Before children, I was a lot of things. I was fun, energetic, available for a party at short notice. I was also a career woman. And my role title, for a time, was 'Problem Manager'.
"Got a problem? Make yourself at home." I would say that with a wink and my hand making gun shooting motions.
It's a stupid title, but it was a really cool job, and one of the only roles I've ever had that proved useful to all parts of my life so far on this planet, rather than only being useful to an I.T. department full of nerds.
Something I could never have foreseen was how my training in Problem Management would equip me in a fairly unique way to be a parent of a child with numerous undiagnosed health issues.
Now, I am going to try and simplify this next part in a manner that will not cause your head to loll and your mouth to drool as you try to stay awake.
It's actually REALLY good, useful stuff, so PAY ATTENTION.
Problem Management is quite simply a process where you find the root cause of an ongoing issue and resolve it in a way that it will not occur again.
So pretend that you work in an office, and suddenly you can't log in to your computer. You call the IT department and they tell you that it is an issue that they are aware of, lots of people are having the same problem, and they are working on it, and it should be sorted out really soon.
Time to go shoe shopping!
Meanwhile, in the IT department, there is a lot of screaming, smoke and panicked activity while your trusty IT geeks rush around trying to get a manager's approval to reboot one of the main servers, and when they have done it, WHADDAYAKNOW, everyone can now log on. JUST as you were sneaking out the door, dreaming of Jimmy Choo, someone yells out those dreaded words: "We're back online!"
Oh goody. Back to work.
And hopefully, that is all you will ever know of the issue.
But back at I.T. central, if they have good processes in place, this would be the beginning of the investigation. Because it's all very well rebooting a machine and WHADDAYAKNOW, that sorts the problem, but if you don't know why it happened in the first place, then it could happen again, right? In fact it probably WILL happen again, and the company you're working for will lose millions of dollars while all its employees wander the halls drinking coffee and gossiping, because they can't actually log in and WORK. (So what if that's all you do when you CAN log in, it's a totally different issue...)
By rebooting the server, and lucking out, the I.T. guys came up with a 'workaround', NOT to be confused with a SOLUTION.
The solution comes when a team of clever I.T. guys now sit around and plan a way to figure out what went wrong with the machine in the first place, rigorously go through every possible cause until the find the ACTUAL cause, and then they come up with a plan to solve it once and for all. Find the root cause, fix it forever, never have an outage again....well that's the dream, anyway, and when it happens, there is usually good vibes and high fives.
Now slap yourself around the cheeks, and return with me to the real world, where we are talking about the human body as if it were that faulty server that crashed. The human body is currently having so many issues that doctors are completely overwhelmed. We are having heart attacks, diagnoses of type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, allergies, autism, eczema, asthma, obesity, speech delay, reflux and heartburn, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome (and these are just some of the issues that we refer to as epidemic in their numbers).
All of these issues are not actually diseases, but SYMPTOMS, in the same way that the office workers couldn't log on to their computers was actually a SYMPTOM that something was wrong. This is a VERY important distinction that is not really being made these days.
Did you know that 500 new autoimmune diseases are discovered every year? If you would think like a problem manager for a moment, however, consider the logical alternative that autoimmune disease is actually a really awful symptom. A symptom that something is wrong in our bodies and is causing our immune system to respond in a way that makes us really sick. What that would mean is that every newly discovered autoimmune disease is not unique, or a separate issue, because it is far more likely that they are all caused by the same root cause (damaged gut microflora) and can be resolved by some fundamental changes to our lifestyles (remove toxins, eat clean and healing foods). I know I am just a mum spouting theories, but this does seem to be the consensus being reached by microbiologists doing exciting new research (here's one example on multiple sclerosis: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/could-multiple-sclerosis-begin-in-the-gut/)
But here is where everything goes wrong for us humans.
While a change in diet is often half-heartedly advised by GPs as an afterthought (in my experience), the first port of call in this day and age, because of the state of our medical system, is to offer the patient a pill or many, many pills to relieve the symptoms.
Now don't get me wrong, if the symptoms are such that relief is needed, then this is entirely appropriate. The problem that I have is that this is where the investigation stops. The pills work to help with the symptoms, the doctor sighs with the relief, the patient undertakes to live with the pills side-effects, and that is the end of it, or so we are told.
"There is no known cure, you will need to manage the disease." These are such traumatic, ominous, unchallenged, frequently spoken words.
There is no root-cause analysis in our current medical model, there is only symptom management.
So then I wonder, well GPs cannot be responsible for root cause analysis: they are simply too overwhelmed at the coal face, dealing with the epidemic levels of patients on a daily basis, to be able to allocate time to this purpose (although I know many wonderful GPs who would LOVE to be figuring this all out). So surely the job of root cause analysis should fall to our researchers, right? RIGHT?
And here's the rub.
As long as research is being funded by companies that will only recoup their expenses if a product is developed as a result of their investment, then there is a conflict of interest. Because what pharmaceutical company wants to find the root cause?
(The answer BTW, FYI, is none, zero, ziltch.)
As someone awesome on facebook once said, "If a drug company finds that celery cures heart disease, then they can't sell their drugs, so why would they tell anyone that celery cures heart disease?"
Or something like that...
Time after time I have spoken to researchers and heard the common story about how they find a break through about HOW a disease works, and at that point the goal, frustratingly, becomes to find the drug that will change that outcome.
