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I’m Nearly Free – Keeping Mindful in Challenging Times

19 Oct

Prison Bars with Candle

About 17 years ago, I wrote a song about being imprisoned for a crime I had not committed. I based it on David Bain’s case – although I had no proof of his innocence. A patient visiting me, however, had a strong conviction that he was not guilty of murdering his family, and communicated with him regularly by post, visiting him on several occasions in prison. In 2000, in a corner of the now dearly missed Borders Bookshop here in Auckland,  I remember watching Joe Karam, the trusted  champion of David Bain’s innocence, promote his second book on this gripping case. I followed with a presentation and reading of my own from the newly released ‘Healing Ways.’

Then, as now, such synchronicities had meaning, helping me to keep on track during turbulent times.

The song – “I’m Nearly Free” – is a personal favourite although sadly doesn’t attract many ‘Likes’ in social media. Every song has its own personality, and I have learned to accept not all appeal to the masses. “I’m Nearly Free” maybe only ever really talked to me!

“It’s the crash of thunder in the dead of night                                                                            It’s the mystic wonder in a candle light …….                                                                                In the dead of night, in the candle light, I’m nearly free.”

 

In challenging and uncertain times, when faced with an unknown future at the hands of those in whom we have little trust, the solution is to stay present ‘in the moment.’

I have found that focusing my gaze on the tip of a a single candle flame does the trick every time. I allow all in my peripheral visual fields to go blurred – easy for me anyway as without my specs I am very shortsighted! Then a focus on my breath, and I am there – free from an imprisonment of fear and doubt. The mind slows and stops playing its wicked game of blame and shame, of anger and self-pity.  A simple sure-fire (oops) step towards in-the-moment mindfulness – or maybe more accurately mind-free-ness.

I was reminded of all this when, with great anticipation, I tore open the Book Depository bubble-wrap last week to reveal the single-lit candle on the cover of Matthew Fox’s new book ‘Meister Eckhart – A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times.’ Eckhart was the 13th century Christian mystic, who found God and the Holy Spirit throughout the cosmos, within the creative process and within all things and beings, including ourselves. He was of course – like Matthew Fox himself – ex-communicated for expressing such radical and thoroughly deviant opinions!

meister

In his new book, Fox imagines Eckhart meeting and sharing his philosophies with modern spiritual and religious free-thinkers such as Teilhard de Chardin, Thich Nhat Hanh, Carl Jung, Black Elk, Rumi, and Adrienne Rich. So far, I am discovering there is much agreement about how grace enters our lives when we listen deeply to what is present in our lives, to the presence of another being and to the natural world that surrounds us. When we stop trying too hard, when we let go of solutions, and when we are still. In this state we co-create – as we simply allow creativity to flow through us from the cosmos.

Watching the tip of the candle flame somehow helps me to achieve this state by blurring out unnecessary distractions, and by focusing on the profound simplicity of the here and now. It allows me to escape from the dungeon of dark and fearful thoughts, and to indeed feel ‘nearly free.’

There is a Hopi proverb: “Thoughts are like arrows: once released, they strike their mark. Guard them well or one day you may be your own victim.”

We may not be able to control the dastardly acts of others, or the ill-will that prevails in our lives from dark sources, but we can protect ourselves from the venom we concoct for our own ingestion.

And when my own attempts to escape from such imprisoning thoughts result only in temporary tastes of freedom, I have found it pays to be on good terms with the prison guard.

Strangely enough, I have also found he looks a lot like me.

Heaven and Hell

6 Oct

 Dante

Some weeks ago, I set myself a challenge. A long time admirer of Clive James, I was impressed and intrigued by his commitment to complete a contemporary  translation of the epic poem the Divine Comedy written by Dante Alighieri early in the 14th century. Clive James has a terminal illness, and this feat fulfilled a lifelong wish – honouring both his skill as a poet of note, and his ex wife’s status as an eminent Dante scholar. He expresses that he carries some guilt about his role in the eventual breakdown of their marriage.

