man standing at crossroad of pharmaceuticals or cannabis - health and wellness paradigm shift

The Health and Wellness Paradigm Shift

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, which is definitely true. However, sometimes necessity is also the mother of introspection. Growing up, many of us went to see our doctor when we felt sick. We would even go when we weren’t sick to make sure that we were doing everything we could to not get sick. Let’s be honest though, if you take a look at your family, friends, co-workers… how many of them are really truly healthy? The sad truth is, everyone has something wrong with them.

Health-

The very word health is just as ambiguous and broad reaching as it gets. There is mental health, physical health, healthy choices, healthy foods, healthy sexual and meaningful relationships… the list is endless. Yet as endless as the list seems there is one common denominator, and that is you, and you alone. It is you who needs to take control out of the hands of a broken healthcare system and return to your roots. To that end, it is no wonder a monumental paradigm shift is occurring as it relates to personal health and wellbeing, or more precisely, taking back control of your own health.

The car analogy

Many people would be able to tell you, without a doubt, the grade of the gasoline they used in their car for their last fill up, and they will continue on to explain how that grade of gas made their car run much better, faster, or cleaner. Now ask that same group of individuals what their doctor filled them with during their last check up and see if they know why it should make them run better, faster, leaner, healthier, or happier. Truth is, we care more about what goes into our cars than into our bodies. Without the safety net of insurance or a true doctor-patient relationship, choices have to be made. Sometimes we must learn to change our own oil, if I were to stay with the prior analogy.

The healthcare shift

The ultimate shift that is happening is that people are losing faith in the healthcare system as a whole. I’ve had someone spend more time with me trying to find me a perfectly fitting pair of shoes than I have spent discussing my health with a doctor. Doctors and other medical professionals are deluged with patients in a non-stop rotation, often only able to spend 10 minutes with each patient. That is unacceptable. A brief visit will allow the doctor to treat the symptoms (usually by prescribing any number of pharmaceutical drugs), which is like giving someone a band aid… it just covers up the problem. We need to be addressing the root of the problem, not the results it produces.

Taking back control

At a recent visit to the hospital to see a relative, I consistently asked questions to those administrating medicine, often without getting straightforward or acceptable answers as to what drug was given and/or why. I felt frustrated. Mind you, five days in the hospital and she was seen by nurses, nurse practitioners, therapists, lab techs, and even a hospitalist. (This was a new one for me. Evidently a hospitalist is a physician who specializes in treating hospitalized patients of other physicians in order to minimize the number of hospital visits by other physicians.) The relative’s actual doctor only came in to order a prescription or two and to sign discharge papers. Again, unacceptable. As it stands now, we have been trained to be complacent and happy with the obligatory band aid, and move on. This is where you can start to regain control.

If you find yourself at the tail end of a hospital stay, before heading home or going to fill your prescriptions, ask for a copy of your lab reports, your diagnosis, basically a copy of your visit. Keep these in a file at home. If sometime down the road you find yourself in the hospital again, it’s advantageous to be able to compare lab results. If your blood pressure medication suddenly gets changed to a new brand, ask why. Is the new medication better, less intrusive, or not going destroy your liver? Or is it that the doctor that gave it to you has other interests in mind other than your health? Either way, what you put into your body is ultimately your decision.

Baby steps

So, what else can you do to take control of your own daily health? A lot depends on your level of involvement. I for one, will most likely not be sipping wheat grass at Sunday goat yoga class, but you can bet I will do some very simple things that will allow me to not need a medicine cabinet full of “band aids.”

“Baby steps” has been my approach to taking my control back… doing little things daily to impact and change my overall health. I started parking at the furthest parking spot I could and walking the extra few steps into the store. I started using the stairs when it was an option. I started reading what was in the food I was buying. I chose to get into the pool and enjoy it rather than lay on a chaise next to it. I chose alternatives to what I would normally do or eat, or drink. These are all simple, “well, of course” things that we are always told to do, but may or may not actually do them. But it starts there with that first step.

Ask questions

Once you are comfortable with being more proactive, start asking questions. Google is an amazing educator when asked the right questions (and visiting reputable and trustworthy sites). It wasn’t until I started asking questions about medications and my health did I realize how absurd some things are, which reminds me of a post I read on social media. It was for a t-shirt design, and it said:

“I take Metformin for the diabetes caused by the Hydrochlorothiazide I take for high blood pressure which I got from the Ambien I take for insomnia caused by the Xanax I take for the anxiety that I got from the Wellbutrin I take for chronic fatigue which got from the Lipitor I take because I have high cholesterol… Because a healthy diet and exercise with regular chiropractic care and superior nutritional supplements are just too much trouble.”

Read that again.

If you could relate to it, then that should worry you. Take a look at what is in your medicine cabinet, research it and the side effects. Next, open your pantry and do the same with the labels on your food. So then what? What do you do after you figure out that there are some really yucky things going into your body? You find alternatives to these unwanted items. Look to natural supplements to control high blood pressure. Choose organic and non-GMO items at the grocery store. Try searching for natural remedies for common items such as sunscreen, bug repellent, or cleaning supplies. Essentially you want to exclude toxins from your life. Embracing the ability to be self-educated on what you are fueling your body with is empowering.

Again, these are just a few simple steps that help you take back the control of your own health. Lastly and most importantly, don’t be intimidated by shifting the control back to yourself. Don’t be intimidated by doctors who may not always have the best answer. Don’t be intimidated by medical jargon and big words. Don’t be intimidated to stand up and let others know that the current state of healthcare is not acceptable. After all, you have only been given on body and one life. You should be in control of your own health and not let your health control you.

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