This week one of my practitioners told me about a bold and daring leap he just made. After thirty years of working with the insurer, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, when this year’s contract came up for renewal, he said no. No to signing up for another year of being a cog in a machine that does not care about him, the work he does, or the patients he sees. No to losing money each year to pay them their split, while being hamstrung by their inhumane policies. No to their suggestion that if he wanted to make a profit, he should just double the amount of patients he sees; effectively turning his practice into a treadmill of poor care and hurried practitioner-patient connection.
No to being a slave in a system that has outlived itself. That has become more invested in its financial gain than the welfare of others.
This is a hard, hard reality to catch up to as so many of us have long believed that the institutions charged with our health are here to support us, to get us what we need, to bridge the gap for us when we are not well. And even if we have known that we are not getting what we need, it feels too scary, too impossible, to step outside of what appears to be the only game in town.
I mean, what would happen if we didn’t have the large medical conglomerates and institutions as a backstop? Well, we are about to find out as more and more of us are waking up to the fact, that not only is there another way, we have to find that way ourselves. We, are in fact, creating that way right now out of the rubble of what no longer serves.
And it can’t come soon enough when you fully recognize that what’s passing for “healthcare” is not only not working, it’s hurting.
I know this one well. When I took that first step out of the conventional medical system almost 30 years ago, I was simultaneously hit by some of the deepest fears I have ever known, right alongside an almost giddy sense of possibility of connecting to something that might just include all of me in the equation. That might just offer me more than a prescription or perhaps, “there’s nothing wrong/nothing I can do for you,” after a seven minute office visit.
That might actually get to the very root of what was happening, while offering me a map for how to step forward.
That first step for me meant tuning into the feeling that I wasn’t at the center of my care. A faceless, nameless system was. This hurt. It felt like a betrayal. Another step took me in the direction of starting to open up and be curious about what else was out there in terms of health and healing. This felt exciting as I began to learn about ancient traditions and how it was that my body worked.
But perhaps the biggest step of all has been learning, experience by experience, to claim full responsibility for my health and healing. No matter what kind of medicine I choose to use, or who I choose to work with, it always boils down to the same thing: The onus is on me. There is no abdication to an expert. There is no one who will do this for me. Because this is, after all, my body.
I can’t tell you what to do or how it will turn out for you. I can’t give you a clearcut map to follow. What I can give you, should you begin to consider whether or not you are getting what you need out of your current “health” care options, whether or not the institutions that are serving you, are actually serving you, is a beginning place.
And that beginning place starts when you begin to wonder. Wonder if you are at the very center of the care you receive. Wonder whether what is happening in the systems all around you… from the cost, to the procedures recommended, to the maze you must travel to get what you need, to the fact that you must keep a job you hate to be covered, to the imbalanced focus on treatment as opposed to prevention, to the way your practitioner types away while you are talking to them, to the rushed sense you have when you finally get in to see someone, to the teller-like atmosphere in the office when you check in…is in fact, in your best interest.
This is a very big and necessary thing we are doing here together and “the only” thing it asks of you is to begin to shift your perspective from “Someone else is in charge of my health,” to “I am in charge of my health.”