Saturday, November 20, 2010

Unexpected metaphors; new (old) therapies

Got into a bit of a snit with a friend of mine the other day. The basis of the snit was, in essence, "I said X" (friend) "Well, I heard Y" (me). I haven't quite figured out how to tell him that others in attendance corroborate my take on the discussion, not his... but the reason I bring it up is that it really does illustrate the MS experience. Something sends signal X, something receives signal Y; and if there's a "fault" to be assigned within the process, it's data corruption, not sender-not-articulating-properly or listener-not-listening properly.

Of course, I don't know if my friend will see it that way, but that's the story I'm sticking to. "Let's blame it on the noisy room" rather than "You didn't explain yourself properly, even if you think you did." Also has the advantage of perhaps being accurate; which also fits the MS metaphor, doesn't it? The Vorlons (in Babylon 5) said that "Understanding is a three-edged sword;" there's your side, my side, and the truth.

On the treatment front, I got a new formula from my new herbalist. He explained it as having three functions: clear out viral/bacterial-infection nonsense that's making my immune system go into overdrive and chew on my nervous system, directly calm my immune system, and rebuild the nervous system. Every ingredient in the mix isn't a single chemical, it's a plant. Interstingly enough, this Andrew Weil in his regular Huffington Post column lauded the superiority of complex-of-chemicals plants over single-chemical pharmaceuticals.

This kind of approach is impossible to mass-market. My formula was created for me, not for the generic MS patient. (Like such people even exist.) This kind of approach requires the healer to pay attention to my specific expression of the MS experience, and even though he has been working with people with similar disease processes for thirty years, none of his other patients have my needs, my challenges, my requirements. You can't just say "try one of these four drugs, statistics suggest that many people similar to you (we think) get some symptom reduction, sometimes. We think." My current formula is for me, to address what's happening to me right now.

How does he know it'll work? Experience, training, and the collected knowledge of five thousand years of Chinese herbal medicine. Does it always work? No, but if it misfires he adjusts the formula and, usually, it starts working.

How do you know whether [insert Big MS Chemical here] will work? Statistics tell you that it works for the aggregate, but for you? You don't know. You can't know. No one can know, it's mathematically provable to be unknowable.

And I don't get side effects. Any. Ever.

In the meantime, because I'm surrounded by medical care givers who are giving me custom care, I notice that I'm changing my approach to my students. I really, really personalize their care. I know where to start answering their questions, but I go immediately to a completely custom answer. For the person who's asking me their question, today.

And, really, the way my caregivers approach me, and the way I approach my students: a completely, 100% custom approach.

And the downside this approach, for my own care and the care of my students, rather than using the "everyone is the same, one remedy answers all problems according to this bell curve" is... ... ... ?


1 comment:

Muffie said...

Robert, I'm so impressed with the ideas of your herbalist! Plus -- I'm such a firm proponent of differentiated instruction, that it was the focus of my doctoral dissertation! As a principal, I urged teachers to try it and see how much it improved learning. I'm so pleased to see teachers like you really getting it! Thanks for your posts -- I really enjoy them.