Culture of Pills

As my regular readers know, my mom is currently in a rehab facility following a short hospital stay. Today, while visiting her, I was delighted to see that she was dressed and sitting up in a wheelchair when I got there. That was a first for this past week.

But it quickly became evident that the wheelchair was hurting her in the behind because there was no cushion for the seat. They make cushions for wheelchairs, but this one that was used in the rehab facility did not seem to have one. I went out and told the nurse that my mom was in pain from not having a cushion on her wheelchair.

Immediately, the nurse said that she would give my mom a pain pill. I said that wasn't the problem; the problem was that the wheelchair needed a cushion. She went into my mom's room and asked my mom if she was in pain. My mom said that the wheelchair was causing her pain. The nurse said she would get my mom a pain pill. My mom told the nurse the same thing that I said. She did not want a pain pill. She wanted a cushion for the wheel chair.

After the nurse left, my mom commented on how the solution to everything around there was a pain pill. And that seemed to be true. I heard the nurse in the next room telling a patient that she was going to give her a pain pill before any pain started. She wanted to stay ahead of it.

These days, there's a pill for everything. Have high blood pressure? Take a pill. Cholesterol too high? Take a pill. Can't get it up? Here's a little pill for that. Up too long? Here's a pill to help you sleep. As one of my friends, who happens to be a medical doctor, likes to say, "Better living through chemistry."

The problem is, it's not better living. With every pill comes a list of side effects as long as your arms. In fact, I actually believe that prescription medicines may have played a major part in my wife's brain cancer. She had three different prescriptions that she was taking, each one being a pill that affected the chemistry of the brain. Wouldn't it seem logical that if you got brain cancer after long-term usage of brain-altering chemicals that maybe the pills had something to do with it? And no, she wasn't on LSD.

The problem with this culture of pills is that pills don't address the problem. In my line of work, we were always looking for the root cause of problems that were identified. No corrective action was ever taken without understanding what the root cause was. But pills don't do that. They don't address the root cause. Pills address symptoms only.

A good example of that was the offering of a pain pill to my mother when the real cause of her pain was lack of a cushion in the wheelchair. If she had taken the pill instead of getting the cushion, then tomorrow, she would again have the same problem. And tomorrow she would need another pain pill. Given the problems that exist in this country with people becoming hooked on pain pills, that doesn't strike me as a particularly smart way to go.

The smart way to address medical issues is through prevention. But what is prevention? It's not what we're necessarily taught to believe. I would never stop someone from getting a colonoscopy, but it's worth recognizing that a colonoscopy is not prevention. It's merely detection and removal of polyps that have already formed. That can be a good thing if you already have polyps that have formed that are cancerous. So, definitely get your colonoscopy.

But recognize that if you want to actually prevent things like colon cancer, then you need to do the things that help to prevent it. And that leads me to the whole foods, plant-based diet. That's prevention in my opinion. Medicine and pills, on the other hand, I do not consider to be prevention. They are corrective. And correcting the symptoms is not the same thing as correcting the problem.