Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What Signals Are You Getting?

You are driving down the road when you begin to notice that noise again.  Some kind of grating-chopping sound is coming from under the hood of your car and you pray it goes away before you have to actually DO something about it.  Maybe it’s just a “fluke”.  Maybe it will go away when you turn off of this road and onto another.  You forge ahead and hope for the best.

Within a few weeks the noise has become so persistent that you can no longer ignore it.  Others comment on it while riding in your car with you, “Are you sure this is OK?  Should you get this checked out?”  Finally you acquiesce, book an appointment with your mechanic and keep your fingers crossed, hoping that the news isn’t too bad.

The mechanic takes a look at your car.  He listens to the engine and performs an exam under the hood.  Scratching the back of his neck with a worried expression on his face he approaches you with the verdict:  it appears that your car IS making a noise - a loud noise, at that.  He reassures you that this is not uncommon – citing the increasingly high numbers of noisy cars he’s been seeing at his shop lately, and tells you that he knows just what to do for this particular condition.  Confidently whipping out his pad of paper, he writes down the remedy for your car:  a nice new loud stereo with surround sound and a sub-woofer.  Installing this, he tells you, will definitely fix the sound problem your car is having.  Relieved that the cure is not more involved than installing a new stereo, you head to the closest supplier and pick out the recommended stereo, have it installed and go on your way.

A week or so later, you notice that perhaps this ingenious cure is not working.  Now, instead of hearing an odd noise when you operate your car (since you’ve been diligently playing your stereo as prescribed), you have begun to smell something burning.  Irritated, you head back to see your mechanic.  Upon examination of your vehicle, your mechanic produces yet another miraculous fix:  a couple dozen air-fresheners to strategically place throughout your car.  And not long after that, once your engine has begun to spew smoke, you are given a nice pair of dark glasses to wear while driving, so everything looks dark and smoky anyway…

Many of us would never dream of taking that kind of advice from a mechanic when it comes to the up-keep and repairs of our cars.  We would insist that there must be something causing the unusual sound, and would want to get to the root of it before something really serious happens that will prevent your car from running at all.  The sound is not the problem.  It is a symptom of the problem.  It is the way our car lets us know that something is not working correctly.  When our vehicles are working correctly, they don’t sound unusual and if our mechanic were to try to simply cover up the sound we would not be fooled into thinking the car had been fixed.  Yet this is exactly what happens when there is an unusual signal coming from our own bodies.  These unusual signals might be eczema or other rashes, pain, acid reflux or other digestive problems, wheezing, insomnia or even depression, just to name a few.  Too often, we readily accept a pill for these conditions to covering up the “sound” and are content to ignore the need to look deeper to find what is causing this abnormality in the first place.  Like our cars, our bodies are meant to run smoothly without those pesky noises.  Also like our cars, when they are not running smoothly it’s an indication that something is definitely wrong.

A noisy car engine is no more indicative of a deficient car stereo than on-going pain is indicative of an ibuprofen deficiency, or eczema is indicative of our skin not producing its own cortisone.  We must ask ourselves what is causing these signals in the first place and attempt to fix that primary condition in order for the “noise” to stop.

Every winter my husband would get eczema on the back of his hands and in the crook of his arms.  It would start out like a patch of dry skin and then become red and itchy, lasting until spring.  He tried over-the-counter and prescription creams without success.  We already were not using laundry products with fragrances or dyes.  His soap was for “sensitive skin”.  This eczema, he reasoned, was “just the way I am” and believed it to be something he must simply endure, year after year. 

A year and a half ago, while addressing a different “signal” his body was sending him (he does, after all, live with a health counselor) by eliminating dairy, my husband realized that his eczema had not returned with the winter that year.  It wasn’t until we were a month or two into cold weather that he realized that he no longer had it.  This past winter he was eczema-free as well.  For some reason, dairy is not an agreeable food for my husband.  He could rub creams on it by the gallons and he might be able to find some smidgen of relief, yet he would not be getting to the root of the problem.  The way David’s body conveyed the fact that there was a problem was through eczema, but eczema was not THE problem.  THE problem was his incompatibility with diary.  Who knows what other problems dairy was causing to his body that we couldn’t see, or might not discover for years.  This was just one problem that we could see.  Other people might experience constant congestion or other allergy symptoms from consuming dairy or other offending foods.  Attempting to address the congestion or allergy symptoms without getting to the root of them won’t eliminate them but only mask them for a while.

Other conditions like chronic pain from fibromyalgia and on-going digestive disorders such as IBS or acid reflux have been fixed by many people from making dietary adjustments, leaving their victims no longer attempting to mask the “sounds” with medications equivalent to a louder stereo.

If you suffer from conditions that leave you treating the symptoms – like type-2 diabetes, acid reflux, IBS, fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome – consider getting to the root of the problem.  It might be that you simply need to alter your diet and these symptoms will subside.  Is it really worth risking the ill effects of medications like GlaxoSmithKline’s Avandia – the diabetes drug that apparently has links to heart attacks (these results were covered up by the pharmaceutical company in order to make a buck on the ever-growing type-2 diabetes market) – as a FIRST response to conditions that have been proven to drastically improve, if not be reversed by making changes in diet and exercise?

 Consider that before purchasing your next “car stereo”.


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