31 October 2009

HEALTH / Know Thyself (And Watch Thy Back)

Nancy Kennedy, 20, downs soda and fries. Photo from LA Times, 1965.

A good dose of Healthy Skepticism:
Learn what works for you
Each of us is inside our body and we know what it feels like better than the M.D. ever will.
By Kate Braun / The Rag Blog / October 31, 2009

This writing contains no footnotes. No references or links to studies done or research published. What I write comes from my personal experience and experimentation. It comes from the personal experiences of friends and family. It’s more information to use as needed as we do our best to maintain good health. And caring for our physical body is primarily our responsibility.

We can consult medical professionals, we can do online research, we can canvass friends; ultimately, we have to decide what to do or not do to keep our bodies in good working order. It’s important to keep an open mind about what the possibilities are. Print media and TV ads present a variety of pitches urging us to “take this pill” so we will improve our health so we can dance all night and live happily ever after. What’s needed to balance this image, in my opinion, is a good dose of Healthy Skepticism.

M.D.’s treat symptoms. That’s what they’re trained to do. Each of us is inside our body and we know what it feels like better than the M.D. ever will. Listen to your body. You can learn to recognize the onset of a cold before you ever blow your nose. That’s when you should start treating a cold, as soon as you feel it beginning to work on you. Could be vitamins, could be eating lots of grapefruit, could be a pot of chicken soup, could be whatever works best for you. Experiment. Be your own guinea pig. And keep a diary of what you’ve tried to relieve the various discomforts and how well those things have worked or not.

If you are hospitalized, even if it’s day surgery, and you are anesthetized, Watch Your Tongue, starting from when you regain consciousness, for at least 24 hours. There are some Bad Germs in hospitals. They can Eat Your Tissue. If you notice something unusual on your tongue, a sore place, a dent, something that wasn’t there before you entered the hospital, take action. Don’t call the M.D.’s office and make an appointment for next week, grab the bottle of hydrogen peroxide and apply a drop to that sore spot. Hydrogen peroxide will quickly destroy the bacteria that are busily eroding your tongue tissue.

If sensors were applied to your chest while you were hospitalized, note the location and monitor those sites. There could be tiny sharp points in the sensors that could penetrate your skin, which would give viruses and bacteria a place to enter and grow. Again, applying a drop of hydrogen peroxide to each achy site can help. If you tell your M.D. about it, he might decide to give the O.R. crew a lambasting for improperly or incompletely sterilizing the equipment or he might not, but if you put it in writing and send it by certified mail there will be a paper trail to be followed should it prove necessary.

If you eat healthy food, get enough sleep and enough proper exercise, maintain a positive attitude, take vitamins as needed, explore alternatives in health care, learn to listen to your body, and cultivate Healthy Scepticism, my opinion is that you’ll be OK.

A big problem with trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle is not only the ever-present and ever-tempting fast food but also the fat-laden foods doled out to low-income families, as well as ads on TV that continually encourage us to consume more calories than needed. Supersized is Not Better! Read the labels when you buy food. Say “NO” to high fructose corn syrup, phosphates, artificial color, fake wheat bread, sugared cereals, refined sugar. Eat seasonal items, buy local as much as possible, eat lower on the food chain, read Fast Food Nation and re-read Diet For a Small Planet. Remember: You Are What You Eat.

I don’t claim to have all the answers for all and everyone. I know what works best for my body and I try to stay with that regimen. Not always possible, of course, but mostly possible. Perseverance furthers. When you understand what works for you, persevere.

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