A middle-aged man came into our pharmacy. He was the epitome of the phrase, “sick as a dog.” He was pale. His skin was moist. He walked gingerly, as if walking hurt. He was coughing. He was a mess.
“What do you have for a cold?” he asked me. “Hot tea and a couple of days in bed,” I said. He shook his head. “No. I have to go to work.” He began to cough violently. “I feel terrible…”
I felt bad for the guy. He sounded even worse than he looked.
“I just need something so I’m good enough to go to work…,” he said.
Although I sympathized with his desire to meet his obligations and responsibilities, I also knew that he epitomized the “quick fix” view of medicine and pharmaceuticals. “Just make me better.”
Or, more correctly, “Make it better.” As if whatever ails us is separate from us.
Until we understand, accept and embrace that we are not simply the sum of all our parts, that there is a wholeness that is us, then we will continue to objectify our ailments and maladies, turning them into a “problem” that must be “solved,” preferably by a pill or something equally tolerable.
We need to allow ourselves to get better (versus, make ourselves better.) In the process, we should avoid exposing others to our illnesses. The truth is our bodies successfully overcome the vast majority of our ailments. Medicines can help, but we still need to support our bodies in doing what they were designed to do. If we are sick, we still need to rest. We still need to drink plenty of hot fluids.
Medicines can have an important role to play in healing. But that role should not be independent of the body self-healing. Rather, it should be in concert with it. Pre-dosed, pre-packaged medicines are almost always overkill because they are not tailored to our individual needs.