Are You Healthy?

If you ask most people they would say they are healthy. If you ask them to define what is Health they would start to say, “The absence of disease” and then pause. Our medical system can find a disease label to apply to almost anyone. How many Americans are overweight, wear glasses for “Myopia” or some other condition that affects their life in very minor ways?

I still consider myself healthy, even though I can no longer do many of the things I once did. When my eyesight failed I had to give up clinical medicine. I learned that people with far less or no eyesight lived full and seemingly normal lives. I learned how they do it. Armed with those skills I found ways to help in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

I No longer see health as a set of standards. Standards that say you have such and such ability, but as functioning in ways similar to your peers. Thus health is relative and varies throughout life. A healthy infant cannot do what an adult does. An elderly person can no longer do what they did in their “Prime”.

What are the Aspects of Health?

We can break this functioning into four parts of our lives physical, mental spiritual and social. Most of us find the physical easy to understand. Mental is also fairly easy to grasp. The Spiritual is harder to understand. I see it as how we relate to the universe and the essence of others. Western Science has no way to describe or measure this. People throughout time have recognized this. Non-western societies experience this more too.

The vitality that results from living in a functioning community became all too apparent after hurricane Katrina. The illness I saw in Biloxi in the aftermath of that storm was appalling. In those who came to work and those who lived there developed physical illnesses that we do not see elsewhere. The emotional toll was apparent in the depression and suicide. Spiritually many asked, “Where is God?” As help poured in and over time the community came back together. The illnesses disappeared. We do not live alone. We are dependent on each other in ways we can hardly fathom.

Is this social health the outgrowth of our need for Love? I recently came across a study where baby monkeys were separated from their mothers. These infants were offered two surrogates. One a wire mesh structure with a feeding bottle and the second a soft, warm and fur covered one. The infants clung to the fur covered one and avoided the food. The Spiritual and social aspects of health might be ways for us to get the Love we desire, much like the infant monkeys.

So what makes you healthy?

Coach Dr. Dave (MD disabled)

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