Tuesday, March 18, 2008

“Baggage is a big-ticket item”

I read that headline in the paper yesterday and my thoughts immediately went to the subject matter – that airlines will start charging fees for oversized and extra luggage. Since I do a lot of flying this, quite frankly, pisses me off.

But this also hit me on an esoteric level, and I found the headline even more interesting when I read the comment made by the United Airline’s senior veep: “The definition of basic airline service is evolving, and different airlines have different answers on what comes standard with a ticket.”

When I thought about this in a medical/integrative medical level, my only thought was, “Oh my holy liver, what a concept! How I wish a doctor had made it.” With a little tweaking, this sentence would read:

“The definition of basic medical care is evolving, and different doctors have different answers on what comes standard with treatment.”

Could it be that standard medical treatment is evolving? With mind/body medicine making a bigger splash in the medical arena, the idea of wellness and disease are taking on new definitions. Suddenly the baggage that we all carry takes on new significance. Stress, fear, loneliness, abandonment, divorce, financial issues, life-long family issues are playing a responsible role in diagnosing disease.

With all the emotional baggage we carry, is it such a strange notion to have things a little backward – that docs are treating the manifestation of something far larger. For instance, what’s the first thing a cardiologist tells his patients? “Reduce your stress levels.” They’ve known for many years that stress kills. Stress is accepted as one of many catalysts for the manifestation of heart disease. Is then a stretch of the imagination to include loneliness, anger, or hate in that list as well? If our baggage is seen as being a catalyst to disease, then doesn’t it make sense to treat that just as aggressively?

For example, I remember a nurse telling me many years ago that cancer was “the angry disease.” Huh? I’ve known a number of people with cancer, and I’d say most of them displayed that particular characteristic, but what about the others, who were some of my best buds?

“No,” she told me, “I’m not talking about the screamers and yellers. They’re the ones with high blood pressure and ulcers. The cancer folk are invariably the quiet ones with festering bundles of unexpressed rage or resentment. That rage has to go somewhere, and it seeks out the weakest link. Sure, we know all about mutated cells that go haywire and turn into cancer, but that spark has to have a point of origin - just like a fire. So where does the spark come from? I say anger has a lot to do with it.” She shrugged and told me it was her armchair philosophy based on years spent as a nurse.

I was utterly riveted by her thoughts and flashed back to the old, “she died of a broken heart” explanation when I attended a funeral as a kid. Is that actually a possibility? If so, shouldn’t we, as a society, be taking a closer look at ourselves to see whether we’re carrying too many bags, its contents, and if it’s too heavy?

I know that when I began Reiki my health was vastly improved. Besides giving up my medicine (on doctor’s orders), I no longer suffered crushing headaches that plagued me. Was the energy getting in and helping me cosmically unpack? I’ll never really know, of course. Though I will say that I feel as though I walk around with a much lighter load.

Baggage really is a big-ticket item, and I long for the day when docs enter America’s exam rooms and ask what baggage we are carrying and help relieve us of a suitcase or three. Man oh man, now that’s what I call evolution.

No comments: