A few weeks back I lamented EXCUSE ME FOR LIVING about the complexities of navigating the health care system as a senior citizen. Much of it was written tongue-in-cheek; however, the discouraging reality of Medicare is that 1) many doctors are too busy keeping up with government paperwork to read the latest research articles concerning nutrition and alternative care, and 2) they are held to unforgiving guidelines by insurance companies and the feds. Quite often the last person to whom we should talk about healthy diet and non-pharmaceutical treatments is our M.D. They are locked into a health care system which advocates the old-age trinity of drugs – Lopressor, Lipitor, and Metformin to address issues that are often the results of lifestyle choices and can be changed by lifestyle choices.
But, ultimately, it is our choice. Most of us, especially the septuagenarians amongst us, have learned our bodies intimately over the years and we know good health versus pharmaceutically sustained health. They are not synonymous and, as I stated in a previous post, merely having a pulse and a brain wave is not the goal of living a long life.
I often use my mother as an example. She had a few of the usual older age health issues including type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Medications were prescribed which in short time produced side effects. More medications were prescribed for the side effects. When Mom died she was taking 15 different prescriptions, her health quality was abysmal, and she certainly did not enjoy her “golden years”. Mom was not a fighter. She was taught as a young girl to trust her doctor as a god and to adhere to whatever treatment he prescribed.
I am a fighter and a rebel. I believe there are many other men and women who find themselves in the same situation which I am in. I strive to be more than just data and statistics in some insurance company’s actuarial department, more than just a nameless body who floats into the doctor’s office for scheduled maintenance.
Sometimes the mind awakens in the morning saying, “Giddyap”, but the body says, “Whoa boy, slow down.” Those mornings are difficult and it’s all relative to what I remember as good health when my body and mind were young and frisky. Accepting the limitations of aging is not a surrender, but rather a compromise. “Okay, old age, I cannot do a marathon anymore but sure as hell I can still walk a few miles.” Like many things in life, I want my senior years to be about quality, not quantity.
This is the journey on which I want to take GABBY’S PLACE. I have recently taken a personal health assessment after years of traditional medical care for the few health issues which plague me today and my inventory is disturbing. Increasing pharmaceutical usage is not the route I want to take. A recent blood profile was seen by my medical doctor as dangerously out of line with government guidelines and subsequently viewed by an experienced nutritionist as nearly perfect. “Just a few tweaks,” she said.
I am not a doctor nor a health professional, but I do have an unsettling attitude about what our health care system has done to the people who trust it much as my mother did. What I write in the future on GABBY’S are just the ramblings of an old man disgusted with the results of a health care system which cost a fortune when I was a working man and equally miffed about Medicare, the system for which I paid with each payroll deduction forcibly taken from my paycheck over a lifetime of working.