THAT is even what charity organisations are sourcing funds for when they scream for us to "FIND A CURE". It actually means "FIND A PILL". It never means find the root cause of the problem and eliminate it, because that is not how the model works, because there is a giant conflict of interest.
In my humble opinion, this is COMPLETELY ILLOGICAL and a BROKEN SYSTEM designed to make money, NOT to save lives.
But as per most things in this society, the market only exists because the consumer exists.
That's right, my pretties, don't think you are off the hook, oh you members of society: we are in a large part to blame for this outcome. Do you know why GPs only advise a change of diet so half-heartedly?
It's not because they don't think it will work (some actually DO think it will work), it's because, in their experience, we are usually not willing to do the hard yards.
They have dished out the advice and have been disappointed too many times to have any hope that we, the patients, would actually make the common sense changes in our lifestyle choices...
And that is because most of us won't.
We WANT the pill, we want the quick fix. Change is WAY too hard, change of diet is ridiculously inconvenient in this world of ridiculous convenience. We have filled up our lives with so much STUFF, so many events, so many jobs, such big mortgages, after school activities, expectations, that we do not have the time or the money to heal our bodies.
I get it. It's hard.
DO IT ANYWAY.
We only seem to be able to embrace change when it becomes too painful to stay where we are, and many of us have a REALLY high pain threshold.
I include myself in this sorry picture. It took me 35 years of crappy health in my own body, AND 5 years of appalling health in my son, husband and daughter, for me to choose to take action against the root cause. And when we FINALLY did take the action required, oh my, what a surprise, the symptoms all went away as we healed the root cause of our health issues.
I'm talking about symptoms I didn't even know were symptoms. I'm talking about a lifetime of neck and back pain that I have always assumed were a result of poor posture: GONSKI.
Or both my children's bedwetting that miraculously stopped on the same night and never came back. Nail-biting. Pimple outbreaks, dry lips, sore feet and knees, chocolate cravings, headaches, insomnia, bad wind (that was my husband, not me. I am a lady. Ladies don't pass wind.) I'm talking about painful, heavy, PMS-ridden periods. Hayfever, itchy eyes, blocked noses every night that cause poor sleep and the need for decongestants, regular bleeding gums, greying teeth, thrush, general lethargy, weird patches on my skin. Just so you know, I am now sitting her with tears in my eyes, because I have never actually thought out loud about all of those symptoms together at the same time. That list is INCREDIBILE, and incredibly, through a change in diet, it is a list that is now almost empty.
I still get a bloated stomach every now and then (but this is as opposed to a permanently bloated stomach). My glands will still go up for no reason.
I thought there was something else on the list, but it's gone now.
I used to go to the chiropractor every 2 weeks. I haven't been in over 8 months.
I spent $150 a month on our family's general over the counter medications, like ibuprofen and paracetamol, antihistamines, cold and flu pills, etc.
We haven't spent more than $10 a month in over a year.
That's a ridiculous savings! Spend that on organic food instead!
Eating a cleaner, more organic diet is more expensive, but think of all the extra therapies you won't need! And think of this too: did you know that in 1900 AD, the average American household spent 43% of their salary on food. Did you know that in the year 2003 AD, the average American household spent 17% of their salary on food.
In the past, we really understood the VALUE of good quality food, whereas these days, we have so bought into the 'convenience' message, that we spend a pittance on fake, chemical-laden food that makes us SICK. 'Convenience' food, aka processed food, only exists to make money for a company. Real food cannot be invented, so it makes money for the farmers. As another smartass on facebook said: "If we paid our farmers to keep us healthy, we wouldn't need to pay our doctors to."
Or something to that effect...
And one more because I am on a roll: "We are the smartest animal on earth because we are able to make our own food, but we are the stupidest animal on earth because we actually eat it."
The ONLY reason we eat it, is because we believe that convenience makes it worth our while, and THAT is because we have been successfully marketed to.
I will tell you what is inconvenient, and it is not the cost or the cooking of real food. It is ending up in the ER when I accidentally kissed my son after eating walnuts. It is the 7 different types of medication I had to administer every day. It was the trips to the various specialists who were trying to help him to survive without being able to eat, because food made him so violently ill. It was inconvenient to suffer from depression and lethargy that made me cry because I was too tired and sad to tie up my own shoelaces. It was inconvenient to then have to admit that my perfect daughter was showing signs of food intolerances and worse, was having such serious issues with concentration that I knew it would lead to a diagnosis of ADHD. It was inconvenient having to prepare 4 separate meals for my family, because my husband was breaking out in hives on such a regular basis, and my son couldn't actually eat any food other than rice and corn and white sugar.
THAT was inconvenient.
Dietary change can fundamentally alter your life, and it lets so much joy back into the family home.
We eat nourishing dinners together now, every single night. The first time we ever did this as a family was after 2 weeks on GAPS (my kids were 5 and 3), and I may or may not have cried about it. We've had so many firsts since then, just 2 nights ago my son had his first ever stir-fry, and his eyes lit up at the flavour sensation!
We chose the GAPS diet after lots of research, but there are others too: Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) are 2 examples of other healing options, although in my experience, GAPS more than covers both of those.
Do yourself a favour, give yourself a gift: research the root cause of your health issues, and make the changes yourself, let's reverse the market for pills and workarounds, and let's get rid of the root cause of our problems, and BE THE CURE. Because it is not working the way things are.