Have you ever received a gift you didn’t initially want or one which made you think, “I don’t know what to do with this?”
Life had been just fine before it came along, right?
But once we unwrap those strange gifts we pry open our thoughts to new possibilities. That’s what happened to me with my first bike, microwave, computer, laptop, blackberry, iPhone, and iPad. Often that new item can require a steep learning curve. Yet, remarkably, it soon becomes indispensable!
Should we open it, and open ourselves to new possibilities?
Dr. James Gordon and Deepak Chopra think so. In an online video they note that “we’re the ones who know for the most part what’s best for us”.
They add that having the opportunity to take care of ourselves is a “revolutionary idea” that can seem very threatening to our chronic sense of dependency on authorities. And they conclude that if we have the opportunity to take care of ourselves we worry, “well maybe I’m wrong, maybe it won’t work and maybe they’re right.”
One aspect of this new direction of taking care of ourselves is to build confidence in one’s own health decisions. Choosing Wisely®, an initiative of the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, helps providers and patients engage in conversations to reduce overuse of tests and procedures, and support patients in their efforts to make smart and effective care choices.
The Choosing Wisely site reports that a 2014 survey funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that fully three-quarters of physicians say the frequency of unnecessary medical tests and procedures is a serious problem. It campaigns for leading medical specialty societies and other non-physician organizations to identify commonly used tests or procedure whose necessity “should be questioned and discussed”. Their resulting lists of “Things Providers and Patients Should Question” are “intended to spark discussion about the need—or lack thereof—for many frequently ordered tests or treatments”.
By way of an example, as a Christian Science practitioner I was among those invited to participate in a statewide initiative charged with developing healthcare reform recommendations for our legislature. During a meeting of medical and non-medical providers, a physician made a thought-provoking remark to me. He said, “I believe prayer has a place at this table. I have had two patients with the same diagnosis. One chose to pray and the other did not. The one who prayed beat the prognosis. Over the years I have seen that prayer works, but I don’t know how.”
For me prayer begins with a yearning to listen to what some may call intuition or God’s grace. Often I turn to the scriptures to help me ponder something higher than the problem.
About five years ago I was diagnosed with a very painful condition that I was told required surgery. I appreciated the concern expressed by my HMO’s attending physician, but said I would like to pray before deciding to schedule surgery. He stressed that the condition would not go away on its own but warned me that it would continue to incapacitate me further if not attended to.
To me, though, prayer is not an absence of treatment, but a different way of actively challenging ill health. Physical transformation by focusing on, and living, the word of God was first written about several thousand years ago. For instance the book of Proverbs tells us, “My son, attend to my words; …keep them in the center of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh.”
And this is what I experienced. The pain disappeared and I have had no trace of that condition since.
The gift of having confidence in our own healthcare decisions may seem remarkable at first. But perhaps – like me – you, too, might eventually find it to be truly indispensable.