Last issue, the article I wrote was titled ‘House Calls’. The article included a picture of my dad’s old medical bag. Dads bag holds its sacred position in my office next to a sculpture of a medicine man. The two displays could be conceived as polar opposites. Eastern verses Western methods of health care. Recently, Saint George has seen an influx of health care providers. Each provider carries their own methods and practices of healing. Have you ever wondered who to see and or what to do for your health issue?
For example, who should I see or what should I do for my nagging neck and back pain? The options seem overwhelming.
Perhaps I should see neurology, sports medicine, family practice, physical therapy, chiropractor, or pain management? Or maybe my enormous gut is pulling on my back and I am just too fat? Should I see a trainer or nutritionist? What can I do? Should I join a gym? Is it a mind thing? Am I too stressed out and my back is letting me know? Do I need a counselor ? A massage sure sound good! Should I rub some oil on it? Should an acupuncturist stick a needle in it? Seemingly, the conflict of providers and treatment options is overwhelming.
Or is it?
When I look at the medical bag and the medicine man it triggers a stirring story. Dr. Carl Hammerschlag, M.D. a Yale-trained psychiatrist tells the story of working with a Native American who challenged his medical school assumptions. “While working as a family physician in a Native American hospital in the Southwest, Carl Hammerschlag was introduced to a patient named Santiago, a Pueblo priest and clan chief, who asked him where he had learned how to heal. Hammerschlag responded almost by rote, rattling off his medical education, internship and certification.
The old man replied, ‘Do you know how to dance?’ You must be able to dance if you are to heal people,’ he admonished the young doctor. ‘I can teach you my steps, but you will have to hear your own music.’
Like multiple providers and methodologies the choice of keys on the piano can seem overwhelming. Pounding on the same key at the same pace is irritating at best. However, when one of the masters like Jon Schmidt or Liberace begin to play the keys, beautiful music flows. Throughout my career it has been my privilege to hear the music of providers and patients alike. In some cases, western influence came to the rescue of a lifeless child or adult. In other cases eastern culture assisted to overcome cancer and other ‘invaders’. I have also witnessed , both western and eastern methods working harmoniously to help restore a sad, weak drug dependent couple to be happy, strong and independent.
In every successful case, the patient and the provider utilized multiple providers and methodologies. They could hear the music. They danced.