I grew up on antibiotics. Every ailment -- sore throats, earaches, flus -- warranted a trip to the doctor and in most cases some kind of prescription. I was not alone. Most kids I knew were treated the same way. One way. In those days there was very little discussion about any potential negative impact of this go-to approach to cure physical symptoms. Ailments were something to be immediately "fixed" with whatever medicine the doctor assigned. There didn't seem to be any exploration of the bigger picture. There seemed to be no research into the source of the symptoms or any underlying factors. There seemed to be little care or understanding of the future complications that might later manifest from such treatment.
It wasn't insensitive parenting or hasty doctors. We just didn't know then what we know now. I'm comforted by how much more awareness we have today and how much more research we have access to. There's an increasing respect for the value of alternative treatments such as homeopathic medicine -- for many antibiotics are no longer the go-to prescription but are now utilized only when truly needed. A child's fever is no longer something to be automatically treated with Tylenol or ibuprofen. Parents are now advised to examine the particular symptoms and not simply the number on the thermometer. While it may sound strange, a fever of 101 does not necessarily mean that a child is in physical danger or even uncomfortable. Like each child, each illness is unique. One child may be content at a fever of 101 while another might be terribly agitated.
My own path towards wellness has been a long and dynamic one. It's taught me that healing from the inside out takes time and there can be great value in various sources of guidance. Don't get me wrong -- I have great respect for traditional or Western medicine, and it has literally been a lifesaver for me on several occasions. But it is no longer the end-all-be-all for addressing every ailment that comes my way. Today, when I find myself in a physical predicament -- an allergic reaction, unexplainable fatigue, a common cold -- I'm no longer looking for a quick-fix. Options are now my friends. I've come to really appreciate all of the alternatives out there, many of which pre-date "modern medicine." Many of these old recipes are actually what the pharmaceutical companies base their medicine on: herbs.
In the past, I often found that when I reached out for a fast cure it led me down a slippery slope of more medications, hopeful dependence on the next prescription and ultimately a much longer drawn-out illness. I became increasingly aware of the natural desire to get better as quickly as possible, thereby missing out on some great opportunities for growth. Just last month, for example, before making a big move from Colorado to California I had a terrible rash all over my body from a spider bite. Of course I wanted to erase all of the symptoms -- the pain, my swollen face and body, the frightening bumps up and down my legs that made it hard even to put on a pair of pants. I realized, however, that by first consulting with my naturopath and attempting alternative treatments, I could face and work through the deeper concerns -- the stress about moving, fears about change, difficult feelings about loss. Maybe the reaction to the spider bite was just bad luck -- wrong place (the hills of Colorado), wrong time (encountering this spider on a hike just one week before moving) -- but I chose to see it as more than that. My body, as I saw it, was susceptible to this kind of physical reaction because the impending move had left me somewhat worn-down, emotionally drained and in need of support. I saw it as an opportunity to do some personal work, to take some responsibility for my own health and healing.
I've found that balance is key. I'm no longer an extremist in any one direction. When I need to go to a doctor, I go. If I need to take medicine, I take it. But I do a lot more research than I used to and I get involved. I no longer look for a prescription as a quick fix for a single symptom; I look at my body as a whole and explore the mind-body connection. I consider my emotional state, external pressures, and any recent changes in habit or lifestyle. I do this when it comes to my kids' health and well-being as well. I think it's important that we be involved in this way, to pay attention and make a commitment to healing our bodies. After all, aren't we worth it?
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