God Helps Those Who Help Themselves

You absolutely must be the primary sentinel of your own health. To be effective in that capacity, you have to be in touch with your body and deduce what is good or bad for it. Today’s given wisdom is often tomorrow’s discredited procedure and may even be hazardous to your health.

“You have to be responsible for yourself.” Paula Deen, Food Network host

The Hidden Hand of the Marketplace will cure all that ails you.  So say the Voodoo economists who tout that wondrous elixir – market-based healthcare – packaged, of late, as health-insurance ‘vouchers’.  In other words, my fellow Americans, you’re on your own.

The metastasizing American health care system is now devouring close to one-fifth of our economy.  That is nearly double other First World countries.   Our system delivers shorter lifespans than Third World Communist Cuba.  It is a budgetary hot potato that everyone is tossing to the other guy as it engorges to giant pumpkin proportions.  

Seemingly well-intentioned, Obamacare got the cart before the horse by first seeking to extend this bloated, underperforming system to the tens of uninsured millions.  What would have happened if they set about shaping up the system first then shipping out savings to cover those exposed?  

Murmurs of cost containment drew shrill, special-interest shills crying “Death Panels!”  Fingers wagged at government interference and social engineering.  Mess with tort reform and the Hidden Hand will witch-slap you upside the face.  Bulk purchase drugs to drive down prices and the Hidden Fist will cold-cock you. 

Keep ducking, fellow Americans, God helps those who help themselves.

Back in my halcyon days living close to the bone, I had a choice to make: health insurance or health club membership?  I figured an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and health club clientele look a lot better than patients at health clinics.  Fortunately the only tangible threats to my health during this period were the two hits I took from cabs as I bicycled around Manhattan.

Long-time neighbor Dr. Lyman Fussell passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 107.   Even into triple digits and functionally blind, he would motor around like the Eveready Rabbit.  He remained sharp as a tack, summoning up memories from nearly a century ago.  There was the time, studying at Physicians & Surgeons, he witnessed Columbia college sophomore and future Pride of the Yankees, Lou Gehrig, hammer a baseball out of the campus quadrangle on to 116th Street and Broadway.   

“To what do you attribute your longevity?” I asked Dr. Fussell.

“I stay away from doctors,” answered Dr. Fussell.  

Easy for the good doctor to say, some will argue.  He had the luck of the gene draw, right?  Fellow Columbia Lion, Lou Gehrig, wasn’t so lucky.  The Iron Horse, who went on to play 2,130 consecutive games for the Yankees, died of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) just shy of his 38th birthday.  Dr. Fussell’s son, who also became a Dr. Fussell, did not inherit the longevity gene, succumbing to leukemia at sixty.

As traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has it, doctors only get paid when you’re well, not when you’re sick.  My experience with a principle TCM procedure is mixed.  A couple of years after my father’s major stroke, he would travel to Paris during summers for treatment by a Chinese acupuncturist.  Upon his return, impaired speech noticeably improved for a period.  Whether it was the acupuncture, good times with all things French, or the respite from his wife, Heddy the Hun, remains subject to speculation.

My one-time acupuncture treatment only exacerbated the debilitating pain emanating, as later revealed, from soft tissue catching on the splintered head of my femur.  A couple of months of prescribed physical therapy exacerbated even more.  It took an MRI to reveal a necrotic lesion the size of a golf ball on the ball of my hip.  How were such conclusions reached before MRIs, I asked the great doctor treating me?  Had to operate, he responded.  If a hip specialist is unable to pony up an educated guess based on a graphic description of symptoms, it’s time for a different orthopedist.  

You absolutely must be the primary sentinel of your own health.  To be effective in that capacity, you have to be in touch with your body and deduce what is good or bad for it.  Today’s given wisdom is often tomorrow’s discredited procedure and may even be hazardous to your health. 

When margarine was introduced forty years ago as the ‘healthy, low-fat’ alternative to butter, one look told me otherwise.  No way the human body could thoroughly digest and purge a tub of melted yellow plastic, the feel of WD-40.  Margarine was the gateway processed transfat that teamed with high-fructose corn syrup to super-size two-thirds of America.  Photos of Americans from the ‘50s and ‘60s show virtually none of the wide-loads of today.  These body-types aren’t anyone’s destiny.   They are Exhibits A-Z that the body burns whole foods and stores junk food.  Calories are not created equal.

Junk thought contends that children will only eat deep-fried industrial products offered on ‘children’s menus’.  Wrong.  Kids have been conditioned to ‘like’ the crap they’re fed.  My 15yrs-old twins, who have been conditioned otherwise, inhale well-prepared, balanced banquets daily.  They have only gone to a McDonald’s to use the bathroom and thought the restaurant odor gross.   Remember, parents, when you set your kids on a collision course with type-2 diabetes, very few will grow up to parlay their condition into shilling for diabetes injections like Paula Deen, Queen of the Fryolator.

Americans believe they can shovel toxins down their throats with one hand and neutralize by popping pills with the other.  ‘Eat the foods you love,’ then douse the heartburn, antacids advertise.  Maybe heartburn is your body’s way of telling you those foods don’t agree with it.  Listen to your body.  And let your immune system go on maneuvers against most bacteria so to it is prepared to take on the really big threats to health.  The ‘Hygiene Hypothesis’  squared my long-held premise that excessive use of antibacterial has been, paradoxically, a culprit in epidemic rates of asthma and allergies.

God bless the child that’s got good sense (and habits) to “stay away from doctors,” as 107yrs-old Dr. Fussell prescribed.