I didn’t realise until my husband was diagnosed with cancer how strongly my beliefs and opinions sat on the alternative side of the health care system, almost rigidly so.
As my husbands diagnosis was unravelled and a treatment plan to save his life (and I’m not being dramatic here) was pieced together, I found myself wondering why I’d swung so strongly and so defensively to the alternative health side.
I guess I could look back to my sickly childhood, the heavy medication I was given and the constant doctor visits. My symptoms were relieved for sure, but I was always back there again in a month or two, lining up for more medication. And then there was the fact that my mother was a nurse who thought the answer to every ailment laid in Western medicine. And then I became a midwife myself, entering the hospital system at a time when intervention in birth was rife.
I suppose it isn’t a surprise that I started searching for another option. The alternative health care system gave me answers that had, up until that point, eluded me. It didn’t solve all of my health problems but it alleviated some of the most annoying ones.
Somehow though, along the way, I decided that we – as in everybody who was on the alternative health side, were right, and everybody else – all those who worked in hospitals and the medical field, were wrong. It wasn’t a conscious decision but definitely a decision that had been made.
The funny thing is when Pete collapsed into my arms I didn’t think maybe I better do some energy healing on him, or a craniosacral session, or maybe I better call our acupuncturist or chiropractor. The first and only thought that came to me was what’s the fastest possible way I can get him to hospital?
When Pete started chemotherapy the nurses in the day stay unit were nothing short of angelic. They were kind and caring and so understanding. There were no evil grins as they hooked up Pete’s pic line to the chemotherapy; they didn’t think for one minute that they were poisoning him. They thought simply that they were offering him the best possible chance of life going forward. They weren’t working in the unit because they were ignorant or malicious, they were working there because they were some of the most compassionate and dedicated people I have ever had the privilege to meet. The doctor who looked after Pete, who instructed the poison be pumped into Pete’s veins, took his job so seriously that he could quote us the statistics on any study done in the past ten years. He was so kind and so caring that when I rang him one day and burst into tears he didn’t hurry or hush me but instead waited patiently and explained everything to me as many times as I needed to hear it. I mean really, it’s ludicrous to think that anything but kind and caring people could be attracted to this profession.
As we moved into the monotonous draining routine of Pete’s treatment and the crisis of his diagnosis started to fade behind us, it became obvious how much he could benefit from the alternative health care system. We had an appointment with a naturopath who was able to support his immune system and importantly his gut. He got endless craniosacral and energy sessions off me, helping to keep his back in alignment and his stress levels as low as possible. Another friend came with hot packs, oils and structural alignment techniques to encourage the healing of Pete’s crushed vocal cord nerve.
During the period of Pete’s treatment it became obvious to me that there was no right or wrong when it came to health care. Sometimes the alternative health care system has the answer, sometimes the western medical system; and sometimes it’s a perfect combination of the two. The most important thing though is respect from both sides of the spectrum; allowing every case to be treated independently and the person who needs help to get the best possible care without any prejudice or bias coming into the decision. Then and only then will we be able to say that we have a healthy, happy, well-rounded health care system without the need to choose sides.