make a patient feel? And the terms they use. And why does everything have to have a name?
A few years ago, I had a yoga instructor that would not allow anyone to talk about their arthritis or other diseases. If you said you had problems with the arthritis in your knees, she would correct you and say that your knees have issues. It’s a subtle difference. But I came to understand why she made that distinction.
Sometimes I can understand something without being able to explain it eloquently. And this is one of those times. But I was recently reading an excellent explanation in a book. The book is called “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. Have you read that book? It’s a lovely book that I like to say is written in First Person Dog. The story is told by Enzo, an amazingly smart and philosophical dog. I couldn’t help falling in love with Enzo and I’m actually a cat person. Before I tell you what Enzo said, I should let you know that it really isn’t a spoiler, because you learn about this in the first chapter. But in this quote, Enzo is talking about Eve, the wife of Denny in those owner. She appears to have brain cancer, although Enzo, never named her disease in the story. These are his words:
“While doctors are able to help many people, for her (meaning Eve), they could only tell her what couldn’t be done. And I knew that once they identified her disease for her, once every went around her accepted her diagnosis and reinforced it and repeated it back to her time and again, there was no way she could stop it. The visible becomes inevitable. Your car goes where your eyes go.”
When I think about my knees, and then the word arthritis is used, that implies all the things that Western medicine can do for knee arthritis. And what they can’t do:
- They can give me NSAIDs for pain and inflammation.
- They can give me steroid injections for the same purpose.
- They can offer arthroscopic surgery to trim the loose cartilage. Although, there are studies that show that the placebo surgery is more effective than the actual arthroscopic surgery.
- And then they can also offer knee replacement surgery.
That’s about all there is in their wheelhouse. So that’s what they have to offer.
But if I ignore that word arthritis, if I just assume that there is some issue in my knees, then other possibilities open up:
- It could heal on its own.
- It could heal in response to physical therapy or acupuncture or another modality.
- I could even have my own stem cells injected to stimulate the regrowth of loss cartilage. Which, by the way, I have done.
But none of that is available to the person who accepts the definition of arthritis as a degenerative, irreversible, incurable disease. It’s like Enzo said, “The invisible becomes inevitable.”
Anita Moorjani had a near death experience in 2006. She had gone into a coma and was expected to not wake up. Instead, she woke up and subsequently recovered from stage four lymphoma. In her book, “Dying To Be Me,” she says:
“Cancer is just a word that creates fear. Forget about that word and let’s just focus on balancing your body. All illnesses are just symptoms imbalances. No illness can remain when your entire system is imbalance.”
So whether we’re talking about arthritis, or cancer or any other dis-ease, it’s a good reminder to choose our words carefully.
And that brings me to another point. When we go to a doctor, how often do we expect number one a diagnosis? And number two, a prescription? We’ve been trained to expect a prescription right? That expectation has resulted in far too many colds being unnecessarily treated with antibiotics.
In my father’s last few years, he was always expecting a prescription when he saw a doctor. I remember one time when he had some sort of skin condition and made an appointment to have it checked out. The day before, he was planning our day. We would go to the doctor then we would drop the prescription off and go have lunch while it was being filled. As it turned out, though, no prescription was needed.
The other expectation we have from doctors is that they provide a diagnosis. And they nearly always have one, right or wrong.
I once went to a doctor for a rash on my hand. First I saw his nurse who looked at my hand and asked me a lot of questions. A few minutes later, the doctor came in and never looked at my hand. In fact, he barely looked at me. And pronounced that the rash was caused by the fact that I was approaching menopause. I was livid. The man never even looked at me. He just read my chart and whatever the nurse wrote down. And because I was “of an age,” he had decided what the problem was. I should have walked out of his office at that point. And today, I would do so. Oh, by the way, it turned out he was wrong.
So no matter what the question is, or who asked the question, my favorite answer is always an honest, “I don’t know.” I’d much rather you tell me you don’t know the answer than to make up an answer. And the thing is that too often doctors do not have an answer. It seems the more we learn about the human body, the more there is to learn, we’re finding out that many of our modern illnesses have the root cause in the mind or spirit, or as Anita suggests, an imbalance in the body.
We can’t always explain the root cause of something. In fact, many things that are declared as diseases are really symptoms of something else. High blood pressure is a case in point. It’s part of a bigger problem that has more to do with stress in our lives than any possible drug that they throw at it.
I believe that I needed advice from that earlier quote is good for most of our modern diseases: “Let’s just focus on balancing your body.” Instead of expecting answers from doctors. Or even of accepting the answers from doctors is the final answer. Which is the whole point of sale power healing, knowing your body and knowing that there is more than one solution to whatever ails you.
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