Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Problem With Progress


There is a real problem growing in the so-called health care system. One that is frightening to those of us who are involved in the delivery of health care. The problem is that as much as some people like to attack medicine and its shortcomings and dangers, the fact is that medical practice is becoming more and more effective every year. Now some may be wondering how that is a problem. If drugs are becoming more effective and less harmful, isn’t that good? If the side-effects of drugs are being diminished, isn’t that beneficial? If surgical procedures are safer today than they were 10 or 15 years ago, isn’t that wonderful? Heart by-pass was a serious life-threatening procedure in 1980. Today it is almost as routine as an appendectomy. If scientific medicine is able to develop new drugs that can relieve people’s ills for longer and longer periods of time, isn’t that progress? Shouldn’t we be thankful?

Well, in a sense it is helpful but not in the long run. If all we are doing is relieving people’s symptoms but not making them healthier, are we really making a difference? To feel more comfortable until you die may be a benefit to some but not for the many who are still years from their deaths. Let’s not mistake comfortable deaths with the full expression of health. If we have virtually wiped out smallpox and developed a new vaccine for chicken pox but AIDS is growing every year, have we really made any progress? A recent study has shown that if cancer were completely eliminated today (which is highly unlikely inasmuch as the incidence of the disease is increasing), the average life span would only be increased by less than 1.5 years.

Here is the danger--medical advances may lull us into believing either that we are healthier or that being healthy is not important as long as we are disease-free. Yet, ridding the world of a disease like cancer will only increase the life span at best by 1 1/2 years and perhaps not that much if other diseases take its place as the killers. Medicine’s progress is like the individual who cannot seem to live within a budget and is constantly using his credit card until it is “maxed out.” Then the credit card company tells him not to worry because his limit has been increased by $2,000. That is the worse thing that could happen to him. It will treat the symptom for a while longer, delaying the ultimate, which will be worse; he will have $2,000 more debt! But saddest of all, it will prevent him from addressing the real problem. His lifestyle and budget need to be altered.

Similarly the greatest danger of medicine is that it works. It relieves symptoms, treats disease and makes you feel better to the point that you think you are better. Unfortunately, it has little to do with health. Mastering bypass surgery will not encourage us to live healthier lives, which may lead to healthier hearts and thus prevent the very need for the surgery. Health is the real need. People need to know that true health comes from within. It consists of doing those things necessary to be healthy including eating right, getting the proper rest, exercising, keeping the body free from pollutants and maintaining a positive mental attitude. Most importantly, it includes being under periodic upper cervical care so that nerve interference due to head/neck misalignment is removed and the body’s self-healing, self-regulating principle, the innate intelligence, is free to be expressed to ensure that all of the above aspects of health care can be maximized. People need to know that.

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