I don’t want to get into politics, but I’ve decided I’m better served not needing health care — no matter who is in charge. I feel more like a child in a custody battle than a citizen of these United States when it comes to health care. But I’m beginning to find myself thankful for it. It makes me take ownership for my own health.
Long before the battle of “repeal and replace” and the perpetual standoff between Democrats and Republicans and other divisions stalemating good and healthy change in these Divided States, I had determined it’s better not to need health care.
But although I embraced that in my head and most of my lifestyle, I didn’t embrace it in earnest until a few weeks ago. That was when I’d visited my chiropractor a second time in a week for back pain that wasn’t receding much. I’d asked him, after an uncomfortable but seemingly fruitless back-cracking session, if he really could tell if my facets were moving into the right place.
“Not really,” he’d admitted then. “Your lower back is super tight. You’re so inflamed, especially when you report to me after an injury, that there isn’t room for movement.”
I left his office discouraged, feeling hopeless. I’d been seeing this doctor for about a year and a half as needed, and though I always felt better after a visit, I had not been free of back pain. I had always thought that dying young (or youngish, as I’m hardly the picture of youth now) would be tragic. (I certainly don’t want to die before I’ve written my world-changing book.) But, recently, I’ve found myself thinking that living long with chronic pain might be more tragic.
So the following morning, I decided I needed to take control of my inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s response to injury and infection. Symptoms can include pain, redness, swelling, stiffness and heat. The symptoms are the body’s way of saying we are injured or diseased and need healing. Pain and stiffness stop us from using an injured joint, for example, and so inflammation can be a good protection against further injury.
But sometimes our bodies try to defend us from infection and injury that aren’t present. And that’s when inflammation can become chronic — and so can pain.
I knew I couldn’t take medications such as ibuprofen to cover my pain perpetually or I would have other issues. I now knew I couldn’t see my doctor and get an instant cure. I needed to do my part to get rid of the pain. But how? I’d purchased a book more than 10 years ago titled Inflammation Nation by Floyd H. Ski Chilton; I’d read it, but I hadn’t acted on the author’s science and advice. But that day, I was desperate. I breezed through the science, took the author’s quiz, and found the guidelines for eating to reduce inflammation.
I also did a number of searches online for what to eat and what not to eat if I wanted to reduce inflammation, compared them, and came up with a plan. And then I proceeded to adjust my diet. (Short story: No sugar. No refined foods. A little healthy fat such as coconut or olive oil. A little whole grain. Some lean animal products. Nuts. Lots of fish. Lots of vegetables, not french fries. Lots of fruit. Oh, and chia seeds.)
Since then, I’ve been careful, not perfect, but I feel better (not perfect, but so much better I can embrace a diet without sugar). More important, I have hope. I have had many moments in which I’ve felt no pain. I’ve awakened in the middle of the night, realized that I didn’t hurt, and have thanked God for healing me.
I returned to the chiropractor for a follow-up appointment, and he noticed the difference. He applauded my efforts and encouraged me to keep working to reduce inflammation.
I’m thankful I can see a doctor when I need one, but I want to be in the best health I can be by doctoring myself — so I won’t need one often. Whether our health care system is managed by government or not, managed well or not, I’m going to live as if I can’t count on it. Instead, I’ll choose self-care and God-care. And if I do have health care too, that will be the icing on the cake (that I will no longer eat). 🙂