The Battle Over Health

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The Battle Over Health

The battle over health:

Health is a word which should not invoke military imagery like war or battle. And yet the lines have been drawn with stakes which have seldom been greater.

Many decades ago the wars began, the war against heart disease, the war against cancer, naming only a few. With the introduction of Medicare during the Johnson administration, the United States government entered the world of medicine with guns blazing.

Each successive President added his personal touch:

  • Carter empowering the originally weak and ineffective Federal Drug Administration,
  • Reagan passing the Bayh-Dole Act which introduced the ability to declare a patent on what had formerly been considered communal goods: New drugs.
  • Coupled with successive massive infusions of big money to fund research, the formerly cottage industry of medicine became big business. Very big business.

How it began:

“The twentieth century saw the professions of law and medicine enjoying an extended alliance where medical decision-making was awarded with more and more autonomy by the state and federal governments, such that the profession of medicine was infused with more self-rule than had ever before been granted. This new alliance was deserving of a new concept and new language by the sociologists studying the dizzying speed with which medicine was gaining political and cultural power.

The word profession describes a group of individuals whose knowledge, education, vocabulary, decision-making and yes, even poor outcomes, could be evaluated only by one another. Individuals who lacked specialized training could not reasonably judge the practice of the physician.

Doctors were individuals who were above the common law because their specialized knowledge and expertise placed them outside of the usual human foibles of greed, immorality, corruption and ignorance; only other doctors were permitted to testify for or against physicians accused of malpractice or negligence. Such was the agreement between medicine and law for much of the last century.”

These words were written by my fictional character Kate Townsend in the first of the Lindsey McCall mystery series: The Fragrance Shed By A Violet: Murder in the Medical Center. Investigative journalist Townsend is writing about the bizarre series of events which have resulted in a conviction of murder for renowned cardiologist Dr. Lindsey McCall.

Health and Tom Brady

Upon reading about the brouhaha raised by famed quarterback Tom Brady’s claims that soft drinks like coke and fast foods were poison along with Brady’s claims that it was a holistic practitioner rather than a physician who helped heal his ACL injury, I wonder if a new battle has begun. One ignited by persons intent on controlling their health. Persons like Tom Brady.

And if what has been formerly looked upon as ‘alternative’ or ‘non-traditional’ health care may come to be seen as merely common sense.

“I had doctors with the highest and best education in our country tell me that I wouldn’t be able to play football again, that I would need multiple surgeries on my knee for my staph infection, that I would need a new ALC, a new MCL, and that I wouldn’t be able to play with my kids when I’m older….I’ve chosen a different approach, and that’s what I’m providing to other athletes.”

Admittedly I am biased in favor of Tom Brady. Prior to his becoming quarterback for the Patriots, football was of no interest to me. But thirteen years ago, on a snowy night when the Patriots were losing to the San Diego Chargers, the camera illuminated his young face and revealed a determination, grit and an intensity I’d never seen before…serving as a metaphor for all things which seem impossible. I could almost read the words he was saying to himself…”No matter what this takes, or what is required by me, we WILL win this game”. And they did.

Brady’s alliance with a holistic practitioner named Alex Guerrero, a quack, liar and charlatan if you believe the detractors or if you weigh in on the side of Brady, perhaps a few changes can help each of us feel better. Maybe a lot better. Isn’t it time to consider what healthy people do to maintain and or restore their health as opposed to the invasive and chemical alternatives?

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