I once saw a comic that depicted a goldfish, a monkey, a penguin, an elephant, a seal, a bird, and a dog all standing in front of a desk. The man behind the desk was providing an exam for the animals. The test: everyone had to climb the tree behind them. The comic speaks to the absurdity of the educational system in that it treats all individuals the same, when clearly we are different, have different characteristics, different capabilities, different stories, different traits.
I see the similarity between the educational system and the conventional health care model where treating an individual’s illness becomes an algorithm. For X disease, treat with X medication or therapy. This can be a very effective and necessary treatment model at times. If stung by a bee and anaphylaxis occurs, inject epinephrine and save the person’s life. When a life threatening infection occurs, treat with antibiotics. If you fracture a bone, have it set in a cast. Yes! We need this!
However, like the educational system, there are areas of healthcare where placing everyone in the same algorithm is not so beneficial for the individual. Although, I do see an awareness slowly building in the conventional health care system to create individualized health care plans, especially in treating things such as cancer — and I hope it takes off! Lets treat people as they are —unique! This is one of the qualities about natural health that initially drew me to it as a client and now as a practitioner.
As a client, when I came to a naturopath, I noticed I was treated with a pause, then a great questioning of who I was, what I did, what I ate, what I encountered on a daily basis, how were my varying bodily functions functioning? How did I feel, how were my relationships, how was my work, what is my level of vitality or constitution, what traumas have I experienced? The naturopath took me into consideration. Me as a whole. Each factor, component and part of me is my whole and effects my dis-ease.
As a practitioner I am learning, to avoid putting people into a box or algorithm. This is challenging for me as I have come from a conventional medicine background where this occurs often. For example, if it is constipation then give X, Y, or Z medication. However, as I have learned in naturopathy school, something so simple as constipation has to be treated with great consideration. First, a pause, then a great questioning. Why? What is the root cause? Is this a dietary problem? A lifestyle problem? Is this person holding on to something emotionally they don’t want to let go of? Is there a toxin present? What is their level of vitality or constitution? Then the healing plans can begin.
When placed in an algorithm true healing can be challenging. When treated as a unique individual healing comes with ease . The beauty for me as a practitioner is that I get to appreciate the individuality of each person, seeing each one as unique, even in their expression of dise-ease.
Author: Rebecca deVries is a registered nurse and student at the Naturopathic Institute. She currently interns at Continuum Healing.