I was taking a shower at the wonderful Microtel in Beautiful Waterloo, New York when I stepped out and saw a small advertisement on the bathroom door handle for the hotel. It said something along the lines of “we’re ‘green’, just look at our colours!” with a small yellow circle, a plus sign, a small blue circle, a small equals sign and then a green circle.
Being an alternative health care practitioner, I often find myself trying to come up with good analogies or examples of what it is I do, and why my approach to your health might seem weird. When I saw this ad, a quick train of thought ran through my head. Buckle your seatbelt and open your mind.
Blue plus Yellow equals Green right? Well… maybe. When we eventually make it into school for kindergarten or grade 1 (I don’t remember when I first learned it) we learn to paint. We do finger paintings, conventional paintings, we have pencil crayons, proper crayons and the like. We know when we paint the green grass that we ran on last weekend into a picture, we have to combine yellow and blue. Yellow, blue and red are the “primary” colours in paint, and we are VERY comfortable and confident that when we combine yellow and blue, we will get green.
Fast forward 10 or 11 years to physics class in high school. We learn about the spectrum of light. You may recognize that white light will refract into a rainbow of colours due to your familiarity with Pink Floyds album cover for Dark side of the moon. Well when we learn the “primary” colours of the spectrum of light, we find out they are red, blue, and GREEN! What???!? Impossible. Green is half blue -half yellow, how the heck could they say it’s a primary colour! Fools!
I’m fairly confident you didn’t react that aggressively, but that uncomfortable feeling you got is a PERFECT example of learning something that isn’t congruent with your current paradigm. Green IS a primary colour when we are talking about the spectrum of light. So even though it might feel odd, it’s still right. It’s just a different way to look at things. It’s a different paradigm (and maybe a subtle reason why physics isn’t overly popular in high school) which makes us uncomfortable. What is important is to embrace that discomfort. It’s only when we’re outside our comfort zone that we can grow.
So now let’s switch over to health care. I can’t speak for everyone, or even for the many different forms of alternative health care. What I can do, is offer a reason to why exercise is important, and should be fun, why chiropractic is more than “cracking” bones, and why eating well actually matters. When you have a bacterial infection, you take antibiotics and you’re cured. The medical doctor uses careful measurement and lab tests to determine which type of bacteria it is so that they can prescribe the appropriate and most effective antibiotic for you. Thank goodness for medicine, in this setting.
Let’s look at another scenario. You show up to your MD for your yearly check up and the doctor finds you are in the high end of normal for fasting blood glucose, total and LDL cholesterol, you’re overweight and you suffer from odd sleep patterns and digestive issues. You don’t give it much thought as none of them are overly alarming and they’re “part of life”. You mention that you “get through it” and that it must just be that you’re “getting older”. What they might do, is offer a prescription statin for your cholesterol, a medication to help with your blood sugar, a sleeping pill for when you’re having trouble sleeping and a myriad of other medications/advice for your digestive problems. Each problem is addressed, and supplied a “solution” for. But what if all those problems stem from one common source?
Enter the alternative health care practitioner. We don’t have a pill to give you or a surgery to suggest that will fix your problem. However, if we work together with you, over time, you will experience greater health than you could ever imagine. Your chiropractor will help you move within a full range of motion, without pain, and this effect on your movement neurology will aid in everything from digestion to headaches and those random aches and pains you have. Taking nutritional advice will help you come back to balance and avoid foods that are insulting your body in the subtlest of ways (and sometimes in NOT so subtle ways). Taking the time for physical activity regularly at a leisurely pace, and occasionally at a challenging pace will produce an adaptation in your body that will help you experience your goals in a more timely manner. Over time, you notice that you don’t have that nagging knee pain, your headaches are gone, you’re looking better in the mirror and you are maybe even getting more compliments. But none of it came quickly, and you have no idea exactly how it happened. There was no quick, specific thing you added or took away to “fix” you. Who knows if your knee no longer hurts due to better walking biomechanics from the exercises or chiropractic or if it was a lack of gluten wearing away at your cartilage.
When you accept that there is no quick fix, and that YOU are responsible for your everyday health, and that we (alternative health care practitioners) have devoted our lives to learning how to help you experience your greatest health, you may notice that at first this new approach is uncomfortable, but then after a while, you figure it out. It isn’t the same as medicine, but it works too. It isn’t wrong because it’s different, it’s different because it’s different. So when you slip back into the one problem – one solution thinking, and you will, and you wonder, “wait! what was it that made me feel so much better? Was it the exercise? The chiropractic? The massage? The nutrition?”, just remember that it wasn’t any of those things…
it was you.