When I was fifteen, I had an awakening on many levels. One of these was a keen awareness and anger towards modern medicine. In particular, the power it asserts and takes from those in need.
The left brain scientific approach to health seemed limited and arrogant to me. The patriarchal, “I know and you don’t” attitude hurt my sensibilities and angered me. “What about intution and other ways of knowing?” I raged.
My father, a General Pracitioner, and I had countless arguments on the subject, a painful thorn during much of my life. I studied the history and evolution of modern medicine at college and later made a documentary about Doctor/Patient relationships and the importance of communication. (Read about “Like Rembrandt Draperies: A Portrait of Cathy Tingle” at http://www.takegoodcareofyouwellness.com/rembrandt-draperies-documentary.html.)
What I have fought for and against has been a personal battle with different aspects of myself. I want people to own their power especially in the context of health and medical care. I have kept away from allopathic doctors as much as possible, in part to avoid my feeling of powerlessness in relation to what they might say to me. I have seen loved ones come back from the doctor with a diagnosis that is more like a death-sentence. When I hear “I have X” or “I have to take Y medication,” I cringe. Where is your power? I want to scream. Why have you given it away? Believing those words may make them true when they might not have to be true. I shake my head in pity, disappointment, anger, and bottom line: judgement.
I do believe in those ideas, but why are they so important to me? Because I do fear the power of the word and the masculine whom I have granted power to define and decide. Because I do fear the helplessness and uncontrollable fact of my death.
I recently felt moved to have a variety of medical tests. The results were frightening. I asked my doctor if I was dying. I spent the next couple of weeks virtually home-bound, doing research and confronting that no matter what I chose or choose to do or not do about these “conditions” I will die, sooner or later. I can force no guarantee. I do not and cannot control life. I am human, subject to everything everyone else is inescapably vulnerable to. Basically, like my dad, who I regarded with disdain for his lack of spirituality, I’m scared to death of death. Even more, I’m terrified of life and living and vulnerability and imperfection. My choice is to continue as I have, denying and berating so many parts of myself – and possibly and probably contributing to if not creating actual illness, or, give in, put the club down, fire the old ways that I developed out of pain and hurt and anger and fear, and show up like y’all. Messy, emotional, and – well, what I always wanted, really – to be in my body. In my self. Living truly and authentically as who I really am. Warts and all, as my sister says.
First is to accept my own warts. So I look in the mirror every day and tell myself “I love you and you’re good enough.”
The power of the word, or in this case, numbers, had me reacting as if “This is it: the conversation I’ve been dreading my whole adult life. You have X.”
If I had been told I had only six months, what would I have done, spent the next six months in panic, conducting research? I have experienced my worst fear, emotionally speaking. The truth is, I feel quite well. If I hadn’t gotten all these tests and seen all these numbers with their assigned meaning, I never would have known. I would have continued along hiking, playing basketball, doing yoga, eating what I eat. Instead, I developed heart palpatations and a sore throat. Would I have experienced these symptoms anyways, or are they evidence of the potential effect of the word, given power?
I may be alone in my experience, or I may be a model for change. Either way, I cannot, I will not pretend not to be suceptible. I am. I did what I did. I am where I am. There’s no going back. I’m still here. That’s how it is. While my ego is lying down in shock and disorientation, another aspect of me, a part that is growing, and that I am nurturing, is truly grateful for this push that I needed, into life and living.