Finding Health

You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.

– Genesis 50:20

There is now not so much as a teaspoon of refined sugar in our house.

A year ago I was informed by my doctor’s office that they had lost my health records. Three years ago my old doctor had returned to his home country and was replaced by a new one right out of medical school. My new doctor confirmed that I had no record of having been diagnosed with the chronic neuro-muscular disorder with which I had been diagnosed in 2003. He wanted to start treating me for arthritis, which my condition is not. A year ago I had gone to him seeking relief from extreme pain. He was non-responsive, clearly saw himself as a disengaged expert, and dismissive of everything I said, inferring through his silence that I was a liar. Why did I not go to another doctor? Because this is Canada and I was denied the ability to do so. I was stuck. But the medication I was taking was clearly not working, so what did I have to lose by leaving this system and its abuse behind? So after I got over this shock I went home and started to read. I ordered books and read and corresponded over the internet with others who have this condition. And I came up with a plan…a proposal.

Before I write any more and lest I be misunderstood, throughout my early and middle life I always tried to work within whatever system in which I found myself to find a solution, even if it was a compromise. I highly valued negotiation. I thought I was doing people a favour by doing so. Advocacy. But I no longer feel or think that way. Time and again this approach only fostered further irresponsibility and a lack of direction and non-responsiveness among those with whom I worked, be it academic, civil, or religious institutions. And in the end I found myself having plowed water. My wife and I decided to move on and invest our lives in things that actually mattered…a way of life that did both not foster the anti-social climate of the West and nurtured life-giving ways of relating and sustaining others, both in the USA and Canada. This ended up in us finally becoming a Catholic Worker Farm. That much was worked out before November last. But this post is about something new. Never before had we personally been the object of this dysfunction. But now that I was, and now that my health was on the line, and having been rehearsed in the skill of having named injustice and of then addressing it personally over the course of the last twenty years, it was clear what we had to do.

The cause of my condition is not known to Western medicine. And its etiology in Eastern medicine sounds too ethereal for us to fully respect, although it has its insights that resonate in daily life. So were are open and guarded in regard to each.

What made the most sense was what we found in the practise of a licensed medical doctor who has successfully treated over ten thousand people with my condition and who ascribes its root cause to a malfunction in the working of the mitochondria. So I quit taking the meds I had been on for sixteen years and which had lost their efficacy, got the new medication (available over the counter), and immediately felt almost total relief from the pain! Additionally I recovered most of my strength, which I had lost nearly two decades ago, and most of my mobility (I was able to run again!). Most doctors find fault with this new medication of one sort or another, mostly because of the lack of conclusive evidence from clinical trials which will never be run because it is a grandfathered drug. But in an evidence-based model how can you justify that? At the very least you can conclude that the actual science is inconclusive in light of the results. But this is precisely the fault with Western medicine and the medical system here, that science is always occluded by governmental and professional presumptions and corporate profits. The same is true in the USA, but there it is overshadowed by corporate interests alone. Same dynamic; different points of genesis.

So the new treatment worked. And associated with it was recommended to stop using refined sugars, caffeine, bioflavinoids, salicylates, etc.. And so I did. I did this cold turkey and it required three days of sleep to get over their effects, which I never would have guessed were so substantial. And what became clear was this, that my body had become so dependent on these things for my entire life that it had no idea of what it was to live by its own natural metabolisms and rhythms. When I was first placed on my old medication I had gained ninety pounds in the first few months of being on it and no matter how hard I tried thereafter I could not take off this weight. But now with the new treatment these pounds began to fall away and I lost fifty pounds in the first three months alone, fully attributable directly to leaving that medication behind. It also became clear that the sugars and caffeine I had used throughout my life were what had given me the strength to keep up with maniacal cultural expectations of work in the first place. But now with my mitochondria working my natural production/processing of ATP gives me more than enough energy to live responsibly throughout my day. It’s a miracle.

I have tried to speak with doctors for years about the possibility of dietary causes for my condition. But all of them have responded that nutrition is not a responsibility of theirs. I find that incredulous, that these have been more than willing to fault patients for being sick but to not address a connection between metabolism and nutrients that might be somehow related to their patient’s conditions. In my case they simply promoted a protocol set out by pharmaceutical companies that narrowly addressed one particular aspect of health to the exclusion of a holistic and personal understanding of my nutritional needs.  This myopic approach is part and parcel of today’s approach laid out by governments, and health insurers, and pharmaceutical corporations, each to their own advantage.

So now, over a year later there is – at the moment – not a teaspoon of refined sugar in our house. I have never felt better. We have and will use a minimal amount of refined sugar in some of the preserving processes of our home-canned food, but very little. It’s just not necessary in our daily lives any more.  I dont think that too many Canadians can say the same, instead, supporting the corporate production and negative biological effects of sugar.  It distorts people’s thinking and behaviour in its own way but every bit as much as alcohol and illicit drugs.

Instead of refined sugars we now focus on vegetables and fruits and proteins. And while the former has carbohydrates (sugars) these release in our bodies in a different way that provides energy over a prolonged period of time and I can actually feel it. I never run out of energy now.

And this insight is all a result of being personally abused by the medical system here. (Last January I was contacted by my doctor’s office and requested to come in for tests.  And when I enquired what tests those might be I was informed, Oh, just this and that.  So it appears that I do not have a right here to even know what my doctor is trying to test me for!)  And by the way, I finally got in to see the rheumatologist who first diagnosed my condition sixteen years ago (Mayo Clinic trained).  It took an entire year’s wait but he immediately said, Of course you have [that condition]! So now it’s on my charts…again. But I won’t be going back to see any other doctor. Several other conditions have manifest themselves in my body this past year and I have successfully treated them all, and if I cannot do it, then i am not interested in being the guinea pig of the Canadian medical system.

In spite of having personally been a care giver in hospitals for decades and trying to support my parishioners in that system and yet seeing how it often failed these people, this year has only gone to show up that the dirty rotten system has become yet even more dirty and more rotten and how I for my own part need to be discerning and proactive when it comes to a society that increasingly makes people’s health at root a point of political and economic policy and doesn’t really care about people themselves.

According to Christ, it’s the responsibility of the body of Christ to do this, and not someone else, these others who are driven by their own sense of their irascible perwerth but who  obviously couldn’t care less.  I feel sorry for patent’s these days who put their trust in this system.

I was sick and you cared for me.

– Matthew 25:36