The walls were a pale beige color, kind of a "mother of pearl" shade. No windows; just one door that remained wide open with a billion footsteps shuffling back and forth. This was my umpteenth time in the ER for complications with my autoimmune illness. My nurse was from the Carribbean (like many in this hospital in Flatbush, Brooklyn), and he had a thick Jamacian accent. He comes in to do a vitals check and then asks if I'm chronically sick. I tell him I have Lupus. I usually expect that to be followed with eyes that say "I feel so sorry for you. Shame. So young..." Instead he perks up. "Oh me kno' jus' de ting. See, me cousin sell dis drink a called Noni juice. It a purify ya blood an get ridda alla dat sickness inna' ya blood." I thank him but kind of wave him off. Before I leave the hospital after my overnight stay, this nurse hunts my room down and gives me a complimentary bottle of this liquid Noni cure.
A few weeks ago, I was hanging with my friend JB and his friend. We got to talking over a bad Boston Market meal, and me having Lupus came up. The friend says, "What if I told you you could heal yourself?" I wonder where this conversation is going and what type of lifestyle change he's about to try to sell me on. He starts speaking about alkalinity and the body needing to be less acidic. I let him talk although I've heard this cure before. Later, he brings up leafy veggies and I say that I can't have too much vitamin K because of the blood thinners I'm on that prevent me from having, oh let's say, a STROKE, since I had a pulmonary embolism a few months ago. His only response: "Well stop taking them. You won't need them after a while, anyways." Everyone has the cure.
I don't know a person with a chronic illness that hasn't gotten fed up with the constant stream of prescriptions doctors swear by that, due to side effects and blanket treatments, only seem to lead to a sea of pills. And when many of us have gotten fed up, all these "natural cures" on the Internet and in the media seem to be a better option. So we push away the prednisone and start juicing. We do cleanses and special diets. And our doctors freak the freak out.
See, I don't blame medical doctors for pushing prescriptions. Many of them were not required to take a course on nutrition or the healing power of foods. They are so technically and chemically trained that they cannot fathom something helping without knowing how. They need a carbon + oxygen+phospholipid trail to make it make sense. They can't state "I have no clue why, but it works." And because they don't know how it works, many of them don't prescribe it. So we're left to figure it out on our own, for better or worse.
Don't get me wrong, I believe in the power of Eastern Medicine. However, I know that when that fails me, I'm running right back to a Western doctor faster than a veteran nurse can put in an IV. I have done the extreme switch from pills to potions... And gotten even more sick (and broke) than when I started. I believe good health comes from a healthy blend of the two, a balance of preventative and restorative medicine. I take plaquenil to improve my condition and Dandelion root tea to clean my liver. I eat a whole foods diet, and I exercise and take yoga to de-stress, promote circulation, and improve joint function. But, I'm not afraid to get a steroid injection if need be. Any changes I decide to make to my diet or pill regiment, whether my doctor likes it or not, I let her know so that if anything goes really wrong, she knows where the source may lie. And to all of the people with their magical healing concoctions, medical conspiracy theories, and tales of people curing themselves of cancer then walking on water, I tell them to email me sources (not just from the website selling the product swearing Dr So-and-so cosigns this therapy) and say thank you. I don't allow people to make feel guilty for trusting a medical professional over an anointing from a pastor because I believe God gave mankind wisdom to come up with treatments for various illnesses. Yes, I know capitalism and greed very well might be the reason we see more treatments and less cures today. But just as each body, person, lifestyle, illness is special, you have a right to mix your own cocktail of pills and potions to suit your own special pallet.