What Can I Do? I’m Not a Doctor.

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    My 14-year old daughter asks if I used to be a hippie. She wants desperately to save the planet and gets adamant at about 10:30 at night, because we are not doing anything to solve global issues. I tell her we recycle more than anyone in our neighborhood and to please go to bed. She asks why we don’t use vegetable oil to power our vehicles. I suggest that perhaps she will one day own a vehicle that runs on vegetable oil.

    I then say, speaking of oil, we have switched to using olive oil, because it seems to be better for our health. She thinks that is off the subject. But it isn’t. I may not have been a hippie, but I am staging my own quiet protests in my everyday life. I no longer believe everything I’m told.

    I try not to obsess about health care, but I’ve been thinking. Who and what can I count on?

    We took our child to urgent care with severe abdominal cramping and the doctor sent us home convinced it was the flu. That didn’t sound right. Turns out it was more than that and we spent the summer trying to calm an appendiceal abscess too dangerous to remove. That was the year that I learned that I’d have to be an advocate for my family. If it doesn’t sound right, keep asking. I am grateful to the medical community for eventually fixing the problem, but it made me feel very vulnerable.

    Then there was the orthopedic surgeon who told my 64-year old mother that there is nothing to be done and she’ll just have to live with the pain of osteo-arthritis. Should she just deteriorate? Aren’t there other things we can try? Do I have to figure all this out myself?

    How about the dermatologist who recommends that I use a lotion on my skin that contains many hard-to-pronounce chemicals, even though I’ve had malignant melanoma twice? Is that really OK to do? Don’t cancer specialists pay attention? Am I sensationalizing? I’m frustrated.

    I have lost four dear ones in the last year. I know of another five families currently struggling with disease. This stuff is on my mind.

    I have more questions. Should I buy the cheapest brand of milk or am I exposing my children to dangerous growth hormones? Is it useful to eat organic food? Will ibuprofen ruin my stomach? Why am I getting headaches anyway? Should I support my immune system with supplements or is it fine on its own? Is my water pure enough? Should I go for the antioxidants in green tea? Or perhaps an intestinal detox? Would fish oil help balance my hormones? And what about antiperspirant?

    I know. I know. Stress is a major cause of disease. But there are many things to explore. My inner voice is telling me to wake up. Who is looking out for me if not me?

    I need my tribe. Where are my people? I can’t do this alone. I need to know that there are those who understand my questions and are out there checking out the answers. I want to live a more health-conscious life and make good choices. I want alternatives and I don’t want people to look at me strangely when I choose them.

    I am the planet that needs saving – and so are you. What’ll we do? I want in on building a broader definition of wellness. I’ll check out ingredients, surf the web, read the research, ask questions, make connections with like-minded folk and keep an open mind. Then I’ll see what makes sense to me and I’ll make some changes.

    Not quite a revolution. But my daughter thinks I’m onto something.

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