Healthcare policy, healthcare agency
In the months leading up to and following the 2016 election, I stopped reading and listening to the news and I purged my social media channels.
That doesn’t mean I deleted those who don’t share my views: I simply unfollowed those who overposted divisive content about any topic—not just politics—to drive the gap wider rather than to find ways to a middle ground.
I don’t think I missed out on any major headlines, and I certainly didn’t miss the endless dissection of the gory details of each news story that goes on until a new major event occurs.
Over the past 3 years, I gradually returned to the news in a very selective way—until yesterday, when you couldn’t find anything on any media platform other than the dissection of the Mueller report.
Yup, going back to that voluntary news blackout.
It’s part of my personal healthcare policy: if knowing something does not serve me—if it does not make me a better, healthier person—I choose not to take it in or I find a way to release it immediately.
I’m sure a lot of people are appalled by my policy: Isn’t it irresponsible to be uninformed? And in a world where technology makes it possible, isn’t it important to know about the news as it’s happening?
I guess the answer depends on whether you are looking for facts on which to base your own views or for validation of your views from so-called experts.
who is the expert?
I’ve recently been struck by what’s being called the gender data gap.
The topic came up in a podcast about the masculine and feminine approach to doing chores, where the discussion was about whether the data on productivity loss at work due to task switching was based on a study of only/mostly men in the workplace.
It came up again in Women suffer needless pain because almost everything is designed for men, an article about the sometimes lethal consequences of the “gender pain gap,” which exists because our conventional medical model is based on “Reference Man:” “He is considered the standard human and he is a man. Usually a white man in his 30s, around 70 kg [155 pounds]. He’s the person we’ve used for decades in all sorts of research….”
So much juicy stuff to argue about here if you are on a crusade to overthrow the patriarchy or the Western medical model.
And that’s not why I’m interested in it.
There are plenty of times when I am perfectly willing to listen to the experts—and more often than not, I don’t need to: I have an expert inside myself.
When my daughter was a toddler, I took her to the doctor because she was feverish, and when she got a fever, it was always a high one.
“What was her temperature when you last took it?”
“I don’t know, I just know she has a fever.”
“If you didn’t take it, how do you know?”
“Because her palms and the soles of her feet are blazing hot, and that’s what happens when she has a fever.”
I could have said what was on the tip of my tongue: that she had woken up 3 times the night before, and in my experience as her mother, this was a sure sign she was going to come down with a fever.
And “Because I’m her mother” didn’t seem to be a great way to respond.
In case you’re curious—she did have a very high fever over 103ºF, confirmed by the nurse.
Looking back on this episode as my daughter is about to turn 20 (WHATTT?), I realize that “because I’m her mother, and I AM the expert on my child until she grows up” could really have been a valid response if delivered with love—and it’s taken awhile for me to recognize and trust that expert.
By questioning our expertise about our own health, we have relinquished our agency to others, and nowhere do I see it more clearly than when I’m talking to women going through perimenopause.
The most common sentences I hear from them start with “Am I crazy to think that…” or end with “…and I was told it’s all in my head.”
I go back to the story about my daughter often when talking to clients about their healthcare “agency.” Not to convince them to turn to (or away from) a particular type of healthcare, but to encourage them to reclaim their expertise over their own bodies and to keep seeking an answer (and a practitioner) to satisfy them and alleviate their symptoms in a way that aligns with their own values and beliefs.
“Breaking up” with a healthcare practitioner or style of medicine can be very difficult—heck, some have a hard time breaking up with a hairstylist!
And yet we deserve to have our health concerns heard and our needs met—not as a woman who lives in Reference Man’s world but as an individual—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually unique.
a place at the table
So why did I start this by writing about the news?
Because the field of health and well-being can be as divided as the political arena—for many, it’s an either/or proposition: you either follow the conventional, Western medical model or you go over to the hippie woo-woo alternative side.
And by the way, how did it happen that “conventional” refers to the much newer model of medicine and farming while the much more traditional models are considered “alternative?” To me, it’s just as perplexing as why we charge more for food without a lot of added ingredients!
But I digress.
The reason I started by referencing politics is that in an increasingly divided world, there seems to be little room for those who believe that we all deserve a place at the table and that our diversity is our strength, and that trend seems to be leaking into all sorts of other areas of our lives.
Or is it that schisms in those other areas are driving the politics of division?
I feel that there is a place at the table for the entire, diverse spectrum of healthcare modalities, and that we can—if we are so privileged—take advantage of more than one at a time in our search for optimal health.
Rather than an either/or, it is a both/and—or even an and/and/and.
make the connection
Ultimately, you are the expert on your body/mind/spirit—perhaps not (yet) on how to heal yourself, but at least as to how you feel and what forms of treating dis-ease are aligned with your values.
If you’ve contemplated learning more about other healthcare modalities and practitioners—either to replace or complement your current one/s, I hope you’ll join me at the Ann Arbor Wellness Coalition‘s first annual Wellness Fair on April 27th. It’s a FREE open-house style event with a few scheduled presentations—I’m doing an interactive Kale + Kryptonite workshop at 10:30am!
What I love about the Coalition is that it’s a group of health and wellness practitioners who are finding strength in diversity and our ability to work together through complementary and referral services to provide the best, most personalized healthcare for those who are seeking to reclaim their agency to make informed decisions about their options.
As the Coalition’s tagline reads, “Well-being begins with you!”
Drop a comment below and let me know about a time when you listened to the expert inside you—or when in hindsight you wish you had!