I was talking with Earrings Off! co-host Teresa recently about what I believe may be a problem in our community. Teresa shared that growing up she went to the doctor if needed and both she and her three brothers went to the dentist and had physicals each year before they started the school year.
I shared with Teresa that neither my mom, siblings or I had routine medical visits of any kind. We only went to the dentist or doctor when the matter was so serious that immediate medical attention was warranted. You know, like your arm was grotesquely hanging from your body indicative of a fracture. And you were writhing from the pain.
Fast forward to years later when I had my first government job with good benefits; routine medical care was part of the benefits package. Six-month teeth cleanings and annual physicals were included.
Since such routine care and on-demand doctor visits required a minimal co-pay, I took full advantage. I would run to the doctor if I had the slightest ailment and they would fix me right up, by diagnosing me with some malady and prescribing some medication. I would scurry off to the pharmacy, get the med, take them as prescribed and be fine…until the next time. I began to notice that the period before “the next time” started becoming increasingly shorter. One issue would be resolved, only to be replaced by another.
Enter my husband’s Aunt Sina who, if you have read any of my earlier blogs, should be well known to you by now. Aunt Sina was into natural health many, many years before that became a buzz phrase. Her habits and decisions started and ended with maintaining optimal health. Part of that maintenance strategy focused on questioning why you felt sick, what was your body telling you and what did you need to do to make your body return to wellness. God bless her; she taught me that through the years. I was kicking and screaming the whole time. Until it clicked. It clicked after I began to realize it worked.
Blacks often didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford to get medical care, even when it was desperately needed. When that changed for many of us, we took full advantage of going to the doctor. For me personally I reasoned that wasn’t a sign of having “made it” the fact that I had good insurance and could be seen by the best physicians? Well, it was until I started thinking differently. Aunt Sina was right all along. The best plan is to not need to visit the doctor and not need to ingest toxic chemicals into your body via cute little oddly shaped pills that come in various colors. They are manufactured to look harmless. Those little pills break other things down in your body and cause you to need more little colored pills. We take the pills automatically as do our neighbors, our family members and our friends. We think this is normal and unavoidable. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve come full circle on this point in my life. I no longer consider it good fortune that I can run to the doctor frequently and easily afford a prescription. If you think that frequent visits to the doctor and cheap co-pays on prescriptions is the best thing for your health, you may want to take a pause and think about that a bit more. I am not saying don't take your prescribed medication, what I am asking you to do is to ask questions and work to find out what adjustments you can make to get better. I’m no doctor, but I implore you to consider this strategy in the future.
After having done so for myself, I now consider myself rich indeed when I truly have no need to visit my doctor except for a routine wellness visit. During those visits, I now know I am winning when after looking at my chart, my doctor looks at me and says, “Ms. Ali, I haven’t seen you in a while.” When this happens, I get a feeling of abundance that no amount of money will ever match. As a black woman, this nugget of wisdom is the generational wealth that I am desperately trying to leave for my family. I really need them to get this and I try to role model it for them. I let them see me grabbing my gym bag and going for my workout. I let them see me grimace in pain from a headache rather than immediately reaching for a pain reliever to mask my pain as I try to be patient and figure out what I did (or didn’t do) to throw my system out of whack. Was it too much sugar, is it the pollen, am I stressed? I use whatever detective skills I possess to figure out what is wrong. I then try to craft a plan to help my body heal naturally without putting in another toxin (i.e. a pain reliever). I’m sure Aunt Sina is smiling.