d

Find the silence
   which contains thought.
       --Hakuin       

    

Usual vs. Normal

October 2009

We often mistake what is usual for what is normal. Let me explain.

There have been times when I have asked my patients, “How is your digestion?” And they will say, “Fine.” Yet, they burp with each meal or no matter what they eat, they have gas. And upon further questioning I will find out that they will have bowel movements every other day. And that, believe it or not, they consider that “fine.” We should move our bowels with every meal… like dogs!

The other area of health I find this disconnect in is with PMS. PMS is so usual for so many women that we just right it off as normal. “Oh, it’s just PMS!” Just pop a Midol and go on with your day. But just because you and every woman you know have some form of PMS, does that make it normal?

When I sit down with my new patients to begin my thorough history and intake, there are very few areas of their health that we do not cover in great detail. From the seemingly minor and trivial, to the bothersome and acute, it is all important. What we will invariably find is that the things they have been living with for years, the things that are so usual for them, have fallen off the radar of concern and become normal. I see two reasons for this.

First, we are conditioned to only see our doctors when “something is wrong.” And given that our culture preaches that we can rest when we are dead, many of us would rather push aside those nagging health issues and soldier on, than acknowledge that anything is actually wrong. Until of course, something actually becomes wrong. Until what we are experiencing is clearly no longer usual or normal. Then it is time to “fight the disease.” And since our medical system is set up and is best suited to take up this fight, it positively reinforces this approach to health.

But today you are beginning to hear, even in mainstream areas, talk of prevention and wellness. This brings me to the second reason for mistaking usual for normal. We have had this confusion because we have been conditioned in the West to see health as the absence of disease. That we are either healthy or we are sick. That if your labs don’t show it, or it can’t be seen on an MRI, then we do not know what to treat or worse we think whatever you do ave does not exist. But any wise doctor of any discipline will tell you that health is not black or white; it is grey; that there is an entire continuum between “healthy” and “sick.” And it is in this place that usual is never considered normal.

If you have headaches during PMS, that is something to treat. If you bloat when eating fruit, that is something to treat. If you only go to the bathroom every other day, that is something to treat. You may have been living with these issues for a long time, and other people you know may have them too, but they are signs of an imbalance in your health and are not normal. Welcoming wellness and disease prevention into your life involves shifting your perspective about what is worth treating, about how much better you can feel. Is it enough to just feel “fine?” Or do you believe that you deserve to feel great? How about feeling that way all the time? Why settle for anything less?

Embrace wellness and optimal health!

 

© Jordan Hoffman, L.Ac., Dipl. OM, 2009. All Rights Reserved.

The information presented here is not medical advice, is not intended as medical advice, and is intended to provide only general, non-specific information related to Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture and is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. You should consult a licensed health practitioner before using any of this information.

 
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This site and any articles on this site are not medical advice and are not intended as medical advice and are intended to provide only general, non-specific information related to Chinese Medicine and acupuncture and are not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. You should consult a licensed health practitioner before using any of the information on this site and any articles.