I’ve been on this journey towards better health for almost four years now. When my son died in the middle of the night “for no reason” after receiving his 4 month vaccines, it opened the door for me to really explore my thoughts about the healthcare system– about the successes, the failures, the struggles, the blessings, and most of all… the unanswered questions. Like, “why does the US rank so far below other countries regarding our health?” especially when we have “the best healthcare that money can buy.”
At one point, Bryce and I spent 35% of our monthly budget on our health insurance premium. Self-employment doesn’t afford the luxury of affordable health insurance, and so we spent an obscene amount of money just on the PREMIUM of our insurance policy, not to mention the cost of co-pays, prescriptions and uncovered expenses. We, like most Americans, believed that Doctors knew best, that medicine was life-saving, and that we couldn’t take care of our own bodies because “we weren’t qualified.”
What I’ve learned over the last few years is that we are more than qualified to research, question, and explore the topic of health if we feel like we should. I’ve also learned that many Primary Care Physicians are working a job they didn’t even understand when they went to medical school, a job where prescriptions are better accepted than simple diet/exercise advise, and where one drug causes a side effect that somersaults into another drug being prescribed. Over and over and over.
When I was a kid, I never had an antibiotic. I can vividly remember the first time I ever had one when I was in High School. My parents weren’t “anti-medicine”, they just didn’t run me to the doctor for every ache and pain. And my mom was always a firm believer that most symptoms were working to resolve a problem in the body. (She’s the one who taught me that fevers shouldn’t be reduced by default just because we notice a child feels warm, because fever is the response to infection that indicates the body is doing it’s job.)
Today kids get an antibiotic for pretty much every ailment. I see it all the time with my friends kids. They take the kid in for a sick visit and are told it’s viral, but are also given an antibiotic. It’s the biggest oxymoron… but it still happens a LOT. We also feel the need to treat every health issue with medication. Allergies? Medicine. Side effect from allergy medicine? Medicine. Trouble concentrating? Medicine. That medicine keep you up all night? Medicine. And the cycle continues on and on and on.
I am a BELIEVER in modern medicine. I believe in it for acute conditions which require short-term treatment. I do not believe in daily medication for the rest of your life. I do not believe that the best answer to someone with high cholesterol is to go on a statin. 1 in 3 adults over the age of 40 in the US is on a statin drug. It’s prescribed to people with high cholesterol, to people with heart disease, to people with history of stroke, etc.
Patients are told that this is the best way to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. But do you know what I think this has done?
It’s taken the consequence away from people who refuse to take care of their bodies. Before you jump all over me telling me stories about your loved ones who didn’t bring health conditions on themselves, let me just say that I know that is a harsh statement. It IS a harsh statement. But it’s the truth.
If people knew they didn’t have prescriptions available to save their lives from their poor diet and sedentary lifestyle, do you think they might be more inclined to exercise more and make better food choices? Because honestly… That would be one HECK of a motivator for me.
And statins are just the start.
It’s estimated that 70% of Americans take at least ONE medication daily. Can you think of anyone in your life that DOESN’T take a prescription medication daily? (This includes birth control, SSRI’s, anxiety medication, allergy medication, asthma medications, etc, etc, etc).
In 2011, there were 4.02 billion prescriptions written in the United States. The population of the United States in 2011 was 311 million– that’s about 13 prescriptions for every single living human being in the United States per year.
In 2008, Americans spent $234 billion dollars on prescription drugs.
In 2012, Americans spent $325.7 billion dollars on prescription drugs. That’s over $90 billion more dollars spent on prescriptions in FOUR YEARS.
You know one major change that happened between 2008 and 2012?
In 2010 the Flu Vaccination Guidelines changes from vaccinating only the at-risk populations and their caretakers, to universal vaccinations (which meant everyone over the age of 6 months old.) This “preventative” health care measure of vaccinating everyone was supposed to make everyone healthier, bring healthcare spending down, and prevent illness which could lead to long-term health problems… and yet we saw our healthcare costs SKYROCKET.
Prescriptions are big money. And I don’t think they are saving very many lives.
In 2009, there were nearly 4.6 million drug-related visits to U.S. emergency rooms nationwide, with more than half due to adverse reactions to prescription medications – most of which were being taken exactly as prescribed. 450,000 deaths each year are caused by prescription medications. That would make it the 4th leading cause of death in the US. And there are actually TEN TIMES more deaths caused by PROPERLY prescribed prescription medications that are used correctly than there are deaths caused by ILLEGAL drugs. (106,000 : 10,000)
Each prescription drug has an average of 70 listed side effects…
Prescription medications just aren’t our answer to health problems. I think Hippocrates put it best when he said simply, “Let food be thy medicine.”
I think Doctors gave up recommending dietary changes and more exercise because Americans were so obsessed with finding an “easy button”. Why do all this work when there are millions of prescriptions available to “treat” these conditions by just swallowing a pill?
The problem is that we aren’t seeing quality of life in people anymore.
We are hiding symptoms, instead of healing illness.
We are seeing Americans being the fattest, sickest, most depressed, most stressed out, most exhausted generation than we’ve EVER seen before with the MOST chronic health conditions being treated by prescription medications.
Which brings me to the point where I can’t help but wonder… Are the drugs REALLY life-saving? And- If people aren’t willing to take care of their bodies, work to stay healthy, make the effort of exercising and eating REAL food instead of the processed, toxic “food” of today…. How can anyone believe that the pharmaceutical companies exist merely because they are trying to save lives of deserving Americans everywhere?
Don’t you think that Big Pharma just knows that we as Americans are way too lazy to just take the few simple steps required to maintaining our help? That we believe that their products are the simple solution to our health problems? (Which could honestly be solved by nutrition in most cases.)
So the more medications they create, the more we will take; the more that we take, the more that we will require; the more we require, the more we think everyone else does too, including our children… and the more customers they will have for life.