Awhile back I wrote an article about how medicine is a spiritual practice, and in response, I received an email from a surgery resident at Columbia University that left me in tears and inspired me to share it.
Those of you who have been following my story know it’s been quite the journey for me to heal my relationship with the medical community. At one point, I wrote about how I was pissed at doctors, but even then, I knew that if I ever wanted to help heal my profession, I’d have to release the anger I felt against the medical profession, heal the post-traumatic stress I suffered from abuse at the hands of doctors, forgive those who hurt me, and open my heart. I knew I was healing when I was able to write this love letter to doctors.
Then, when I got this letter, I felt my heart just melt.
Just wanted to drop you a line and let you know I really enjoyed your article I saw on Dr. Frank Lipman's website. I am a surgery resident at Columbia, and I have similar frustrations with our health care system. I know you say that the heart of medicine is broken. I would argue in many respects that it's completely gone. Or at least lost or ignored. The beeping IV's, respiratory monitors, the drone of the dialysis machine, and the extensive lines and drains that unnaturally sprout from our patients all work in unison to creat a barrier between us and our patients. As our western knowledge expands at an exponential rate and we become more and more technologically advanced we continue to build the wall higher brick by brick further sealing off the humanity of the patient on the other side.
We spend hours upon hours intellectualizing our patient's disease processes. Breaking them down layer upon layer into organ system, lab values, vital signs, ins and outs and we do little to recognize the very thing that makes them human - the very thing that gives them life and individuality. We limit too much our own definition of "health". We narrow it to something too simple, such as a rhythm strip or a pulse; to something that denies the vitality that should exist in the definition.
Life and health shouldn't be just a beating heart, working lungs, liver or kidney, but a whole story. A story of love and passion and spirituality and belief and uniqueness. And we do a disservice to all of our patients when we forget it. They can feel this. You can see the dissatisfaction on their face as we deny them this and separate it from their physical disease. We are in dire need of a change in paradigm. What will it take for us to reevaluate? To realize that it's broken. The conversation has to start changing somewhere. Thank you for being a spark.
How does epic change happen? (I wrote some thoughts about it here). But essentially, it happens when the consciousness of the collective recognizes the error in how it operates and begins to shift. How can we fix our broken health care system? The surgeon is right. We - both health care providers and patients - must first acknowledge that the current system isn’t working and demand changes that will align us with the truth of how people heal.
It’s time to face the truth and take health care back into our own hands.
Start by joining the movement. Sign up in the database I’m collecting of those who want to be part of the change here. When it’s time to take action, we’ll rally.
Print out the Doctor-Patient agreement found by signing up for the database above and invite your doctor to partner with you.
Recognize that, at least a percentage of the time, you can heal yourself. Start making your body your business, rather than handing over 100% responsibility for your health to someone else.
Tap into your Inner Pilot Light. Listen to the messages your body gives you and ask yourself what your body needs in order to heal. (For help connecting with your Inner Pilot Light, sign up for the free Daily Flame.) Once you know what’s best for you and your body, be brave enough to speak and live your truth.
Support laws that will reduce the cost of health care in the US. How broken will our health care system have to get before we recognize this? (I speculate about the answer here). The US spends more than any other country on health care but only has the 8th highest life expectancy. Rising costs of health care have forced doctors to cram 40+ patients into their schedule, and it’s severing the precious doctor-patient relationship. We must reduce the cost of delivering health care by disarming Big Pharma, limiting greedy ambulance chasing lawyers, making health insurance not-for-profit or instituting universal health care, and turning to natural and preventative solutions when possible, rather than going high tech (and high expense) at every turn.
Open your heart. Making change will require all of us to open our hearts, to forgive those who have hurt us, to focus on what is in the highest good, not just for ourselves, but for the collective.
Share your thoughts. Tell us how you’re taking action or tell us your story here.
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Revolutionary, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.
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