Lance Foster (hengruh) wrote,
Lance Foster

Thinking about Health and Decline

There was a computer game called "SimEarth" I had back in the 90s. You could play different variants, including evolution-tinkering. One of the variants focused on human civilization. You had a limited amount of "energy" that you could allocate to different areas, such as health technology, energy (conventional, nuclear, etc.), manufacturing, technology, war, communication, environment, philosophy, agriculture/food, etc. The goal was continually balancing and allocating resources to see how long you could get civilization to survive.

The thing was, no matter what you did, or how careful you were, almost any route you went eventually led either to nuclear war, or overpopulation which led to starvation and disease (and sometimes war). Whether it took decades or a couple of hundred years, the result was a devastated planet and crumbled civilization.

Then one day, I did a radical rethinking and allocated most of the energy to "philosophy" (which in this game represented acceptance of death, enjoyment of life, ethical behavior), and very little or nothing to any of the others, including health technology. After all, improvements in health tech meant more people survived, so more food was needed, which eventually meant more energy was taken from other areas, which resulted in environmental destruction and war over remnant resources.

Low health tech meant a natural balance of steady depopulation to a sustainable level of low population. That meant less competition over limited resources. High "philosophy" meant people accepted life for what it was and treated each other ethically, both within a civilization as well as neighboring states. The result? Civilization, such that it was, lasted tens of thousands of years. The game said I had won.

I used to have a good fulltime job with health insurance 5 years ago. But it was a high stress job. Three trips to the hospital with heart issues, high blood pressure, anxiety, etc. The doctor said I was killing myself and pumped me full of psychodrugs for anxiety as well as betablockers for blood pressure. I was in my late 40s and the spiral had begun.

But I jumped ship. For those health reasons and other personal reasons, I resigned. My income dropped to zero. I moved and for the first couple of years on my savings I was able to afford to go to a public clinic doctor for bronchitis, pneumonia, get my blood pressure meds etc. I applied for jobs, but either I was "overqualified"/overeducated or didn't have the connections ...or, I suspect, too old to compete for the few jobs available.

I weaned myself slowly off the betablockers I could no longer afford ($50 a month), used natural stress relief and walking to drop some pounds, and got more into Marcus Aurelius, tribal religion, art and nature to deal, as well as part time teaching to pay rent and food (which is pretty much all I could afford, and even that was hard).

Since then I have survived several bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis, the shingles, liver problems, fevers, kidney stone passage, etc. entirely through self-care (hot baths, herbs, sleep, avoiding or eating certain foods, etc.). Eventually I will fail and I will die. On a long enough time scale, everyone fails and dies.

I lost my mother to bowel and liver cancer this year in May. I watched her dying for two months, first in the hospital and then at the end at home. They didn't know what was going on at first. She had been in the hospital a year ago with meningitis. Then they saw she had a bowel cancer that metathesized into liver cancer that riddled her liver. They figured she had had the bowel cancer for at least ten years. So why didn't they see anything wrong when she was in the hospital a year ago?

Biomedicine has overspecialized from what I see, everyone a specialist who only knows how to look for, and ONLY looks for, their own specialty. The focus is on billing for various procedures. My brother is a pharmacist and he took time to be my mom's primary advocate while she was dying, and he stopped them several times for improper drug interactions, etc.

She had a good job with insurance. She had gone regularly to the doctor. No one caught her bowel cancer for a decade. It cost her tens of thousands of dollars, and in the end everything ended up the same anyways.

There aren't many general practitioners who seem to have the patient's big picture anymore, not in this town anyways. And like many folks, I don't have the money to see them if there were. If I get a broken bone or end up in some kind of accident I can't treat myself, I will have to be on the mercy of the county or the kindness of strangers at that point. If that doesn't work out, well...I guess that's life. We aren't exempt. We WILL ALL die. So live while you can and enjoy the life you DO have :-)

The Grimms had a story to remind us about all this, which you may remember I told earlier in this blog.
Tags: death, health, herbalism

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