By world standards, Australians are a well-educated and health-conscious bunch. Ask an “average Australian” what it takes to live healthily and they will mention that having a balanced diet, regular exercise and downtime to unwind are essential.
However, what if everything you did was “by the book” but your body keeps telling you that something is wrong? You wake up extremely tired and fatigued; you feel a dark cloud affecting your emotions and moods; or have feelings of coldness and lethargy cling to you ALL THE TIME?
It is often at these cross-roads that you need to seek the guidance of an open-minded health practitioner to dig deeper for answers. If you are standing at these cross-roads, then routine blood tests, reviewing your “scans” and a physical examination simply serve as the starting point for diagnosis. Ask questions, lots of questions and search for the “WHY?” Never accept a patronising “you just have a virus” answer to your problems.
If you are disillusioned with the current healthcare model in this country, you need to recognise that we are not alone. It is a problem faced globally from Amsterdam to Zimbabwe! Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US indicate that 70 per cent of all deaths are due to chronic disease, and the cost of chronic care is more than 70 per cent of all medical expenses. Unfortunately, only limited funds, by comparison, are spent on prevention and health promotion. This is despite clear evidence showing preventive strategies mitigate the onset of many chronic diseases. Let’s put our health policies and recommendations aside for now and consider the lesson of the fish.
The fish hold the answer to your recovery
You may be wondering why we have such a diverse “playing field” when it comes to practising medicine in this country. The answer lies in understanding the huge disparity between Western-style and oriental (Eastern) medicine. Let’s illustrate the nuances of them both by imagining you are the fish in a fish tank.
If you have kept an aquarium long enough and managed to keep your fish alive and well, then you know the importance of regulating the water quality, pH and feed given to the fish. In other words, the environment in which fish live in is of paramount importance for prevention of sickness and death. The same goes for us. This can be likened to the health-promoting nature and approach of Eastern medicine. In this category sit doctors embracing integrative medicine, holistic dentists and allied health professionals such as osteopaths and chiropractors.
An alternative approach to maintaining the “health” of your fish is to neglect the environment in which they live and wait until they show signs of sickness. This, unfortunately, is the way modern medicine operates in Western societies: it is based on treating overt signs of illness. We have developed complex and high-tech approaches to screen, scan and perform intricate surgeries on our fellow citizens. By current standards, our medical colleagues have their work cut out for them hoping to treat the 70 per cent of all chronic diseases that see us to the grave.
Which approach is preferable? In an ideal world, the focus would heavily be on prevention rather than cure. However, a diagnosis of a sudden and dramatic illness sometimes makes the only sensible option surgery and long-term medications.
Here is the pearl in this blog: you are both the fish and the fish tank owner! Educate yourself on how to live at peace with your environment and improve the quality of the your life. My dream is that fellow healthcare professionals take the advice of the world-renowned oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau, who once said, “The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish.”