Thursday, April 5, 2012

At last

I'm relieved to read in the New York Times that several panels of well respected doctors have set new guidelines for medical tests.

What they're suggesting is that we are overtested. Uh - yeah! Medical tests are both expensive and can make us feel worse for no reason. We hope they will reveal information to help us feel better, but as it turns out, this is not always the case. Less medicine, fewer medical tests - YES YES YES!! There are always fashions in medicine. I'm relieved that test-driven, pill-centered medicine has peaked and will now begin to decline in importance. Thank goodness!

The people who study these things take into account how much radiation we should be subjected to (for instance), then weigh the benefits vs. measurable dangers. I haven't seen or heard about studies in which the researchers take into account how stressful it is. Many procedures are uncomfortable or downright painful as well as frightening, dehumanizing and anxiety-inducing. Since the person undergoing the test is already not feeling great (otherwise they probably would not be there in the first place), how much of an impact does the discomfort and stress have on the patient's ability to get well? Does the stress of enduring medical tests reduce immunity? I'd bet on it. Want to bet?

Maybe the doctors who are researching embodied cognition will at some point turn their attention to how the body feels about being probed, having little bits snipped off. My body does not like it, nor would it like being encased in an MRI machine, doused with radiation or altered chemically. My guess is that our bodies do not appreciate what must feel, at an embodied level, like a hostile attack. Maybe I'll shoot an email to the embodiment lab at Barnard U in NYC. Someone should look into this!

The simplest kind of health care centers around respect for the body. When we're cold, we put on a sweater, when we get too hot, we seek shade or a cool drink. When we're stiff, we stretch, when upset, we take some deep breaths. I know it's simple - and free. Of course I admit that medical tests are sometimes necessary, but the way we relentlessly accost our bodies in the name of wellness is awful. And our minds don't even care! It sometimes happens that I get too deep into a client's tissue. Their bodies jump away from my hand while they inadvertently say, "Ouch!" I always apologize of course. The client will often then say, "It's ok - go ahead, I need this." As I like to point out, their mind might like it, but their body definitely does not! That's why they jerked and why they said ouch.

There is a similar mind/body disconnect around medical testing. The mind wants reassurance, but the body does not enjoy being poked, penetrated, snipped and radiated. Why would it? I am relieved to learn that the people with credentials to make recommendations are coming around to a more balanced approach to testing and prescribing drugs.

Be kind to your body today, ok? It is the spaceship that flies you through this thing we call life. Yes? Oh my yes. The body is miraculous. Make nice, ok? Shalom.

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