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This is Barbara's reaction to a Wall Street Journal article, “Getting Well: It’s About Time.”. The premise of the article is about the staggering costs of seeking medical care for illnesses which will just take time to recover from rather than meriting what are unnecessary tests, treatments and doctor visits.
The headache hit me on Christmas Day, 1974. It was a bad headache. I was particularly attuned to headaches at that time. You see, my sister had died in May at the age of twenty-five from an aneurysm of the brain. Her last words were I have a bad headache. So, it was off to the doctor for me. Here I was told I was suffering from a sinus headache. I was relieved but little was I to know that I was embarking on an occasional but lifelong quest: life without a sinus headache.
I soon tired of prescription medicine. In addition to the inconvenience and expense of seeing the doctor every time I needed a refill, I felt I was having side effects—a buzz in the back of my head.
I moved on—to over-the-counter remedies. I soon tired of them. Why you ask? It was simple: I didn’t want to be dependent on the little pills and dependent I was. I needed my pill every four hours or the headache was truly excruciating.
I moved on—to reflexology. My husband Kevin had become interested in the idea and I was his test subject. Much to my relief, it worked. I could be headache free with reflexology.
I moved on—to self-help reflexology. It was obvious I had a chronic problem that needed on-going attention and I wanted to be self sufficient, taking responsibility for my own health concern. Yes, it has worked. Now, I do work at it—some years and some seasons of the year more than others—and at the moment I am in a more-work-needed cycle.
Why do I bore you with my sinus headache story? It’s because I’ve discovered that my headache and I are trendy. Yes, we’re at the forefront of the health care debate sweeping the country and being pursued around the world.
What’s so special about me? Well, to put it bluntly, I’ve been self reliant. I haven’t depended on anyone or anything other than myself (and OK, Kevin) to solve my health concern. Over the years I’ve considered in personal terms what it’s saved me in time and money not to visit doctors or to buy prescription drugs or over-the-counter remedies. I’ve been proud and self- satisfied for being in control of my health destiny, out from under the tyranny of a little pill and avoiding the potential side effects no matter how benign the medication. But I’ve never thought before what a big favor I’ve done for my country. (OK, I am kidding here.) Frankly, I was doing what was self-serving for me and I succeeded.
I really don’t expect any accolades for my exemplary efforts (OK if you want to send some though). What I do expect, however, is your consideration of an idea many seem to think is far out on a limb.
You see I am a professional reflexologist and the author of 13 reflexology books published in 19 languages and 57 foreign editions. In certain circles, my name would be well known and I would be acknowledged as a leading authority—for one, the Chinese Reflexology Association considers Kevin and I to be the leading experts in “Western reflexology.” I won’t go into details here about the practice of reflexology since ancient times or the millions around the world who rely on reflexology for healthful benefits or the hundreds of studies that show the impact of reflexology work on the human body.
I would like you, however, to see what I saw when I read a recent Wall Street Journal article (September 22, 2009) and I quote: “An estimated one-third to one-half of the $2.2 trillion Americans spend annually on health care in the U. S. is spent on unnecessary tests, treatments and doctor visits.” Author Melinda Beck notes that our doctors do not want to see us for an array of maladies that the passing of time can solve. These include; “colds, flu, sore throats, sore muscles, headaches, stomach aches, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, hangovers, back pain, jaw pain, tennis elbow, blisters, acne and colic.”
What I saw in my mind’s eye were the people I have known who have sought and received reflexology’s help to ease symptoms for health concerns including many of those listed. For example, Ms. Beck notes that colic passes in four months time. I think of the parents’ four months of nerves frayed by the sound of a crying baby, sleepless nights, and work productivity reduced. By the way, a Danish study shows that reflexology reduced crying time for half of colic infants, eliminated the problem for one fourth, and created improvements for the rest that were significantly better than those of the control group.
You can see where I’m going with this. Yes, some of the maladies I have personally tackled may have passed with time. I can tell you, however, that thanks to reflexology I have by-passed unpleasant effects of discomfort and pain as well as improved my quality of life, missing fewer days of work and fewer family events. I’m pleased and proud and hopeful that those who have read our reflexology books or used reflexology have been able to impact their own health, the health of their family and friends and/or professional clients.
I can’t tell you that either research or my personal and professional reflexology experiences make me think reflexology can solve all problems for all people. I can tell you, however, that ideas such as reflexology and efforts such as mine and those of many others—and possibly yours too depending on what you’ve done for yourself—can help solve a national problem.
I ask that when you think of the national debate on health care now underway, you realize that solutions are out here, just beyond what may be considered conventional but which—if you’re smart— may be an answer to your personal health pursuit and, yes, the nation’s problem.