So the least I could do for Clive, his ex wife (and Dante himself) was to embark on a long overdue attempt at making some sense of the 500+ page poetic masterpiece recording Dante’s imagined journey down through Hell, then up through Purgatory towards a blissful Heaven.

Domenico di Michelino’s fresco of Dante shown above adorns a wall of Florence Cathedral. It depicts the poet holding his most famous work, standing next to the entrance to Hell, the seven terraces of Mount Purgatory and the city of Florence, with the spheres of Heaven above. At present, I am traveling with Dante and his guide Virgil through ‘middle Hell’. I have to say, James’ translation fairly ‘raps’ along – I find myself tapping my foot to the rhythm of the verse, even though Dante’s references to obscure medieval Italian ne’er-do-wells have stretched me somewhat.

As he descends down the circles of Hell, the worldly sins of its inhabitants become more and more dire, culminating in ‘the pits’ as violence, fraud and treachery. They encounter all sorts of horrible predicaments – torture, rivers of boiling blood, slimy snakes and creepy-crawlies aplenty. I can barely wait for the relative promise and relief of Purgatory, portrayed behind Dante in Michelino’s painting as a pyramidal tower whose seven steps rise, Kundilini-like, towards the eternal peace of Heaven.

When I was a hospice doctor in the 90’s, I read both Sogyal Rinpoche’s ‘Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’, and the classic ‘Egyptian Book of the Dead’. I tried to reconcile these visions of an afterlife with the scientific hardline dished out over the past 300-odd years of the ‘Age of Reason’ ie. when we die, everything about us goes away. Our consciousness goes as our brain dies. We have no soul.

This conventional stance would appear paradoxically to be more dogmatic than reasonable. It even conflicts with one of the stated fundamentals of science – the 1st Law of Thermodynamics which states that energy is our universe is never destroyed, rather it is perpetually recycled. At the risk of sounding dogmatic myself, surely the only ‘reasonable’ conclusion that modern scientists should come to is that they have absolutely no clue as to what happens to us when we die.

The emerging science surrounding Near Death Experiences is perhaps one step towards a deeper secular Western understanding of death and dying. There is growing evidence that consciousness persists, even when human brains are inactive. In his 2013  bestseller ‘Proof of Heaven’ the Harvard neurosurgeon Eben Alexander describes his experiences of a sublimely beautiful heaven while much of his brain had turned to mush by E.coli encephalitis. Consciousness, he concludes, cannot reside solely within the living human brain.

My own understanding is influenced as much from the feelings I experience from being in the presence of the dying, as from any of these texts (which admittedly I devour with relish.) Presently my views closely echo the lyrics of one of my favourite singer-songwriters, the Canadian Ron Sexsmith, in his song  ‘God Loves Everyone’:

“There are no gates in heaven, everyone gets in
Queer or straight, souls of every faith
Hell is in our minds, Hell is in this life
But when it’s done, God takes everyone.”

Over the past four years, our family has been suffering from the effects of the very same toxic behaviour as exhibited, in their lifetimes, by many of the unwilling residents trapped in Dante’s Hell. Of course, being subjected to threats and lies by a major corporation that affect our family’s future lifestyle and financial security is but a minor inconvenience compared with the hellish terror inflicted on those poor souls facing execution, and on their desperate families, by terror groups such as ISIS. However, it is largely through our personal recent experiences that I can now truly empathise with Ron’s words: “Hell is in this life.”

But the upside of all this unpleasantness is a growing awareness of how much we have to be grateful for – so many blessings to count.

One of these blessings is the privilege I feel when a family invites me to play a role in the care of a loved one who is facing death. Over the past month, I have been treated to such an invitation from a family who have shared their love and deep respect for their dear wife and mother who passed peacefully a week ago. In her graceful presence, I too was allowed to further transform as I released my need to rescue by being simply present.

