It happens every day and it is escalating. A doctor tells you that you “have” something and that there are treatment options, which usually means choices of drugs, surgery, or maybe even doses of radiation. Rarely, if ever, is the new diagnosis approached with a review of diet, exercise, spirituality, emotional life, or even clean water.

Allow me to begin with a story.

I met with a men’s group for years. Clark was the oldest of our group, in his early seventies. One Saturday morning he informed us that he would have to miss a few group meetings because he had to have prostate surgery.

We were stunned and asked questions, of course. It seems that Clark’s doctor had performed a PSA test – one test. The number was elevated and he was sure that surgery was the clear choice for treating the problem. Clark was clearly worried and I told him that he might want to find another medical opinion. After all, the standard for prostate problems had long been a “cautious waiting and watching”. I also mentioned that the PSA test had a checkered history, often yielding false positives – and negatives. Clark listened, but had the surgery a week or so later.

We didn’t see Clark at group for months. It’s been several years since the surgery and we rarely see him anywhere. It seems the surgery didn’t solve the problems. Instead, it had made life fairly miserable for Clark, and diapers were the least of his problems.

A diagnosis is traditionally the identification of the nature of an illness or other problem by examination of the symptoms. The initial impression and diagnosis was commonly verified with testing.

In recent years, however, it has become more common for a diagnosis to be the result of some laboratory test. Most of use have come to believe that we are ill if we have a test that tells us we’re ill, even when we feel perfectly well. We believe that we are living under a pall of illness and that every one of us is probably suffering from some fatal disease.

I heard this morning that one in three adults have high blood pressure. Of course, the advertising was from a health care business wanting everyone who heard their ad to come in for a checkup – and treatment. After all, high blood pressure is a silent killer.

I’m here to state that the advertising is false and unnecessarily inflammatory. Sadly, it is the way we believe and live today. Some of us are even diagnosed with diseases that have yet to become a disease.

Ever heard of pre-diabetes, pre-hypertension, osteopenia, or even pre-cancer? These are diagnoses of diseases that might develop. Of course, there are treatments for the disease you don’t have yet. Usually a drug or surgery. I am convinced that we are encouraged to visit our doctors often – at least an annual checkup – for the unexpressed purpose of discovering a problem. If we look hard enough and often enough we are likely to find something. Clark’s doctor found a test result that informed him that Clark had to have surgery – right away.

There are options – always. Most of the time, the option is a simple change in lifestyle. When faced with a diagnosis I suggest taking a breath, stepping away from the doctor’s office, and research the situation. While doing research, drink clean water, eat organic foods, find a source of grass fed meat, eat organic eggs, exercise for 20 minutes three to five times a week. Take a quality probiotic every day. If you’re distressed in any way – pain, discomfort – seek out an alternative practitioner. I am particularly fond of acupuncture. Then, there’s meditation, deep breathing, and chiropractic. Be aware, though, that you will have to pay for these changes yourself.

It is unlikely you can find someone willing to pay for your healthy meals, acupuncture visits, or exercise program. You can be healthy and feel great.

The responsibility is yours and you’ll pay the bills. I like that approach far better than what’s common today.