If you’re a patient who has incorporated complementary and alternative medicine into your health care regimen, you may have bumped up against some resistance on both sides of the healing fence. Your doctor may think your homeopath is a total quack selling snake oil, and your homeopath may think your doctor is a big thug, thwacking his pharmaceutical hammer at anything that moves.
Your doctor may insist that you stop all of your herbs, cancel your acupuncture appointment, and ditch the flower essences that were lovingly prepared for you.
On the flip side, your complementary and alternative medicine providers may poo poo traditional Western treatments that you choose to pursue.
In fact, I knew a brother and sister – he was a gastroenterologist MD and she was a naturopathic doctor. Both went to medical school for four years to learn their craft, and both specialized in gastrointestinal disorders. And yet, they couldn’t discuss medicine without knock-down, drag out, screaming hissy fit fights. He thought she was delusional. She thought he was a closed-minded snob who was merely frightened of what he didn’t understand.
It made Thanksgivings very awkward.
The God Complex
I believe that much of this awkwardness between various types of health care professionals stems from wounds we’ve suffered at each other’s hands. Many doctors lord themselves over other health care providers as if they’re the gods and everyone else should bow at their golden feet, (which is why I offered this global apology to nurses, techs, and complementary and alternative health care providers here).
In fact, when I was invited by a group of acupuncturists, therapists, massage therapists, and nutritionists to come join their integrative medicine practice, they confessed that they had never invited a physician before because they didn’t want someone getting all God-Complex on them, treating them as underlings down the totem pole. They said they knew I wasn’t one of those physicians, and they invited me to come be an equal partner at the healing round table, where all health care providers were on equal footing, not only with each other, but with the patient. I was genuinely touched and honored. It was exactly in line with my own philosophy of how health care should be delivered, as I spelled out here.
And it’s not just doctor-patient relationships or doctor-alternative health care provider relationships that are suffering.
I once heard a respected physician (albeit a tired one) say to a brilliant nurse, “Let’s play a little game. I’ll play doctor. You play nurse. I’ll give the orders, and you FOLLOW THEM.”
What is happening to us?
These kinds of stories trouble me deeply, because they speak to a much greater dysfunction within our broken, outdated patriarchal system of The Old Medicine. This dictatorial, condescending, hierarchical mindset more closely resembles the way our military is structured than the way I believe healing systems should operate. And while doctors in the trenches may feel they are at war against disease, replicating war-like methods of communication within hospitals and patient exam rooms serves no one and doesn’t lend itself to healing.
When you practice love, with a little medicine on the side (as I described here), there’s no place for war.
Yet, as health care practitioners, many of us have been hurt within the health care system. Like abused children who go on to become abusers, we are tempted to perpetuate the cycle. And in the face of numerous stressors, we often fail to heal the wounds that have been inflicted upon us. When we suppress, rather than heal, these wounds, we lash out. We hurt others. And in the process, we dim our lights and reduce our healing superpowers.
Patients, nurses, alternative health providers, hospital workers, and doctors have all been severely wounded by the current health care system. We feel battle-scarred and disoriented, traumatized and diminished. We’ve been criticized, ostracized, demoralized, and trivialized. We feel overworked, underpaid, unappreciated, and attacked. Those of us who have recognized the power we have to heal ourselves may have been flicked off like annoying little bugs.
It’s no wonder we feel hurt. (This is why I apologized to all the wounded doctors out there and all the patients and other health care providers.)
Instead of having our healing gifts cherished and nurtured by the system, they have been bashed and bruised, chopped off and belittled. It’s easy to forget why we were called to practice our healing arts to begin with. We might feel so wounded that we choose to throw in the towel and escape a system that just hurts too much. But as tempting as it is to bail from our callings, because the current health care system is so broken, the world needs us now more than ever.
Now is the time to rise up. As heart-centered patients and practitioners, we must lead the way. We are the future of health care. But we can’t change the future until we join hands in the present.
Healing Old Wounds
In order to serve out our missions as healers, we need to first heal ourselves and then band together with others – healers and patients alike. Together, we would become a formidable force others couldn’t ignore. Our voice would be heard across the world, as we stand for what is right and true and necessary.
Until doctors, patients, and all the others at the healing round table accept this lack of hierarchy, we will never optimize health care delivery the way I envision in Pink Medicine. As the patient, you may feel uncomfortably stuck in the middle, uncertain how to proceed.
Whether you’re a patient or a practitioner, in order to make a difference in the future of health care, we must start by healing the past. So let’s make an effort to forgive how we’ve been wronged and release the hurts we’ve experienced.
Let’s write down every grievance we have, get pissed, rant, cry, scream, and stomp our feet until we let it all out. If you want, share your stories, rants, and nightmares in this Healing Your Health Care Wounds group I’ve created in the Owning Pink Community, I’ll bear witness to what you’ve experienced – along with others – so you can feel heard.
Then together, we can have a release ceremony. We can burn our grievances, throw the ashes into the ocean, tear our sadness and anger into shreds and bury the shards beneath the earth. Do whatever you need to do to let go.
In order to manifest big change in the world, we need to move past our anger and lead with love. Once we have navigated our way through the anger, and released our charge on the subject, we can move forward into forgiveness. We can open our hearts and invite in compassion for those who have hurt us.
Only then can we really make a global difference in how health care is delivered.
The Healing Round Table
There are hundreds of thousands – millions even – of patients and health care providers who long to bring love back to medicine. We are a quiet but increasingly vocal and powerful force. As empowered patients, healers and light workers, we are infinitely powerful, and yet, because the current health care system has discredited or trampled upon many of us, we may not recognize the power we have. Instead of uniting together to enhance our collective power, some of us have fragmented, splitting into unnecessarily opposing factions, competing rather than collaborating, turning against each other, when we are allies.
We are all equal players at the healing round table. There is no hierarchy. No doctor at the top of the pyramid, no technician at the bottom, no patient excluded, the way some systems might lead you to believe. No – we are all in this together, and we need you to hop on board and help us change the system.
Will You Take Your Seat At The Healing Round Table?
This is a call to action. As the patient, you get the seat of honor. As a healer, you are on equal footing with all other healers. There are no pedestals, no hierarchy, no egoic complexes. Just remarkable people gathered together with the intention of healing.
Are you one of those people? Do you know one?
I invite you to share this post with them. And make sure you become a Pink Medicine Revolutionary so you can be part of this growing tribe of special people dedicated to helping me change the world.
Pull up a seat, love. Settle in. There’s healing to be done here.
What if I told you caring for your body was the LEAST important part of your health? Watch my TEDx talk here to learn the MOST important part. If you’re ready to write the prescription for yourself click here to learn more about the free training I offer.
Pulling my own chair up to the table,
Lissa Rankin, MD