This was my glimpse of heaven – a space of acceptance and love.

Glimpses that also come – perhaps more inconspicuously – when I am walking on the beach with Trish and our cavoodle Lily, or when I am attending my children’s and grand-children’s birthday parties, or when I write and sing a song, or even as I write this blog.

These are glimpses of reality and truth – more real and truer by far than our first-worldly battles with large corporations and the legal system, and with those individuals who are so trapped within these illusionary man-made prisons, these modern day cults, that they must struggle to experience that which is really important.

Some of these folk will go on to discover these truths through the trials and tribulations of their own unique lives; some as they themselves catch a glimpse of heaven between their dying breaths; and some maybe within the moment they leave behind their so-transient material existence and wealth for pastures anew.

I don’t envy them, but I do wish them well.

“Illegitimi procul ‘Subscriptio Domus’ non carborundum” – Finally my Latin is useful!

23 Sep

keep-calm-and-illegitimi-non-carborundum-7

OK – so it’s possibly not the best headline for enticing hoards of eagerly expectant  blogees to ponder over any words of wisdom that I may inadvertently project onto this presently blank and virtual page. But our current dire legal situation calls for  perspicacity, extreme caution and wily cunning.

It also calls for a code that that is easily broken by the educated and informed, and by those willing to be challenged cryptically. But will deter the impatient, the ill-informed and those too busy to care.

So a touch of Latin fits the bill nicely. Well, maybe there is another more telling reason – maybe I feel the need to return to a time in my youth I felt somewhat in control. After all, I was pretty good at Latin – to a B+ or possibly an A- level. And no, contrary to popular belief, it has not proved in any way helpful for my medical studies, and  totally useless for my later attempts to study Traditional Chinese Medicine.

At school, so attracted was I to this mysterious long-time-dead language, that I voluntarily studied Latin verse – Ovid, Virgil and various other ancient poets whose names I completely forget. Beavering away alongside me all those years ago was a true A + classic scholar. His name was Michael Fallon, now Defence Secretary for Cameron’s UK government.

The Rt Honourable Michael Fallon’s current adversaries are Vladimir Putin, and the Conglomerate known as ISIS.

The marginally less honourable Robin Kelly’s  current adversaries are the New Zealand Conglomerate known, to this minor Latin scholar, as ‘Subscriptio Domus’. (To help those who wisely avoided misspending their youth on such a useless subject google it on https://translate.google.com/#en/la/)

“Cometh the hour, come the men” comes to mind.

I have tried many times to convey in suitable prose the agonising horrors of the case known as ‘The Kelly Family vs Famous Nationwide Building Conglomerate’ – but have hitherto been unable to set the creative juices aflow.

You see, if I mention their names, or describe their dastardly acts of deceit, not only does it induce instant nausea, it could well land me in big trouble with their very smart lawyer.  Like all smart lawyers, she is expensive, and strange though it seems to us, the Conglomerate the Kellys face has hoards tucked away to pay her handsomely (but nothing we are told to fix our house.)

Just as it seems to have no trouble at all finding funds for those glossy prime time advertisements on our two major free to air TV stations. In our house, and I gather in many similarly afflicted households around the country, adverts that are met with frantic searches for the elusive remote and its even more elusive mute button, and for any spare cushions from behind which we can hide our eyes –  while deliriously and crazily screaming in unison “Illegitimus, illegitimus” (or words to that effect).

In the early days (our conflict is now over 4 years old – only 3 months shorter than World War 1), a traumatic ad-attack such as this could strike suddenly, out of the blue, like a sniper’s bullet to the heart .

But battle-hardened we have become wise, and we have learned to predict when the enemy is due to launch their attack. ‘Subscriptio Domus’ it appears has also sufficient funds to be the proud sponsor of the world’s longest running TV soap opera  ‘Via Coronatarium*.’ (as you can see, so old it dates back to Roman times.)

Our home in North London in the fifties still had an air raid shelter which had been converted into a coal cellar (remember coal?). As a small boy I imagined the air raid siren triggering a mad dash to the shelter, where the family before us waited in trepidation as the V bombs passed over head.
Over seventy years later, the doleful sound of Via Coronatarium’s theme tune causes similar panic in our home. Thank heavens for the pre-record button.
But fear not, we have not let the ‘illegitimi’ grind us down. Far from it. As we enter our 5th ‘annus horribilis’, we do so considerable wiser and still remarkably light of heart. Despite our four long years of ‘subpoenas’, ‘affidavits’ ‘ex gratias’, ‘quid pro quos’ et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Come to think of it we’ve got to be careful – those lawyers know more Latin than I thought!
* not a real Latin word. So who cares?

 

 

 

 

Authentic vs Authoritative Medicine Pt 2 – PTSD

12 Jul

workplace bullying

In the last two blogs, I discussed how it is my simple goal to try to get someone better by forming a bond with this person, and then devising a plan which often involves the help of others. In short, team work is needed – communities heal and if I can help the person connect with selected friends, relatives, and the right professionals, then my job is often done and dusted. I may even be  permitted to be a member of this hallowed gathering of like-minded souls.

As so much dis-ease is, at its roots, the result of  the impact of abandonment and separation, it would seem a safe and sensible  place to start. After all, as my Buddhist and physicist friends frequently remind me, our separation from others, and from our universe, is but a delusion healed temporarily through the practice of meditation and chanting, and permanently within the space that follows our last earthly breath.

And so feeling alone, picked-on, abused or bullied goes against our natural order.  It is traumatic, stressful, and the effects, especially when experienced at a young age, can last a lifetime – in fact many lifetimes as we now know we can pass on these unresolved feelings to future generations. And receive them unwittingly from those who have gone before.

So when I say to someone they are displaying signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, then I am onto a pretty safe bet. Join the club, I say – each and every one of us is fully paid-up a member.

Of course there are extreme and tragic cases of PTSD;  the sexually and physically abused, the military personnel returning from war-torn countries, those seriously injured in accidents,and many others who have witnessed first hand man’s inhumanity to mankind as one group imposes their will violently upon another.

Every day, an average of 22 US war veterans are unable to tolerate the living hell of PTSD and end their own lives. It is for this very reason that money and resources are being spent both researching this condition, and devising effective plans so that the scars of battle are permanently healed.

The teams of therapists and doctors assigned to healing these veterans are frequently discovering that beyond the raw horrors of war, there often lie other horrors experienced in childhood -some remembered, some buried. Maybe the soldier they are seeing is holding the memories of many generations, all with unresolved PTSD impacting on subsequent offspring. At the least, the child will absorb the fear of the father. At the worst, the child suffers physically from his lashing out.

I have talked to several colleagues in the US involved in this essential work. They tell me for them it has proved life-changing – as they recognise these patterns, albeit milder versions, in their own selves. Their conditioned reactions to perceived threats, their addictive behaviour, and their feelings of unease.

And they have recognised it more and more in their ‘civilian’ practices – how widespread it has been for us all to be conditioned into fear, feeling belittled, and abandoned along the way. And so they are adapting  the healing methods they use on the soldiers  for use on the folk from all walks of life that come to see them, stressed by traumas past and present.

To help these folk heal the therapist cannot act in any way that separates he or she from the person. We simply cannot act autocratically, or lack empathy. Not only will this not help – it will worsen the situation.

Listening intently, without judgement, as I have frequently said, is the essential first step. Exploring the person’s childhood, and the lives of preceding generations is important. Sharing one’s own life can be helpful too (I don’t worry about perceived transference, as I believe we are all really in a perpetual state of togetherness anyway!)

And then therapies that may help – relaxation, meditation, breath work, certain pills (natural and synthetic), acupuncture and emotional freedom techniques. Each one individual to the needs of the person.

And so, at long last, I come to my second case. For confidentiality reasons, I have changed the name and other details but retained the essence.

Anne taught art at a co-ed intermediate school, and had felt so intimated by the critical actions and words of a senior staff member as to become extremely stressed . She couldn’t sleep, was off her food, and the atmosphere at work became so bad that she had to take time away from the job, and the students she loved so much.

And so when she came to me in this state, I listened as always, gently probing her early life for similar episodes with authority figures. We shared stories how our fathers had both served in wars, but wouldn’t talk much about their traumatic experiences.  We talked about holding the sadness and grief of previous generations – and of course their joys. We devised a plan that involved friends, emotional freedom techniques, and acupuncture with the idea that Anne would be able to resume her work, despite the continued presence of her senior work colleague.

For weeks all went well – I offered to communicate with the senior administration staff about her progress, if Anne felt this would help. Along the way, Anne had told  them about her version of PTSD.

It was clear though on talking to the school that this diagnosis was unwelcome. I explained that the only reason for making any diagnosis was  that planning could take place, and hopefully a cure elicited. I explained that already there were signs that Anne was feeling better, and would be able to return to work in the near future.

But no, for the school administration this diagnosis rang alarm bells.

They requested a report from me, together with an explanation of the theories I have alluded to in this blog.

They also requested that Anne saw a psychiatrist –  a decision which Anne felt duty bound to accept. The consultation took place – by this time Anne was already feeling better.

The psychiatrist’s report: no evidence of PTSD according to the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). There was some reference to to ‘alleged bullying.’  But my – our – diagnosis was well and truly overruled .

So here’s the thing. There are diagnoses for healing, and diagnoses for other reasons. Legal reasons. Liability reasons.  Political reasons.

Other people’s reasons.

It is my firm opinion that using the criteria of a DSM diagnosis to dominate one’s assessment of someone suffering from emotional disorders is fraught with problems.It represents at best a flawed attempt to define a complex condition in linear terms. Helpful maybe for research papers, but potentially dangerous in the wrong hands. The act of defining a sensitive’s being’s  state of health by an authority figure in this way, could cause compounding stress on the sufferer – sadly I have witnessed this scenario all too often in recent years.

Such assessments should only be performed by health professionals who understand this, and have some conscious awareness on the roles empathy and intuition play alongside their analytical skills.

So it seems my diagnosis was ‘wrong’ according to the official specialist endorsed tick list. It has been rejected by the authorities. So the school administration is no doubt relieved.

And Anne – yes she is feeling better, and not panicking in the presence of her nemesis. She is sleeping well, and her students are delighted she is back.

And I  have a feeling her ancestors are feeling better too.

 

 

Authentic vs Authoritative Medicine Pt 1

1 Jul

Image

I keep landing myself in trouble with the authorities. Let me explain.

I have always believed that the person seeking my help is the important one. So it is important and much simpler for me to devote my time and energy in helping that person achieve better health in the quickest and most economical way possible. Sometimes pills do this – for instance antibiotics for a bladder infection – and sometimes it is just listening. Sometimes something else.

In the early 80s, I started to use acupuncture for this very reason – what could I do in 20 minutes that would achieve this goal, and at the very least not make matters worse? After over thirty years I am still doing acupuncture – often with the same points and techniques I used at the start. In contrast, I have seen many many drugs come and go, as they have either proved unsafe for human consumption, or have been superseded by their latest model as their patents ran out.

Besides, I just love doing acupuncture – it seems to work for those coming to see me, and sustains me mind, body and soul.

But what I don’t love doing much is filling in forms. I do tolerate this activity more if it is directly beneficial for the person’s healing – sick notes, work and income forms etc. And I do accept there isn’t a job in the world that doesn’t include tasks that are a complete drag to perform. In fact, I have been able to take some selfish comfort in the fact that my working life is perhaps 1000% more fulfilling than the people devising such forms, or the people having to decipher the mess I make filling the things in.

But here (at last) is my point…..I am asked to write these forms because somehow along my life’s journey, without ever being asked, I have been perceived as an authority figure useful in confirming the story of someone with less authority and standing in society as myself. The reason behind the forms is almost always money. Somehow I am deemed responsible for saving government agencies, insurance companies, corporations, employers and last but not least individuals and employees, money.

Mind you, if I don’t quite use my authority properly, and seem to support the individual rather than the funding authority, my status is fairly and squarely reassessed. I can quickly become known as a lousy authority figure, and appropriate punishment and humiliation invariably ensues.

And this – initially at least- causes me to become a bit grumpy. I have even been known to swear. But then, after these fleeting dark times, a light begins to shine, and stars begin to twinkle. Stars that rapidly transform into the lucky variety – which of course I duly thank. For it is times such as these that are the inspiration behind this blog.

Examples please, you ask. Well I’ll give you two most recent – although I’ll do my best to disguise the individuals involved for confidentiality and ethical reasons (although you’ll know who you are.).

Firstly, we have in New Zealand an authority who funds accidents known as the ACC. They like people who have had accidents to get better quickly. If they don’t, and for instance suffer from pain for years, the ACC become unhappy and often go to great lengths to suggest ways to stop their funding. If someone in this sorry state comes to me, I firstly see if there is anything causing their pain to continue that I can help eliminate so they can feel better for good.

If this proves difficult or impossible, the next thing I do is find ways to minimise their pain and suffering – which is precisely what I had been doing with the divine Miss T for years. For her, the thing that worked best was acupuncture – for others it may have been Tai Chi, singing lessons, medications or seeing someone else. But for Miss T it was a monthly session of acupuncture.

But the funding authority in question was not happy with this. They banned funding Miss T’s acupuncture treatment, allowing funding only if the reason she consulted me was to fill in their forms, or to prescribe drugs (which don’t work, and have in the past caused dangerous side effects.) ie to behave like a proper doctor.

On discussing this with the young ACC case manager, I was quizzed: “So what is a doctor doing acupuncture for anyway?”

“Well,” I replied,” It is the only thing that seems to work for her, and to give her relief.”

“Does that mean it isn’t real pain then?” she countered. Obviously a student of existential philosophy, I pondered

After this things quickly got a lot worse. You know the scene, “Can I speak to you superior? “No she will say the same as me” (clairvoyant too, I pondered further). “Can we have a meeting here?” “No, we don’t visit doctors’ rooms anymore for health and safety reasons.”

Let’s be honest – I am a very disappointing authority figure. Oddly and frustratingly, very difficult to control, with a vastly inferior understanding of existential philosophy, and a piss-poor clairvoyant to boot.

Well this sorry exchange happened well over a year ago – and yes I could challenge the decision with more forms, and more phone calls. But the fact remains, the divine Miss T will only be funded if her doctor does his principal duty of filling in forms, or prescribe dangerous drugs that don’t work.

And example two?

Well, that will now have to wait for the next blog, because, as Trish always reminds me: “You don’t half go on….”

Escaping the Medicine of Control

23 Jun

doctor-yoga-relaxation-techniques-stress

Thirty three years ago, I was attracted to general practice in New Zealand for three main reasons. Firstly, consultations averaged fifteen minutes compared to less than ten in my native UK. Secondly, patients paid a part charge for a consultation, encouraging their active participation in their health. They appeared to be more  motivated, and educated on health matters. And thirdly, and this one attracted me personally, life in general appeared less rushed and the food fresh and more plentiful.

I have continued in general practice ever since with little change to my ‘modus operandi.’ My consultation times have stretched out to half an hour, with well over a full hour assigned to complex issues and new patients. I listen deeply, we share insights, take a history and examine, all to an acoustic background of soft classical music. The overall aim is for us to form a true partnership, gel on our health goals, and for the consultation process to embody the peace and respect so often missing in the person’s life. As well as appropriate and measured prescribing of pharmaceuticals when indicated, and organising tests or referrals, I frequently help the person achieve this state of balance, a physiological coherence, through a few sessions of acupuncture; something I have studied and practised  ever since starting my general practice career.

In recent years I have taught techniques that people can use so that they can achieve such coherence in their own lives. Simple breathing, meditation, emotional freedom techniques and methods to help discover untapped creative abilities.

Over twenty years ago, my wife Trish and myself decided the best environment in which to provide this care was in a purpose built area of our home. Not only could we enjoy it all more, but people coming could feel in some way like guests – with an atmosphere of shared trust ensuing.

Ten years ago we made the decision not to enter into a new direction for general practice in New Zealand. In a radical political  move, doctors were encouraged to become health providers for entities known as  Primary Health Organisations. There were tempting incentives. Patients would be required to ‘enroll’ in a particular practice ( a process known as capitation), and the doctor would then receive a government payment for each enrolled patient, with the idea that the cost to the patient for each consultation would become cheaper. In return for these subsidies, the doctor had certain obligations to community health – the screening of potential chronic ill health, smoking cessation, immunisations etc. These quickly became targeted outcomes that doctor’s practices were required to meet.

Along with these obligations, came paper work, treatment protocols, mandatory software upgrades, and more paper work. ‘Best Practice’ guidelines based on the limits of Evidence Based Medicine were devised and expected to be followed.

The consultation times would be on average fifteen minutes, with a meaningful time of doctor/patient interaction calculated at six minutes.

We wondered just where our little homely practice fitted into this brave new world of primary medical care. So we decided to not sign up and to keep doing what we had set out to do- basically to listen to each person’s individual needs and come up with a plan unique to them that would lead to better health. Financially, we would be worse off – and this has proved to be the case- and patients would have to pay a bit more because of the extra time they were given, and the fact we were not receiving capitation subsidies. We were able to counter-act this somewhat by practising at home and lowering our overheads, we have tried to keep our charges reasonable. Moreover, we decided that our mode of medicine suited us and our patients best, and was mentally, emotionally and spiritually sustainable for use well into our old age.

I also predicted that eventually those doctors entering this PHO could become swamped with bureaucratic duties that lay outside their primary function – to assess, diagnose and heal the person presenting to them. I predicted that in return for government funds, their obligations to the state would increase, and their remuneration for such would decrease. I predicted that the treatment protocols would become more and more prescriptive, with less value placed on clinical judgement honed for years of practice and study.

In short, I predicted many doctors would become unwell, burnt out, dispirited and generally fed up.

I have no doubt that this new wave of general practice has provided certain benefits. Note keeping and simple preventative care initiatives have improved, and basic medical care has become more affordable to those struggling financially( I encourage those seeking my help to keep one foot in this system.)

But on the surface I am not aware of any great improvement to community health. Our poor and poorly educated continue eat unhealthy sugar and fat rich diets, while ‘middle New Zealanders’ – in our lagest city Auckland at least – seem more time-stressed and burdened by debt than ever. My one- day-a-week  work in a university health centre reveals overwhelming numbers of young people carrying the diagnoses of anxiety and depressive disorders.

Moreover, I know of no serious all embracing audit that has evaluated whether this new version of primary health care is an improvement on the past.

In the blogs to follow, I will describe both the joys and the difficulties we have encountered as we strive to continue to practise quality person-centred healthcare. I will show how the gulf between our type of medicine and the type expected from doctors in general is sadly widening; and most importantly what it is that we can all do to help change things for the better.

So thank you for your support. Please bookmark this blog, contribute and reply.

Next blog:  Authentic vs Authoritarian Healthcare.

 

 

Welcome to my new blog!

31 May

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Hello world!

31 May

Welcome to WordPress.com! This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

Happy blogging!