Preventable medical error – Is Medicine Killing You? [Ted Talk notes]
Is medicine killing you? Lissa Rankin, MD at TEDxFargo
Great Ted Talk that talks about what we talk about :)
“I was programmed to believe it was my job to medicate you or operate on you so you can go back to the status quo of your stressful life”
- Like the toxic relationships in your life or a soul-sucking job that’s draining your life-force.
- Or financial worries, or loneliness, or pessimistic world-view.
As doctors we are in the business of symptom-relief, not symptom-prevention.
We have a disease-management system, not a healthcare system.
We’re turning a blind-eye to this because we think chronic-stress is just an inevitable part of life; it’s just “how we have to live”.
We don’t want to realize what it would take in order to alleviate our stress. To pre-dispose us to longer, healthier lives.
So we’ve made this collective agreement:
I won’t talk about it and you won’t talk about it.
You know stress is bad for your health. As a doctor I know how many patients are showing up in my office because of the stress in their lives. And yet, we’ve sorta agreed not to talk about it.
- 70% of Americans take at least 1 prescription drug.
- 20% take 5 or more.
And yet, it’s not just the doctors fault, what do we do when the star football player says “Doc, just do anything – do anything you can to get me back in the game so we can win the superbowl!” That’s what many of you as patients are doing. You are asking us as doctors, to fill you with pills, so you can go back to the game of your stressful life. And I’m here because it’s breaking my heart that we’re having to do that. I want to change the game. I want to suggest a different way of doing this.
Stress is not what we think stress is. In this culture stress is like a ‘badge of honour’. “I’m stressed; therefore I’m busy, and worthy, and important.” But to the body, stress is very different. Stress is anything that triggers the amygdala in the brain to turn on the ‘stress response’ often known as the fight of flight response.
So anything that turns on your fight-or-flight response puts you into the sympathetic nervous system and fills your body with cortisol and epinephrine and very poisonous stress-hormones.
Now this is good if you are being chased by a tiger, or if you’re about to be in a car accident because it helps to protect your life. But your amygdala doesn’t know the difference between being chased by a tiger and negative thoughts, beliefs and feelings that originate in your mind. That turn on those stress-responses.
Now what I didn’t realize and this was my big ah-ha. Is that the nervous system has 2 operating systems.
There’s the fight-of-flight stress response; sympathetic nervous system. And there’s the para-sympathetic system or the “relaxation response”. And this was my big epiphany. Your body is beautifully equipped with natural self-repair systems. Your body knows how to fight cancer, how to prevent heart-disease, how to fight off infection; it does this everyday.
But those natural self-repair mechanisms, are deactivated everytime your body’s in stress-response.
Now what is stress? Stress is getting chased by a tiger.
But stress is also:
- – social isolation and loneliness.
- – selling your soul for a paycheck.
- – pessimistic world view.
- – fearful, anxious, worried thoughts.
- – toxic relationships.
- – money worries.
- – knowing that you have a song within you that has yet to be sung.
- – feeling out of touch with your life’s purpose.
- – negative beliefs about your health.
- – overwhelm.
- – feeling like nobody really gets the real you.
- – pretending to be something that you’re not.
- – feeling disconnected from Source.
Every time the body is in stress-response, your body’s natural repair-response are disabled.
What kills me about this is as doctors – by not acknowledging that – by not helping you recognize that – by not identifying with you what might be activating those stress-responses in your body, we might be doing the unthinkable. We might actually be killing you. We might be reducing your life-expectancy. The quality of your life and your whole life-span. And that is not ok. What we need to reclaim is – we need to reclaim the “soul medicine”. That medicine ‘used’ to have.
We think that chronic stress is an inevitable part of life but we can learn from what scientists call the blue zones, the parts of the world where they have a greater than average percentage of people that live to be over 100. These people know what soul medicine is.
What is the medicine that we really need?
- – being loved just as you are
- – helping those in need
- – expressing your creative genius
- – always seeing the glass half-full
- – unconditional love of animals
- – laughing out loud
- – speaking your truth
- – knowing you belong
- – communing with nature
- – nourishing the body with real food
- – tapping into source
- – being unapologetically YOU
I’m not suggesting that you won’t need other medicine. Thank God for modern medicine. I’m not suggesting that we throw the baby out with the bath water. But we’ve forgotten what it means to be true healers.
I know that you need to look at the stress in your life. I know this isn’t what many of you want to hear. I don’t want people to misunderstand me. It’s not easy to look at these parts of your life.
We don’t have to live this way. Because life can be so beautiful.
Imagine this – every morning, you wake up and you’re so excited about all the possibilities that lie ahead because anything could happen. And you’re surrounded by people who love and know the ‘real you’. Not the masks that you put on, to try and ‘fit in’. But the real you underneath. And you’re living your purpose. Your finding and fulfilling your calling. You’re expressing the divine spark within you. And because you are – the bills are paid – the Universe takes care of those who are living in alignment to your divine nature. You laugh often. You love often. You get laid often. These things are good for your health! All of these things have been scientifically proven to reduce stress responses in the body and activate relaxation responses and help your body’s natural self-repair mechanisms, heal you.
And that’s what I want for you.
I know this is hard because I’m not just a doctor, I’m a patient. By the time I was 33 years old, I was taking 7 medications in order to “stay in the game” of my life. I was told that those 7 medications would be something I’d have to take for the rest of my life. And I was a doctor, the doctor/professors were telling me this, and I believed them. I didn’t realize that what I had to do – the medicine “I” really needed – was to ‘get out of the game of my life’.
And when I realized what I was going to have to do I was terrified. Because it meant I had to leave my abusive marriage. And it meant I had to quit my job in medicine – and I spent 12 years training to do this work. And it meant I had to take my entire life-savings and invest it in following a dream, so that I could be here, talking to you about things like this today. And I’m now down to half the dose of 1 of my medications – and this is possible for you. I would love to be able to tell you how you can have this for yourself. But unfortunately. You’re going to have to write the prescription for yourself. But what I can offer, is one question, that I’ve asked many patients and has helped many people heal, and it’s this:
What does your body need in order to heal?
Now I know that the answer that may come up can be very frightening. And change is so scary and uncertainty can be paralysing. But what I’ve discovered on my own personal journey is that the flip side of uncertainty is the ‘possibility of anything being able to happen’.
So I’ve discovered that if you want big miracles – you have to take big risks. And if you’re looking for smaller risks – you have to be willing to accept smaller-miracles. And it’s ok if you are not ready to take those risks but I encourage you to do whatever you need to do in order to give your body the medicine that it really needs.