Friday, October 21, 2011

I am not a Doctor

In a recent thread, I was advised that 'you are not a doctor'... I think it was meant as a criticism.

I am not a doctor.  I want to make this perfectly clear.  I do not have a degree and I am not a medical practitioner.  And I don't want to be. I am also not a scientist, who does research and publishes papers in recognized journals.

What am I?  I am, I believe, a relatively intelligent person with a very different point of view.

Doctors and alternative medical practitioners look at life and health through their medical practice.  They see things through what I call a 'lens of illness'.  The job of a doctor is to diagnose illness and prescribe treatments.  When a doctor rises in the hierarchy to an administrative role - their job rises to encompass the structures that help doctors do a better job.

I believe the best thing about doctors is their ability to diagnose and treat illness.  And I believe their greatest weakness is an inability to see the forest for the trees - the inability to see health for disease.

My blog is about health, not illness.  This is a bit of a challenge to explain, because when doctors speak about health - they look through their illness lens.  We have Health Systems - that treat illness.  We have Health Insurance - that insures against illness.  And health is generally defined as 'lack of illness'. So when people read my blog posts - the natural instinct is to think in terms of illness, to look through a 'lens of illness'.  Few people have practiced looking through a 'lens of health'.

I look at the world, and even at medicine, through a health lens.

I start from the presumption that we can and must study health without reference to illness, if we are to gain a fundamental understanding of health.  Can you imagine what the field of engineering might look like, if we studied engineering based on what to do when bridges fall down? If a bridge was judged to be 'healthy' or 'broken'.  With no middle ground?   My hierarchy of health and associated chart of health disciplines of study, makes no reference to illness. Health comes first. Illness comes later.

When I do speak about illness, it is from a health perspective, not a medical perspective.  Medical doctors, often in emergency mode, look at illness as something to be treated or cured.  I look at illness from a health perspective.  I see illness as imbalances in health, or caused by imbalances in health. I have grouped the primary causes of illness into six areas of deficiency or excess - basically imbalances of health. When I encounter illness, I think about causes, not about solutions, I think about healing, not about curing. I leave treatments and cures to the doctors - who have well defined systems for that purpose.

I do believe, of course, that doctors, alternative medicine practitioners, and other so called 'health professionals' will benefit from a health perspective, or health lens - when looking at illness and at people who are ill.

I have studied health for many years.  I remember being shocked when I first viewed a very old copy of the Physicians' Desk Reference (PDR), a guide to prescription drugs. Shocked because there was no structure. No foundation of health (or of illness) was provided.  I started to search for a foundation to understand health - and over 10 years or more I found none.  So I wrote one.

I blogged it in January 2010 - and revised it in July 2010 to create the hierarchy of health. I have looked, but not yet seen any alternative, or competitor to my hierarchy, which extends from basic nutrients to health communities.

My blog is an exploration of the ideas that flow from the hierarchy and from a 'health lens'.

When I look through my 'health lens', I see words like health, illness, treatment, cure, heal and pain in a very different light.  To be honest, I see few answers - but I do see many important questions that have never been asked.  I believe these questions will help us to understand and improve our health.

One of the most important questions that arises again and again is "how can we measure health?".  Many references define health as 'not sick'.  Health is viewed as 100 percent, or sick.  We often see statements like "She was perfectly healthy - but last week she was diagnosed with cancer."  But we know it takes many years to develop cancer.  I see health as a scale, not an absolute.  A complex scale of health measurements needs to be developed if we are to understand health. I think about this often and blog about it occasionally. How can we measure nutritional health? Cellular health?  Why are people judged as healthy - and then diagnosed as 'dying' shortly afterwards?

Another important question is "What nutrient amounts can contribute to optimizing health?"  I view nutrients as the foundation of health and the primary preventative and treatment for illnesses. We have well developed definitions of the nutrient amounts to prevent illness, but very little (I can't find any) research into nutrients contribution to optimize health.  This can be expected - because we don't measure health, so we cannot know how to optimize it.

In my research, I often encountered the food myth. The concept that we can best improve our health by eating the right foods.  Irregardless of the facts that many foods contain supplements, that many contain toxins, that many so called foods contain little or no nutrient value - and most important, many studies have demonstrated that optimal health cannot be obtained through a normal healthy diet. Pregnant mothers are advised to take supplements for the health of their babies - to improve their health. And recent studies show that many women need to improve their health levels BEFORE they get pregnant. We all have new cells, developing and growing every day. They need to be as healthy as possible to contribute to our health. It's time to bust the food myth once and for all.

My blog is also about freedom, personal health freedom.  My research into health freedom was very discouraging.  Many people who write about health freedom have an axe to grind.  From alternative practitioners who want freedom to market their treatments, to people who worry about the security of their health information.  These people have valid points of view, valid arguments, and bring excellent information to the discussion. But none of them addresses the fundamentals of health freedom.

So, I did a bit of research into fundamentals of freedom, and wrote a Universal Declaration of Health Freedom. Along the way I made two interesting discoveries about freedom that are worth review.  First, fundamental rights DO NOT come with responsibilities attached.  Only non-fundamental rights come with responsibilities. Second, one of the most commonly cited rights, the right to own property, is not a fundamental right - because it comes with responsibilities attached.

I saw that the right to life and liberty are fundamental.  And added the right to pursuit of healthiness.  There were many choices available to phrase this right - I chose the simplest to provide support for my personal beliefs.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of healthiness.

I see many restrictions on our rights to health - and frankly I am shocked at the inconsistencies that currently exist. I believe that all restrictions on health and health actions need to be founded on solid science, clearly published - and open to challenges. At present we have many health restrictions that are totally arbitrary and almost impossible to challenge. Like the Teddy Bear that contains a pouch of white rice, banned, confiscated and impounded -  because ???

I am not a doctor. I am not a lawyer.  I am a retired computer systems analyst, with 30 years experience analyzing systems from the inside and the outside - seeing the forest and the trees - making challenges and changes to goals, objectives, policies and procedures in a bureaucratic organization that wants to move forward and doesn't like change. I am a retired computer geek, a former toastmaster, a chessplayer who reached candidate master strength at my peak.  A volunteer. A photographer. Someone who loves music, travel, horses, nature, swimming, biking, Tai Chi and new experiences, but does not own a television.

I am one man with a strange point of view - through my health lens - and some very strong beliefs that result from that view.

I believe in health, and health freedom.  I am
yours in health,
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: