Disease. Does a disease require a name before it becomes real. If I come down with an unknown ailment, does it mean that I can’t treat the disease until it has a name? Just because I can’t name it, does that mean that there is no way of knowing what to take for it? Of course not… if you treat holistically that is. When you treat holistically, you repair the systems within the body that innately know how to repair all ailments of the body. Then why all the hullabaloo within the medical establishment about giving diseases names. They love to do it. Little do they know that it’s the name-calling that sets people in a panic. As a holistic health practitioner, I know this to be true and have seen this happen many times. A patient walks into the doctors office with a number of complaints. He has no preconceived idea what these complaints can amount to in terms of a diagnosis. He may in fact have been living with these complaints for some time, going to work, taking care of his family, doing everyday things, simply sucking it up and moving on. That all changes as soon as those words are spoken: those ominous words that he has heard on the street; heard while having lunch with friends; or while overhearing passersby. Those words are the names of diseases. We hear them every day but they don’t mean too much until they apply to US! Once those words are spoken in relation to oneself, something changes within the mind and body. Prior to hearing those words one is able to do all the same activities as before – going to work, taking care of the family, everyday things – but now they cannot. The words have shut them down in some imperceptible way. One tries with all their might to overcome, but to no avail. We become automatons at the mercy of medical professionals, hanging on to every word they utter whether right or wrong, hoping to get back to the way we used to be before. Now they have you, and you will (un)consciously do whatever they tell you to do in order to be whole once again. I myself have experienced this autonomic effect firsthand.
I had been having headaches for sometime. Prior to this headaches were not really a big issue for me. Like anyone else, if I got one, I just popped a few Tylenol or Advil and that seemed to take care of it, or at least that’s the way it had been for the first 32 years of my life. I tried to figure out what was the source of the headaches. I recalled that I noticed them most after a night of drinking. “A hangover.” I think that’s what it’s called, or at least that’s what I thought it was. Of course I tried drinking less and thinking that would help. Unfortunately, I still had some quite massive hangovers after only drinking two beverages the night before. Clearly, the booze wasn’t the problem and definitely not the problem I was trying to solve at this point in time. I was also starting to get rather irritable. I found myself getting ticked off at the smallest things. Everything seemed to be a problem and people were really starting to get on my nerves. I tried running and working out but that didn’t help. Working out only seemed to jack me up even more. I felt like I was pumped up all the time. In fact I was so pumped up that my body would sway ever so slightly even when I was sitting still. Weird eh? I’m not even really sure when it first started. It was a slow, progressive occurrence and I only really took notice of it as a problem when my body was swaying while at work, while driving the car, while sitting down to a meal, while doing just about anything. Something was wrong but I wasn’t quite sure what it was. In any event, I just kept right on going. Work all week and wind it up on the weekends – partying, drinking, and carousing was the name of the game back in those days.
It was my son Travis’s 8th birthday in June of 1997 and myself, living in Peterborough, drove to Kitchener to pick him up. He loved videogames and so I was taking him to Sega City (now Playdium) in Mississauga for a day of fun. At Sega City we did it all – played games in every digital format you could imagine, game shows, shooting weapons, riding motorcycles, sitting in cars, even spaceships. Then we ended the day off with a round of mini golf. It was loads of fun and we both shared a special day together. Afterwards, the plan was to spend the rest of the afternoon with his grandmother, my mother Joy. She lived in Toronto near the Don Mills area and so it was also a great way have a nice visit while breaking up all the driving – a win/win situation. As we left Mississauga heading back towards Toronto, I noticed myself swaying once again in the car while driving. I glanced over to Travis to see if he was noticing this. To me it was so obvious but maybe I was just being self-conscious. As I watched him sitting there it was clear that he had no idea what was going on with me. “Maybe nobody would notice,” I speculated, “Who knows? Maybe it’s all in my head?”, I shrugged, er, I hoped.
As we exited the highway and made our way closer to my mom’s neighborhood, I remembered there was a walk-in clinic in the mall just down the street from her place.”I wonder if it’s open today?” I pondered. As you can imagine, this day was not the best day to be waltzing into a walk-in clinic with my eight-year-old son in tow. To this day I’m not even really sure why I considered it. Maybe driving on the highway carrying precious cargo made me realize I couldn’t keep taking chances. It would be okay if it was just me, but for my son it was another story. I needed to find out what was going on and now was as good a time as any. So in we went.
When we got inside, It was pretty packed but now that I was there I wasn’t about to leave. We sat for some time but before long my name was called. I left Travis in the waiting room and went in to see the doctor. Between the questions he asked and the answers I gave, I was able to let him know what I was experiencing. He suggested that we run some tests, asked me to remove my clothes from the waist up and put on the gown that he handed me, then to wait for the technician to come in and run the tests. Up until this point in my life I had been relatively healthy, played three sports in high school – football, basketball, and track – and football in university, did the bodybuilding thing for a few years, and more recently still managed to play in a couple of recreational basketball leagues in Peterborough. Aside from getting my appendix out, and a bout of gastroenteritis, both while in grade school, this gown and ECG (electrocardiogram) test thingy was very unfamiliar to me. Nevertheless I played along. The technician came in, stuck a bunch of sticky discs to my chest, connected them to an electronic device with long wires and roach clips (wink, wink) on the end, told me to lay still and not to talk, then ran the machine which drew squiggly lines and kicked out a long narrow band of paper like the tickertape machines of old. The whole process took about five minutes and she was gone.
