Health Alternatives and Reality – Pt 1


Small waterfall along a gorge trail.

To what school of health do you belong?

Okay. You got me. Recently I posted about my experience with vitamin D deficiency and it produced obvious resonance. It made me think about what else you might find of interest. I can’t say I come from a specific school as it relates to health except maybe the School of the Doubting Thomas. So, I looked back and found the roots of my position.


My father was a surgeon. He pioneered abdominal surgery in the 30s, 40s and 50s. To me he was Dad and, of course, I looked up to him. It was only later that my brother (an attorney), after some experience in medical malpractice, reported to me how eminent he was. Such a position would make one suspect that he would hold an elevated centrist position. He did not.

The story of his life inspired me. He was born into deep Mississippi poverty. The family was challenged at every level. Finally with his father’s blessing he boarded a train for Washington in 1917 and went to work in the War Department. From there he climbed to college at Columbia in New York and then on to medical school there. It was a breathtaking story of devotion, challenge and, interestingly, a deep commitment to independent thought.

I was my father’s favorite son. He liked to fish, hunt, ride horses, hike and so on. They were not so much my brother’s cup of tea. Not always mine either but my father and I were closer. And so when we were riding in the car he talked to me about his life and his profession. He loved medicine and his desire to be a part of it drew him out of that deep rural Mississippi poverty.

What I Learned

Rummaging around in these past decades I had to recognize that my memory has become a little hazy but a couple of things were clear. In spite of his love of medicine, my father had deep reservations concerning routine practice. I came away with a fundamental dictum. “Question Everything.” He saw a lot of what he felt was malpractice or at least incompetence and when he struck down to the core he felt the greatest tool he had in his practice was not his surgical skill but his bedside manner. He mobilized his patients through hope and belief along with the success of his skills.

It made me understand that my acceptance of medical alternatives was rooted in what he conveyed to me. And allied with it was the notion of questioning everything. Question routine practice, question routine belief, question medical alternatives. Question, assess, test and then maybe accept.

In those days alternative medicine was not widely embraced so I can’t say where he would have stood but I suspect he would have taken some of it in.

The Outcome

So I’m going to go on a tour of what I found from this position. And, bottom line, I find I’m often angry and disappointed. Folded into the other topics in this blog will be health related issues. Just to mention a few. Health care realities. Diagnosis and reality. The travesty of mental illness. PTSD and our veterans. Responding to family crises. Medication and Big Pharma. Taking personal responsibility. Poverty and functional disability. The complexity of drug abuse. And then we’ll see.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

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