Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Food Matters. Western Medicine - not so much.

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" - Hippocrates

Yes, I know. The obsession continues. As I hope it will.

This past weekend, on the eve of setting off on my juicing adventure (next post will be about that), I watched Food Matters. It didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know, but it really drove home the point that better nutrition really is the way to better health, and reminded me that the more I deal with Western medicine, the more I despise it.

You might remember my rant about health care in this country, but the more I learn about our corporate food system and the medical system, the angrier I get and the less dependent I want to be on them.

I have struggled with a number of health issues for several years - I have asthma, ADHD, and suspected sleep apnea. I'm also, as you might have guessed from the title of this blog, fat. My doctor, however, doesn't really seem to care. Only one time did he mention my weight, and that was only when I called attention to it. I said, "look how much I've gained in the last six months," and he looked at my chart and said, "oh yeah, you're up about five pounds every time I see you." FIVE POUNDS. I see this man EVERY MONTH for a med check (my ADHD med is controlled and has to be prescribed a month at a time). Why is he not alarmed? Well, why should he be? My obesity is going to make him a mint, right?

I wait sometimes up to 90 minutes to see him, and he spends a grand total of five minutes with me. "Everything okay? Good. Here's your prescription. See you in a month." Thirty dollars for the office visit, ten bucks for the pills. $40 a month, for what?

Well, I'm not doing it anymore. I took my ADHD medication dose down on my own, so I have a backstash of pills at this point. I'm canceling next month's appointment, and I'm going to continue to wean myself off the med. And when my pills are gone, they're gone.

Now, before you jump to the conclusion that what I'm doing is dangerous, let me just explain. There is an established co-morbidity between asthma and ADHD. When you have asthma, particularly if it goes poorly controlled for a long time, or you have scarring on your lungs from exacerbations, you spend a good chunk of your existence wheezing and short of breath. This translates into decreased oxygen flow, which, as most people know, can cause one to become cognitively impaired. So over time, as brain cells die off, the ability to concentrate becomes reduced, and voila! You're diagnosed with an attention deficit. I'm not entirely sure that's totally true in my case, as I've been a "nutty professor" type my whole life - very smart, but not very reliable or organized. In my case, the asthma likely only made it worse, especially after it got really bad in my early 30's. So there's that.

Then there's the asthma-apnea connection. So now I have THREE conditions that play off each other. I can't concentrate because my sleep quality sucks. I can't sleep because I can't breathe. And both proper sleep and proper breathing are necessary for proper brain function. I also think it's pretty common knowledge that obesity comes with a whole host of co-morbid conditions like asthma and allergies and sleep apnea and hundreds of other conditions which make it hard for one's body to work correctly, so is it any wonder that my doctor doesn't yell at me for being fat?? I'm a walking dollar sign; a heart attack waiting to happen, a diabetic in the making, a cancer patient in the rough. I'm so many things in my current state, and while it all scares me, it also really, really, really pisses me off. Being unhealthy is fucking EXPENSIVE!

I work hard for my money, and I don't make tons of it. I spend $95 of that money every month on doctor's visits and meds. What if I could get off at least some of those meds, simply by taking better care of myself? What if the only "meds" I really need are vitamins?
What if Linus Pauling really was right, and we can cure any ill with enough Vitamin C?

One of the analogies they used in Food Matters was to imagine your body is a house. It could be the most beautiful house, but if the infrastructure is not sound, the house won't remain beautiful for long. If the foundation crumbles, the frame breaks or rots away, then the structure won't hold up, and it will become broken and diseased. Proper nutrition and vitamins can help square that frame right up.

So what if I spent some of that "doctor money" on better quality food that would nourish me and help the infrastructure become strong and resilient to illness and injury? What if instead of paying a $300 co-insurance fee for a sleep study and another $300 for a CPAP machine I just fed myself better, took lots of vitamins, lost weight, and alleviated the apnea symptoms in the process, thereby strengthening my system even further to cure or alleviate the other conditions? Well, that's what I'm going to find out.

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