Within a few minutes, the doctor returned and sat at his desk in front of me. The doctor was a young man who looked to be in his late 20s or early 30s and appeared to me to be of East Indian descent. He had a kind, cheerful disposition when we first spoke but that seemed to have changed for some reason. The man before me now have a look of concern on his brow. “Mr. Johnson,” he began,” after looking at the results of your ECG, your blood pressure is a very high at 190/140. I’d like to call for an ambulance and have you sent over to the hospital right now.” Anything else he may have said, I didn’t hear. I just sat there staring at his face while it talked, Much like watching a movie with the volume turned off. How long this went on I’m not sure, but then fear and anger took over and I responded questioningly,”What do you mean get in an ambulance and go to the hospital? My son is in the waiting room. It’s his birthday today. I’m not going to let him see me go out like that.” The doctor responded to the effect that with a blood pressure that high, it would be tantamount to malpractice if he were to let me walk out the door. Stalemate! It was clear the twain would not meet on this day. Seeing my aggravated response, the doctor sat back and sighed,” Well… you did say that this has been going on for months now. I suppose your body has adjusted enough over that period of time. As Long as you promise to go directly to the hospital once you have made arrangements for your son, I will let you go.”
“Checkmate!”, or so I thought. I agreed that I would go to the hospital after taking Travis to my moms place. I stood up, shook his hand, wheeled around and headed for the door. As I reached the door and placed my hand on the doorknob something strange happened; I could not pass through. Not that it was blocked, or that I could not turn the handle, a flush came over me, a flush that felt like I was a punctured tire and all the air was being drained out of me from the top down; except it wasn’t air – it was emotion. Fear had taken hold of me. All those months of wondering what was happening to me now manifested into a solid mass of fear that held me motionless. The brazen courage, or willpower, that had kept me going all these months was somehow gone. For months I was able to muster the strength to keep going but not now. Even the foolhardy ego took a shot at me questioning,”You can’t go back now. Not after disrespecting the man as you did. Not after standing your ground like you did. You cannot go back!” I quickly fought off that nonsense and went into logical mode. I knew I had to go back, but how? “You weren’t that harsh with him. He’s had to break bad news before. He will understand.”, were the new rationalizations going through my mind. I could not pass through this door because for some reason in that moment it felt like it would mean almost certain death. I would be taking my life into my own hands now knowing that a problem really did exist. Not to mention taking risk with my son’s life; the thing that brought me here in the first place. The internal dialogue went on and on for what seemed like an eternity, but in truth was probably not more than a few seconds.
“Maybe you’re right,” I conceded to the doctor as I turned away from the door and sat back down. “My mom lives right around the corner. Maybe I could call her, have her come and pick Travis up, then I would be free to go directly to the hospital as you suggested.” The doctor gratefully agreed, opened a free line on his phone and handed me the receiver to call my mother. Before I knew it, my mother had arrived with a couple of friends accompanying her. The plan was that her friends would take Travis to their place and my mother would drive me directly to the hospital.”Great plan,” I thought but mostly I was grateful that she had come to my rescue with solutions in hand. That was my mom – a rock in situations like that. Quite often we think we’re alone in dark places but it’s only because we don’t reach out when we need help.
What happened next is an entirely different story and so I’ll save that for another day. Just the same, from first hand experience and to this day I can still remember that total-body-numbing feeling at the doctors door. Maybe it’s not totally because the disease had been given the name of high blood pressure and possible heart disease why the wheels fell off the cart but simply the reality that something was seriously wrong. From a professional standpoint, could that message have been delivered any differently? And if so, would a different delivery mechanism provide a different outcome? I can only speak from experience when I say that when I meet an individual that, through my own means of testing, has a body that is out of balance to a point where they need immediate attention, I do my very best not to knock the wheels off the cart. In other words, I discuss the symptoms and their level of severity but mostly focus on the solutions and how those issues can be corrected. In my mind, panic has no place in resolving ones health holistically. All it does is create fear and anxiety which are counterproductive when one needs to be as positive as possible about the success of their healthcare solutions and be able to muster as much strength as possible to make those solutions a reality. It’s difficult to heal when one is bogged down with fear.
The body was built to know what to do, and if we take the right actions to keep it healthy, it can fix most problems given enough time and with the right diet, and supplementation if need be. Unfortunately, we live in a world where the doctor turns you away even when you KNOW something is wrong. Seems that what YOU think doesn’t really matter. He will wait until the disease is set or until it can be given a name before he can treat it. And treat it he will – not heal it – and continue treating it with medical procedures and drugs for the rest of your life. I waited too long so I had no choice. Now I avail myself of all the proper holistic approaches to health as necessary while working side by side with allopathic (contemporary) medicine, but that route is much harder. After two transplants, I no longer have original parts. Don’t make the same mistake. Prevention is much less painful than the alternative.