‘Who is ‘Doctor’ for you?
I was posed this question by a Taoist priest in 2008. He was encouraging me to reflect on my roles both as an acupuncturist and herbal medicine practitioner as well as an individual and patient.
Who would I first consult if I was unwell? I ran through various scenarios in my head in order to answer this question: What if I felt blue? What if blue descended to black and I was having difficulty hanging on to my own life? What if I had a sore knee for no reason? What if my knee was injured due to a fall? What if I was coming down with a cold? What if my back was chronically aching? What if I found a lump in my breast?
Each question provoked a different emotional and sometimes physical response. As the scenarios played in my mind some invoked a practical, matter-of-fact response and others reduced me to fear and nausea. One thing became very apparent. I did not think clearly in the grips of fear and nausea. In those scenarios, I found myself quickly trying to deflect my anxiety on to another, seemingly wiser one, or at least, a calmer one.
Then it occurred to me that normally I AM the calmer, wiser one in all matters pertaining to me. No one knows me better than I know myself. No one can better factor in all my complexities since no one knows them like I do. And I am increasingly concerned that, when so many practitioners are overworked, no one will spend as much time researching all the options available to me, than me.
It is for this reason I believe that for any imbalances in my physical, emotional and spiritual health, I am ‘Doctor’ for me. My consultants may end up being surgeons, reflexologists, oncologists, acupuncturists, nutritionists, ayurvedic or herbal medicine practitioners, my local GP, psychotherapists or any of a number of allopathic or complementary practitioners. But I believe that it is my responsibility to pause, reflect, research, consult my consultants, and then determine the best course of action for me.
It was so much easier for me to answer this question in relatively good health. It gave me the time and space to run through available options and try to imagine and intuit what I would do. This was a highly personal reflective process. The course of action that I concluded I’d take may not make sense for anyone else but me. This was my thought process, my reflections and my journey.
However, I do believe that for all of us, it is worth taking the time now, in relative good health, in the absence of fear or urgency, to answer this question:
Who is ‘Doctor’ for you?