Archives for: June 2006
A few weeks ago, a woman came into the health food store that I work at to ask advice from the owner. Her daughter (not sure of age) has severe asthma that is sometimes so bad that it keeps her up all night and out of school frequently. She said that they had been to several doctors starting with their family doctor and moving on to various specialists, who of course prescribed all kinds of scary drugs and steroids with serious side effects. Anyway, she came to the owner of the store to find out what her daughter could take that was “natural”.
So many people come into the store and ask for detailed health advice from the owner, although it is actually illegal for him to dispense health advice. Many of these people already see an ND or some other natural medicine practitioner, but some do not. For those who do not see a professional, we recommend that they do and usually can provide several names in various parts of the city.
In the case of the woman with the asthmatic daughter, we most certainly would ask if she has seen an ND, due to the complexity of her issues. So, when the owner asked this very question, she said: “No, I don’t have time for that.” So he started to explain that asthma is a complex problem which could be rooted in several causes, so an ND could deal better with that complexity. To this she responded: “I just don’t have the time, I just need to get her through school. I need you to tell me what to give her that will help.”
I had to write this blog because I still can’t get this scene out of my mind! I wanted to say to her, “So you have time to be up at night nursing your daughter, you have time for her to be off from school, you have time to deal with all the repercussions of her suffering, but you don’t have time to actually improve your daughter’s health and quality of life dramatically?” I am glad that I was not helping this woman, because I just don’t know how I could have avoided reacting to her that way. This poor girl is probably miserable enough due to her asthma, and because of her mother’s attitude she will be affected physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for the rest of her life.
Time is the one thing that everyone gets the same amount of (at least to start!), unlike money. How each of us uses our time is entirely a personal choice, but it does reflect what we value most. How do you use the time you have been given?
Yesterday I spent a few hours “pimping” my bike (a la the show “Pimp my Ride”). A couple weeks ago I spent a few hours figuring out how to put a new lock on my bike. Yesterday I attached a rear rack, then attached panniers to that, and then topped it all off by adding halogen head and taillights (which flash 4 different ways!). This took me hours because not only have I never done anything to my bike on my own before, I also lack some basic tools, so I had to ride the bike over to Canadian Tire (big hardware type place) to find a wrench. The wrench section is so huge and complicated that it took me awhile to settle on what I was going to get.
It can be so frustrating trying to follow instructions for installing a rear rack when all they say is pretty much “attach rack to bike with nuts and bolts”, but it is also very satisfying to work through all the stuff and actually come out with everything attached correctly! I like feeling handy. Relative to my friends, I am very handy and I seem to be able to deal with lots of little things in the house that need fixing. However, compared to my dad (and most men I know), I am not. Hopefully by the time I own my own home (not for a LONG time with my upcoming huge debt load!), I will be even handier!
Part of the reason I have been working on my bike so much is because it is becoming an increasingly important fixture in my life. In 2005 I think I rode my bike once. That was when I lived in the middle of the city and had a car. Now, I am riding my bike nearly every day, mostly for transportation since it takes me so much longer to get anywhere now that I don’t have a car. Did you know that you can travel 4 times faster by bike than walking?
Another fantastic benefit for me is that biking is a great counter-exercise to running. I’ve blogged in the past about how much I love to run and also my knee issues. In order to be able to run as much as I want to, I have to be quite vigilant in weight training certain muscles (to keep my body balanced) and make sure that I do run regularly. Last week I took the week off from the gym and just biked and did yoga instead. Today I went for a run and it was really great! I definitely think that the biking is working to balance the running. And finally, biking is so much fun in itself – it makes me feel like I did when I was a kid (when I pretty much lived on my bike) and I would coast down hills grinning ear to ear…
Friday is the 9th anniversary of my mother’s death.
My childhood fear was that my mother, a smoker, would contract lung cancer. In 1995, my worst fear came true. After chemotherapy and radiation, the cancer metastasized to her brain, and she repeated a cycle of brain tumour, treatment, improvement, and relapse until she died in 1997. This experience demonstrated for me the painful and frustrating nature of chronic disease. As a result, I first realized the personal relevance of healthy living. Although my mother was strongly committed to the “conventional medicine route”, her illness was the first major influence for me to become a naturopathic doctor. In an audio tape she left me after she died, she told me that her dream was for me to become a professional of some sort. She was thinking lawyer, doctor, engineer, etc, but I think ND also qualifies!
Every year I become more and more like my mother. Or, rather, I realize more and more how similar we really were. As a child I naturally had a stronger bond with my father and we got along (and still do) very easily. My father knows me better than anyone else in this world and has always been my primary source of advice and comfort. My mother and I, on the other hand, found it harder to understand one another. This was partially because we were so similar, but also because we just could not “speak the same language” it seemed. When my mother first got sick, it hit me (at age 15) pretty hard. I felt like I had always known that it would happen, but that it just COULDN’T happen, because how could I go on with my life if one of my parents died? The years of her illness are a blur to me – I think I tried to separate myself from it as much as possible. When she did pass away, it was a relief to me because I felt I could finally start my own life. Which I did – that was a key turning point in becoming who I am today.
Every year I also become more conscious of what I have lost. I don’t think about it every day, but when I do it is with a growing understanding of how MUCH I am missing because my mother is not here. While we struggled to connect when I was young, I now yearn for her perspective as an adult. I truly believe that our relationship was made to be between adults and unfortunately that will never be. Of course, this makes me sad. But, it is also comforting to me to know that that potential was there.
So, I am now moved into the house where I will be living for the next year. Boy, moving is really stressful and always a lot more trouble than I remember it…
My dad drove up last Friday morning and the first thing we did was go to get my new bed. While loading the bed pieces into the van, my dad sliced open the flap of skin between his pinky and ring fingers. While only skin (no muscle, tendons, etc) was damaged, it looked horrible and I was convinced that he needed stitches. Of course, he refused to go to the hospital because “we don’t have time – there’s too much to do”. Whatever! It’s also pretty important not to permanently damage your hand or get a raging infection… We settled on him cleaning it out in the washroom and bandaging it up tight for the rest of the day.
While very beautiful, this bed was SO hard to put together! Way too many screws, plugs, and other fiddly things, plus I had to figure out how to get a slipcover on this thing at the end, when I had long past stopped caring that everything fit together perfectly. At the end of all this, we had one screw (!) and a metal piece (?) left. Where were those supposed to go? Maybe we would have known if the instructions consisted of more than just vague drawings… We decided that there was so much other stuff holding this bed together, it didn’t need the screw and the metal bit… Right?
Then I had to pick up the rest of my furniture from my ex-boyfriend’s house. It was great that he was there to help us get it all loaded faster, but also hard for me to see him. I don’t even know what upset me so much, it was just hard to see him again and I was already super stressed by all the moving stuff.
After dinner (12 hours after the injury occurred), we did end up at the emergency room so my dad could find out if he did indeed need stitches. Now, at least in Canada, we are used to hearing all about long wait times for medical care, especially in the emergency room. This has been discussed at all levels of government in recent elections and everyone seems to have a plan to reduce wait times. But who really expects that politicians can really do anything about that? So, we still expected to wait a LONG time (eg: 3-4 hours) for my dad to be taken care of, since his issue wasn’t really an EMERGENCY, just urgent. However, to our surprise he was seen by a triage nurse only 30 minutes after we arrived and given a tetanus shot, his hand cleaned and taped up, and out of there within an hour. I was truly amazed by this speed and incredibly impressed by how courteous, patient, and efficient the nurses and doctors were.
The next day I moved my stuff out of residence and then we just unpacked and drove around to get groceries before my dad headed home. I’m so glad to be back in a real house, with a kitchen and bathroom that I don’t have to share with 20 other people! Hopefully I won’t have to move again for a long, long time.