Ever since seeing the film Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the comments made in the film by Dr. Andrew Weil.
According to Dr. Weil, part of the problem with the American healthcare system is how we approach the idea of health. We have created a system, says Dr. Weil, which is not set up to actually care for health or promote wellness, but rather a system which promotes, manages, and rewards disease.
Ask any woman who has gone to a physician seeking help for her perimenopause symptoms and she’ll tell you without equivocation this is true. It was true for me 15 years ago when I was trying to get help, only to be handed a prescription for antidepressants and birth control pills. It’s true for all patients, frankly. We all know the system is broken. What we don’t know is what the hell to do about it.
One idea which was put forth in the film is that of rewarding preventative healthcare. It is an idea which I think we should all be embracing. Is it not better to have a system which promotes and rewards health and wellness than to continually try to prop up a system which is clearly broken and not working?
The answer just seems so obvious, doesn’t it?
I realize this does not speak to the elephant in the living room: the pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and politicians who financially profit from our system exactly the way it is, and who also have no interest whatsoever in changing it.
It is true, those who stand to lose the most from change will fight the hardest to maintain the status quo. But that doesn’t mean we should just give up. If we can’t go through a wall, then we should go around it, go over it, or go under it. Persistence without exception is the only way change will ever occur.
When I first began writing about women’s health issues, I had a burning desire to help women. I still have that burning desire. What has changed is how I see myself helping. There is just so much that can be said about the symptoms of perimenopause, and the experience of menopause. Eventually, you have to get around to talking about the solutions.
I believe the solutions lie in preventative healthcare and wellness. I also believe that if more and more women going through perimenopause and menopause practice preventative healthcare and wellness, the butterfly effect will eventually bring about the much needed change in our healthcare system. Certainly, in the short-term, it will provide much needed relief from the symptoms, which is clearly not being provided by the medical community.
I do not harbor any delusions of grandeur. Neither do I fancy myself to be the Joan of Arc of our healthcare system. If anything, I’m a pragmatic realist. I know how big Goliath is. The problems in our healthcare system are enormous and complex, and quite frankly, there are no fast and easy answers.
But I’m also an optimist at my core, and I believe in the power of a steely focus and drive. Bulldozers can take down walls, too. And in case you don’t know how the story ended, David only had a rock and a slingshot.
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.