Sitting in the doctor’s office in the skimpy paper gown, all I could think of was,“I don’t have time for all of these referrals!” It was time to check this, check that and the other thing, not because I am chronically, or even temporally, ill. It was because Big Brother Insurance (cousin to Big Pharma) prescribes it is time and because I’m of that “magic age” 60! People say I don’t look 60 and I don’t feel it most of the time. In my mind’s eye and heart, I’m really 30 years old. Try telling that to the medical community.
Don’t get me wrong, traditional medicine was a very valuable asset as a child in the 50’s, 60’s and beyond, for how could I EVER have gotten through about 17 orthopedic and 33 throat surgeries without them? I shudder to think about what they did in ancient times putting “people like me” with significant disabilities on paper in institutions. However, medical care is all about mergers, big business and profitability with insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry and many others as co-conspirators.
We still have so much education to do regarding the acceptance of integrative medicine and naturopathic methods. It’s a long and rare find to get a traditionally trained internal medicine physician to consider any natural methods to your body’s conditions. It’s like putting your shoes on the wrong feet, I guess. An integrative approach takes advantage of both worlds in medicine, traditional and holistic.
I lost the attention of the most highly rated dermatologist in the State of Connecticut when she staunchly refused to open her mind to consider any other methods after all of her expensive injector drugs, IV’s and creams failed to work on my plaque psoriasis. I still like her as a person, but I am disappointed that she was so closed-minded.
The best news of all was that Dr. Dalal Akoury of AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center in Myrtle Beach, SC was truly the answer to my problems, for she took great care to diagnose and treat the root cause versus the symptom. I am successfully carrying on nearly three years later, despite my crazy stressful life. And I’m just one example in a million.
With pen and paper or computer mouse poised for action, I love the question each time an exam is due, “So what medications are you taking now? I revel in saying “None, I just take natural supplements.” They really can’t deal with that, it does not compute, it’s Greek to them. They have never heard of the companies or the names, nor can they spell them. If you’re not going to CVS three times a week, they can’t deal. Poor them! I choose to spend my time elsewhere.
And then there’s the health care plan with State Government rules imposed. I am so fortunate to have Cadillac level insurance for just about anything that might happen. Around 2011 or so, state government got smart and decided to become the health care police for all of the expensive benefits if employees weren’t paying attention! They decided to contrive a Health Enhancement Plan.
From the Current Employee Handbook-
The Health Enhancement Program (HEP)
Regardless of what health plan you select, you and your family can enroll in the Health Enhancement Program (HEP). HEP encourages employees and their enrolled family members to take charge of their health and health care by following health guidelines defined by the program. By signing up for HEP, you can save $100 per month in premiums and become eligible for waiver of an annual in-network deductible of $350 per member (up to a maximum of $1400 per family).
From the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (i.e. Unions)
This voluntary enhancement program shall be made available to all state employees and retirees (including all enrolled dependents) during each open enrollment as part of all of the Point of Enrollment and Point of Service plans currently available.
It shall include a written commitment) to the requirements of the program in order to be admitted and remain admitted to the program, including agreed upon health assessments and screenings designed to provide early diagnosis and appropriate information to patients so that they and their doctors can choose the best treatment of any illness; This program is designed to enhance the ability of patients with their doctors to make the most informed decisions about staying healthy, and, if ill, to treat their illness.
They set up a plan in which you can track your progress with a timeline. What fun! If you have one of “The Big 5” and don’t pay attention, you will be fined each month.
i. Diabetes, both Type 1 and 2
ii. Asthma and COPD –Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
iii. Heart failure/heart disease
iv. Hyperlipidemia- Hyperlipidiemia is a mouthful, but it’s really just a fancy word for too many lipids – or fats – in the blood. That can cover many conditions, but for most people, it comes down to two well-known terms: high cholesterol and high triglycerides.
v. Hypertension- High Blood Pressure
In concept, I agree with this plan. It’s almost like trying to keep track of multiple offenders in the criminal justice system. If you can nip marijuana in the bud, potentially no escalation to heroin. If you can reform someone who steals a car, perhaps you will have less homicide – in theory. If you can get your cholesterol levels down, less chance to have a heart attack or CVA-stroke. Genetics also plays a role whether you have “the disease” or not, if it’s in the family you must be tested! Hmmm… Think about George Burns, smoking cigars well into his 90’s. Genetics is the magic formula.
Back to my Exam – As someone told me, “You’re in the system, they’ve got you.” Recommended examples for someone my age in good health with my family profile: Mammogram, Colonoscopy, Blood levels for Cholesterol, Bone Density Scan.
When I can fit them in, I’m doing it “just because” and I don’t want to miss something bad! I don’t want to have a devastating surprise, but that would be a fatalist’s point of view. I prefer to be optimistic. After all, the law of averages says that I have had enough health problems on paper for ten people, so I’m not worried. But, I’d rather be writing, helping crime victims or a million other things.
Age is just a state of mind, anyway!