My 3 Minutes on National TV | Healing Health Care
“If you were on the Dr. Oz show, what would you talk about?” I was out with friends the other day lamenting how I had dreams of making a difference and wish I had a bigger audience to talk to. I have a vision, I have a passion, I even have an audience. But I’d just like to find a way to make a bigger difference. My buddy looked me in the eye and asked that question. Hhmmm.
Then this week my friend and colleague Dr. Lissa Rankin (who has been asked to be on the Dr. Oz show) put out a tweet saying “Spent 2 days with my producer trying to boil my whole message into a few bullet points. What are YOUR bullet points?”
Ok, twice in one week I hear similar discussions and I just knew it was time to nail this.
My first thought is that you don’t get on National TV if you don’t have a message that is at least a wee bit different, so there should be some sort of attention grabber. I can see it now — “coming up after the break, our next guest believes he knows exactly what it takes to heal the health care system“. That’s bold, that should get some attention.
But now comes the focus part. A lot of people can tell a story pretty well if they have 30 minutes or an hour or two to talk about it. But when you get your chance to be on National TV, odds are you’re only going to have about 3 minutes to deliver your message. You can work with the interviewer to stage the questions such that you can speak to your strengths, but the bottom line is that you only get about 3 minutes to deliver.
I think the first question would have to create a connection with the audience. Then we’d get into the details. There would also have to be a closing comment about how people can help the cause to heal health care. Here’s how I picture it.
Q. So what’s your experience with the healthcare system?
A. I’d share my story about being in and out of the health care system, diagnosed with a chronic illness, and experiencing side effects of prescription drugs. I’d share that I had seen many different traditional and alternative care practitioners and had been given mixed messages from healthcare providers. As a patient, it seems like when all they have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Each healthcare provider offers a different solution to the diagnosed problem, and they all seem to believe that theirs is the best solution. Most won’t even allude to the fact that there are different potential solutions. This is so confusing to the patient, where do you turn? So I started doing some research as part of my only healing journey.
As I reached out to people to learn more, I’ve realized that I’m not alone. There are so many people that realize the health care system is confusing and broken, and many people are doing their part to make a difference.
Q. So what have you found? Why do you think the healthcare system needs to be healed?
A. Healthcare spending is escalating at a rate way higher than inflation. My understanding is that in Canada, the government is currently spending over 50% of tax dollars on healthcare. The spending is out of control and cannot continue at this rate. Yet with all the money being spent there is an increased incidence of illness and disease. While there have been great steps taken to treat the symptoms of illness and disease, the efforts made in prevention have been sorely lacking. With all the money being spent on healthcare you’d think we’d be getting better. But we’re not, we’re sicker than ever. Something has to change.
Many of the people I have learned from are talking about the U.S. health care system, but at a grass roots level, the conditions are very similar.
Dr. Andrew Weil suggests “We don’t have a health care system. We have a disease care system.”
The biggest challenge with the present system is that it keeps people in the system. Cynics suggest that there is so much money to be made. The more people in the system, the more costs that are incurred. The goal needs to be to help people learn to deal with the root causes of conditions as they arise, such that they can stay out of the system. We want to have a healthcare system that is there for us when we need it, but nobody really wants to be in the system.
Q. Why do you think that is?
A. In the current western system, there is a tendency to go see a doctor whenever a symptom presents itself. We go to our doctor looking for answers because we assume that the doctor has all the answers, and we all think we can get answers right away. That is the prevalent belief system. We get to the doctor’s office and only have a few minutes allotted to meet the doctor. We usually walk out with a prescription or a referral to a specialist.
There’s a prescription drug for everything. We act like our bodies are machines. We add a bit of oil here and there, and off we go again. We treat every symptom like a fire hydrant to put out a spark. We rarely even try to determine root causes, we only focus on treating symptoms.
