Bringing Common Sense to Healthcare
I’m angry. I’m angry at how stupid we can be. What set me off? An article on kangarooing.
Kangarooing, if you don’t know, is a revolutionary idea in the care of premature infants. Doctors and nurses in Australia were amazed to find that premature infants who were allowed to rest skin to skin on their mothers were calmer, slept better, and were able to be released from the hospital sooner than the infants who were isolated in a plastic bin in a room full of other screaming, terrified babies. The practice has spread to other countries with equally remarkable positive results.
Really? This is a surprise?
This is just another chapter in the bestselling book, Western Medicine Says, “Do THIS!”, the standard text for decades, which often runs counter to simple common sense.
I’ve had two children. I was insistent that they arrive with as little intrusion from the world of modern medicine as possible despite a hospital setting. I was adamant the first time, but the doctor ended up insisting on “hurrying things up” anyway. I was militant the second time and nobody, but nobody, was going to “hurry up” my daughter if both of us were alright.
I had to argue hard for those concessions.
I had to argue with the nurses who thought I should send my infants to the nursery because “you all need your rest.” We rested together better than we would rest apart.
This is the same medical system that argues circumcisions are the healthy choice. This is the medical system that performs those circumcisions on infants who, they say, “don’t feel pain.” Tell that to any mother who has sent a peaceful , contented infant with a nurse and has been given a screaming, terror-stricken, spasming animal in return.
We are the people who still struggle to convince mothers that breast milk is the healthiest possible food for an infant. Those efforts are showing results – three out of four mothers, according to the 2010 CDC Breastfeeding Report Card, now at least start their new babies on breast milk. But those rates drop significantly starting at three months…no doubt attributable both to advertising touting the convenience and “health” of infant formula and the difficulty faced by mothers trying to make the natural rhythms of breastfeeding fit with the unnatural demands of work schedules.
We are the people who will choose a Caesarean birth one third of the time, up a whopping 53% from 1997 to 2007, according to the Natality Data File of the National Vital Statistics System. The World Health Organization maintains there’s absolutely no reason, anywhere in the world, for a Caesarean rate higher than 10% of all births. In the US, that rate is 32%. One third of all American mothers would rather have major abdominal surgery than simply allow nature to take its course. And their doctors concur.
Western medicine isn’t just blind when it comes to our health when we first arrive. It’s got a peculiar focus when we develop illness. Cancer is cut out, then we flood ourselves with poisons in an attempt to kill whatever cells (health and cancerous) that remain. Functional medicine gives me some reason to hope that common sense is beginning to assert itself.
Dr. Elizabeth Boham practices Functional Medicine at the Ultra Wellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts.
She told me her focus is on the entire system, the whole person. She and her patients explore what created a favorable atmosphere for cancer to thrive. They explore the impact of nutrition, stress, environmental toxins and even the client’s mental state.
Number one on the list of culprits is sugar, according to Functional Medicine. Cancer, Dr. Boham notes, loves sugar. Eliminate sugar and you’re depriving cancer cells of their favorite meal. This isn’t news, yet it isn’t something my mother ever heard from her oncologist when she was battling endometrial cancer. My dad didn’t hear it when he developed colon cancer. That’s because Western medicine doesn’t buy it. In fact, Johns Hopkins Medicine has made a point of debunking this and other views.
"… there is no evidence that certain foods alter the environment of an existing cancer, at the cellular level, and cause it to either die or grow."
The website also says cancer is not a disease of body, mind and spirit, but is, rather, "a disease caused by genetic alterations. Many times, these alterations occur through our own behaviors—cigarette smoking, a poor and unbalanced diet, virus exposures, and sunburns, says cancer prevention and control expert John Groopman. How stress, faith, and other factors influence this is largely unknown." Call me skeptical if you like. I have my doubts that Western medicine knows best. And that means it’s important to trust your own common sense. If you believe that disease is a result of a complex web of systems that all need to be brought into balance to attain wellness, insist that Western medicine respect that belief. Particularly in the treatment of cancer, Dr. Boham says medical minds are opening. And as for the care of infants, if you believe mother knows best, make sure mother is heard.
To hear the 51% interview with Dr. Elizabeth Boham, follow this link to the show's homepage.
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Barnett is the producer and host of 51%
The Women’s Perspective,
a weekly women’s issues radio show carried nationally on NPR,
ABC and Armed Forces Radio stations. 51% The Women’s Perspective
is part of WAMC
- Northeast Public Radio's national productions. "The View From Outside," Susan Barnett's new collection of short fiction, is available in eBook format at Amazon and Barnes and Noble through Hen House Press. You can connect with her on Facebook.
Photo by DB Leonard.