Right now, you know several action steps you could take to become healthier, happier, and to live longer. Do you need some motivation to get started, or maybe follow through on a plan to get healthier? Then visit a hospital emergency room. Recently, I had a family member require the services of a hospital emergency facility. The story had a positive conclusion and me and my family are grateful for the care received.
There we were, standing anxiously awaiting the opportunity to have our loved one admitted and seen by a medical professional. An environment filled with ambient sounds of human suffering filled our auditory tracks. Moaning, deep hacking coughs, writhing screams, all signaling despair for relief. Dispensers of antibacterial soap easily accessible on every wall. I could feel the microorganisms in the air and washing my hands did not seem like adequate enough protection.
We wanted to leave, but also knew we needed to see this through. Most of the other patients were elderly, and portrayed obvious signs of ill health. My guess was their health emergency being related to a chronic illness of some sort. No bullet wounds or auto accident victims that I could see. This was a Knoxville, TN hospital. I can only imagine the scene on a Saturday night in the Ben Taub ER. One thing was very clear. I do not want to ever need the services of a hospital. I’m sure you agree with me.
More specifically, I want to completely avoid the need to ever rely on our medical healthcare system. I realize an acute health crises can happen seemingly out of our control. So it does not make much sense to worry about what may or may not happen. But avoidance of chronic disease is something we can influence.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 90% of the nation’s 3.3 trillion in annual health care expenditures are for people with chronic and mental health conditions. This tells me people are not doing enough to build their health. They need a dose of reality, not another dose of medicine.
Fortunately, I have always been internally motivated to pursue better health. Getting sick has not been a prerequisite to inspire me to stay healthy. A big part of that reason I’m sure, is due to my father’s influence. A previous article details some of those elements. But my recent hospital experience did reinvigorate that desire. It reminds me of another time when I received a shot in the arm of promote my health motivation. My time in the anatomy lab at Texas Chiropractic College.
Her name was Ann Montgomery, and she died at eighty five years of age due to heart failure. I remember retrieving her frozen body from the deep freeze and placing her in the cadaver cart. She had a toe tag in the shape of a silver quarter with a stamped number for identification. We were issued a black plastic body bag and every piece of her body was to be placed into this bag and sealed with her toe tag. Over the next year, four other interns and myself had the opportunity to completely dismantle every aspect of her body.
In the beginning we all had reservations about mutilating a dead body. But surprisingly, within a week, the resistance had greatly diminished. We started by stripping away her skin to expose the fascial tissue that covered her muscles. We then carefully cut through her connective tissue to expose and identify every nerve innervation, vein, and arterial blood supply for each major muscle.
Our next semester took us deep into her chest cavity to access her lungs and heart. I remember squeezing one of her arteries and feeling a crunchy crackly sensation. Arterial plaque being one aspect of her cardiovascular disease. In a different group, they had a cadaver that died from lung cancer, they referred to him as Tom. We could see black charcoal deposits in the alveoli of Tom’s lungs. He was a smoker.
Did you know they have a special type of jig saw to cut through the skull cap? Except the blade is triangular shaped and cuts just deep enough to penetrate the bone while leaving the gray matter intact. I had never smelt burning bone before and have never smelt it since. I don’t want to.
I may sound cavalier while recounting my time spent in the anatomy lab... but I am not. Firstly, I am thankful for Ann’s wiliness to provide her body to a bunch of college students she would never know. I don’t plan to donate my body to science.
Also, seeing the inside of a human body opened my eyes to something so incredible. Our anatomy and physiology is such a marvel beyond belief. I also felt sorry for Ann’s body and Tom’s, and several of the others for the obvious years of chronic abuse their body’s had endured. I realize these individuals did it to themselves with their lifestyle choices. I could see how their body’s innate intelligence did it’s best to adapt and survive. No judgment on the part of the body, just diligently using every resource to maintain homeostasis in a toxic environment.
I submit to you, that if we had a way to know the damage we do to our health...in real time... our choices would automatically improve. Our body quietly endures, adapts, redirects impulses and resources to do the best it can with what it is given. It marches on in spite of the horrible ways we treat it and only complains when it has run out of options. And it is not really complaining, but rather just asking the owner to pay attention and to consider making some lifestyle changes.
And what happens next? Our mind gets mad at our body for getting sick and tells it to shut up by using pills, potions, and lotions to suppress the expression. Then we marvel at how great modern medicine is and how it can over power the intelligence of the body. That’s unhealthy behavior.
Visit a hospital ER, or bribe your way into a college anatomy lab and get motivated to build health. Then visit me and we will take steps to avoid being in the 90 percentile.