Dr. Lissa Rankin suggests “There’s no incentive in the way the system is set up to prevent disease. Doctors don’t get paid if they spend an hour teaching you how to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, prevent work stress, alleviate loneliness, invest in healthy relationships, and focus on positive belief.”
Q. So what do you think is the solution?
A. There are a lot of people within government trying to solve this problem at a policy level; I think there’s a lot that can be done at an individual (consumer) level. I think it will only take a subtle shift in thinking, and I think it is a grass roots initiative beginning with empowered patients and healthcare practitioners that realize there simply has to be a better way. It’s all about awareness. We have to stop simply treating symptoms, and start looking for answers to what’s causing the condition in the first place. If we don’t start treating root causes, then the symptoms will come back, or show up in other ways. Each of us can make a difference, and it all starts when we empower ourselves to realize that we are not part of the problem, we’re part of the solution.
Q. How can the average person contribute to healing the health care system?
A. There are many things that can be done with the fundamental goal of prevention and healing. I keep a list to share with people and am writing an upcoming blog with the complete list that I have compiled to date. Here are the top 4.
- Understand that you are the Captain and Commander of your personal health care team. There are many ways to deal with conditions. It is up to you to be your own best advocate. Doctors know a lot about the human body, but you know the most about your body. You know what you’ve been eating, and you know what’s been eating you. Sometimes the best answer is to simply slow down and catch your breath. Or change your diet. Or mend a bad relationship. You can check out alternatives to see which will work best for you. If something doesn’t feel right about a practitioner’s recommendation, don’t be afraid to speak up.
- Remember that the body is designed with an innate ability to heal itself. We know that from our childhood days when we would heal from cuts and bruises, colds and flus. We know it has this ability, but there’s also a lot we don’t understand about it. Most of us have heard of the placebo effect where controlled studies have shown that many people heal from conditions even if they are not treated with the drug they may think they’re being treated with. For some reason, the idea that they think they’re going to get better contributes to their healing. Fewer people have learned about the nocebo effect. In similar studies, patients are told of the possible side effects of treatments, and some of the patients that are given a placebo experience the negative side effects. The implication is that our thoughts and beliefs about our ability to heal is a contributing factor to our recovery, or sadly, to the opposite. Learning how this applies to each of us can benefit the healing process.
- Learn to understand how your body is communicating with you. Symptoms are the body’s way of communicating that something is out of balance. If you’re under a lot of stress and get a headache, the headache is the symptom but the root cause is the stressor. I think of the headache as a whisper. If you deal with the root cause effectively, the body can bring itself back into balance. If you don’t deal with the whisper, then eventually it will turn into a scream. That could be represented by a more serious illness.
- Stop looking for the “quick fix” whenever symptoms arise. Reaching for a prescription drug may help at the present moment, but if you don’t deal with the root cause, then the symptom will likely return after the drug has worn off. There are also side effects to many prescription drugs that should be understood. You may think the condition has arisen overnight, but in most cases it has been building for a while. It may take a bit of time to heal, now is a good time to start. Give the body a bit of time to work its magic.
Q. So how can people find out more and help with your vision of healing health care?
A. The truth is that I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a lot of questions. And I know there has to be a better way. I’ve said for a long time that it will take a community to make a difference. Working under the leadership of my colleague and friend Dr. Lissa Rankin, I am the Community Manager for an online community called Heal Health Care Now, which is launching soon. Our motto is “Putting the CARE Back in Health Care”. In that community, empowered patients and health care practitioners are coming together to share stories and resources, and creating Calls to Action in what Martha Beck describes as the “Everywhen”. This is a world wide initiative.
Hhhmm, that seems about right. That seems like a good segment. I’m sitting by the phone waiting for the call.
So that’s how I’d spend my 3 minutes on National TV. How would you spend yours? It’s not too crazy, you know. I would hazard a guess that everybody that has been invited for a segment on National TV has started with a dream and a passion. At one point they may have thought it was a crazy idea. Then it happened. It can happen for you too.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section below.
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