I’m not typically an early riser, but I was out of bed like a shot this morning, sometime around 5:30. The alarm at the pharmacy next door was going off. Meghan also heard a loud bang right before the alarm. Since we’ve lived here, the pharmacy has been burglarized at least four times. We’re in the middle of nowhere, with no local police, and State Police several miles away. It’s an easy target. And whether people here will admit it or not, Snyder County still has a major drug problem.
So I was out of bed, on the phone to 911, talking to the Sate Police, running to my kitchen to look out and see what I could see, and a car that was sitting in front of the building (pharmacy is in the back) put on its lights and suqealed its tires tearing out onto route 35, eastbound. Now I’m running barefoot across my lawn like a dog chasing a car, to try to see the license plate. No dice. But I got a vague description of the car while it passed under the streetlight in the still pitch-black darkness. What a morning. The police came and I met them in the parking lot along with a nurse arriving very early to beat the snow. I am sure I looked imposing walking toward her car in the dark parking lot with no one else around, but she eventually recognized me, and I didn’t get pepper sprayed or anything.
The window at the pharmacy was broken, but only the first pane, so they didn’t get in. Previous robbery attempts have been successful, including the time that someone stole a ladder from a neighbor’s shed about four houses down, then used it to get through the roof of the doctor’s office, and cut through to the pharmacy. Either someone watched Oceans’ 11 too many times, or they really really really wanted those drugs.
I recount this all to say for the record, that it wasn’t me. Not that anyone would assume the preacher next door would do such a thing, but this blog has been very anti-medical establishment and anti-big pharma of late, so I don’t want anyone to get the impression I am interested in a Fight Club inspired localized Project Mayhem. I may think the FDA is worthy of being listed as an enemy of the American people, I may think that the push for statin drugs is a manufactured conspiracy worth billions, and I believe we overprescribe the heck out of antibiotics. But that’s not the fault of my neighbor Terry. He’s a great guy, working long hours every day to run a small business. He doesn’t prescribe, he only fulfills. The actual dealers are the people I see on the other side of the building, flowing in and out of the doctor’s office with as much regularity as patients: the drug reps. They are easy to spot. People going to a doctor’s visit don’t carry satchels, dress in heels or suits, or look that put-together when they’re sick.
Never Black and White
I’ll take this occasion as a prompt to put out one of the basic philosophies that drives my personal thinking. I may appear, through the people I cite and the movements I am drawn to, to be turning into some kind of Luddite or anti-Western medicine kind of person. I am not. But here’s a very simple, bumper sticker sized principle that I try to live by.
Medical intervention is great for acute problems, but not for chronic.
I realize that is terribly over simplified, but it’s a starting point. If you have a gunshot wound, a growing tumor, or a premature baby, I want you to have everything that the modern medical world has to offer.
But if you have a chronic condition that is changeable through lifestyle, do not rely on medicine to fix it. Heal yourself with what you feed yourself, and let your body do the amazing things it will do. I am a mystic when it comes to the life force in people. I’ve watched dying people hang on to life. Even in the midst of grave illness, the life pulse is strong. Science can tell you how cells work and keep lungs breathing and hearts pumping, but the fact that there is an energy to do so is not reducible to a description of the process. Whether you have a faith that ascribed this to the infusing of the Breath of God, or you call it an energy field or something else, chemistry, electricity and physics alone cannot describe what it is.
Where was I? Oh yes, the proper use of modern medicine. We keep saying we have the best healthcare system in the world. Then why are so many of us chronically sick? We do indeed have access to the best that technology has to offer, but does that mean we’re healthier? I don’t think so.
I don’t think that a perfect world is one in which my good neighbor is put out of business. There have been neighborhood pharmacies for over 100 years. But the amount of drugs prescribed upstairs, usually one after another, to counter the side effects of the last prescribed drug, is mind-boggling. We’ve joked at the local parades that when the pharmacy car goes by, the old people all perk up like it was a rock star appearance. The kids go nuts for the candy being thrown on the ground by strangers driving by (simultaneously encouraging them to do THREE things we tell them not to do: eat off the ground, take candy from strangers, and run into the road). The guys my age all drool over the muscle cars, and the old people watch for the pharmacist.
Yet how many of them ask their doctor “do I need to be on this? Why? How does it work? What other natural functions does it circumvent?” As I’m watching the eye-opening film Statin Nation, one of my main takeaways already, is that the way this particular kind of drug works is to cut off a number of hormonal processes, one of which is the body’s natural production of cholesterol. Even if you buy into the unfounded dogma that this is a good idea, along with that alleged good result, you cut off several other processes, including the production of Co-Q10.
I encourage anyone who is on any medications long-term, to do all the research you can. See if you really need to take this pill. There’s no reason to think your doctor does not have your best interest in mind, but the facts are showing that fewer doctors know ANYTHING about proper food, or have the ability to get out of the one format they have been trained in: fix the problem with a prescription. They are not the cause of this problem, but they have the power in it. They see a society that has collectively given up and demands the pills.
Well we can change that. Just like a grocery store will start to stock something if enough people ask for it, doctors will start treating us like intelligent people who are capable and willing to treat ourselves right, if WE DO THAT. But doctors are under the market-driven pressures now, and they don’t want to lose patients, so they just don’t talk to us about diet. So we end up with two extremes. One is the ignoring of the elephant in the room, while scribbling on the prescription pad, the other is to go the way of this doctor. I said in the last paragraph that in this broken system, the doctor has all the power. Well, that is only if we give it to them. We are responsible for our own health. The doctor yields power over the prescription pad, but not much else. If we decide to orient our thinking away from that top-down model of health and “healthcare” we take more control of our lives and health. This is not to create an adversarial relationship with the MDs, but to work toward a model where they are partners and consultants,which I believe will lead to more health and healing. Sure, you’ll get some whose egos are bruised if you ask any questions, and don’t just play dumb and defer to the expert in the room with the title and degree. But you have that in every walk of life. I’m a clergyman, I know all about it.
So, where did I start this rant? Oh right – I didn’t break into the pharmacy. It wasn’t my inner Tyler Durden either. If they day comes where I go over the edge and start practicing guerilla anti-corporate terrorism, I won’t mess around with small potatoes. I’ll be occupying Merck. No plans to do so now, mind you. Just that I only think big. This break in just isn’t my M.O.
I saw the getaway car. I really did. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.