...............a reflection of our health care dilemma


Carl Hendel, MD 12/99

We have come to a place in time and history where our professional health care providers are forced to play a game. In order for people to receive important and life-changing care, round pegs are being forced into square holes. I call this Diseasification. And forcing anything has undesirable side-effects.

In order to understand diseasification, we must first examine 2 words. One is "disease," and most believe that they understand the meaning of that word. Yet, it seems that history has created a circumstance in which the essential meaning of the word has become distorted to something that fits into a contrived system of "health care." I suggest we make a second word, an ugly word, to contrast with "disease," such as "dizeez".

Disease is "dis-ease," (without ease) and is uncomfortable. It is very important. It can be a sign of dizeez, but often, this is not the case.

Dizeez is the occurrence (metaphorically) of a poisoning that requires an antidote. The treatment for dizeez is usually drugs and surgery. We need a system to manage dizeez. We also need a system that is in support of life itself, one that addresses dis-ease as well.

Our health care system has created square holes by insisting that only people with dizeez get treatment. Yet we are more than a bag of complex chemicals, we are body and mind, substance and function, energy and matter. The well-being of one is deeply and powerfully interrelated with the other.

Not all pain is poisonous. Some pain has the effect of getting our attention, and opening up the possibility for change and "ease." This is the realm of Mind-body medicine. Many physical illnesses (dizeezes) carry a high potential for "dis-ease." This is often deep and true pain. The "Patient's Bill of Rights" affirms that all pain is real and that it hurts. A diagnosis of cancer, for example, contains tremendous pain, on all levels.

Dis-ease is not dizeez. It is not something to be numbed, ignored, or rejected. It is often a wake-up call, a time to gather inner resources, a time to move on with life and healing. There is nothing wrong with the round peg. Feeling the pain of loss and grief, the pain of chronic suffering is normal and healthy, and often needs professional support. We are treating human beings, not protoplasmic computers.

An example of current nomenclature that is required by our insurance system for many of life's deepest crises is "Adjustment Disorder." A professional health care provider recognizes that, in reality he/she is treating an important "Adjustment of Life", but, he/she won't get paid, or the person with pain has to pay out-of-pocket, often an incredible hardship for people with chronic or complex diagnoses, for care. In order to be supported, the person has to agree that something is wrong with them, rather than something is right with them that needs attention. This is completely inappropriate.

Wouldn't it be better to address this issue openly, stopping the game of round pegs and square holes, the game of Diseasification? The issue, again, as always, is money. So, we need to start with the most significant problems first. What if there was a law that provided for patients with life-threatening illnesses the opportunity to receive 12 sessions in Mind-body medicine! Moving through the challenges and even influencing its course, brings healing at many levels of the human experience. Why not? Isn't that something you will appreciate when your day to face that challenge comes. Aren't help and pain relief the reason you are willing to pay your insurance premiums?

Life is about growth and change, for each of us, and for our collective "body", our society. Changing the way we understand and approach pain and suffering, and our willingness to honor and accept dis-ease supports our basic citizen rights. This change would bring us into a more honorable and human reality as we step across the timeline into another millennium. Let's step with integrity and love.

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