The American attitude towards healthcare leans heavily towards pharmaceuticals. Much of what ails us might be mitigated by nutrition, supplements, exercise or physical treatments. But we tend to prioritize a “one and done” approach that lends itself to prescriptions for any ailment you can pinpoint. It’s not unusual to be on upwards of ten pills a day if you are chronically ill each one treating a distinct symptom. You mostly pray they don’t have any interactions and that the cure isn’t worse than the disease especially when it comes to drugs like opioids that can form dependencies.
I’m not entirely opposed to this approach if I’m being honest. A wholistic approach is a lot of work and when you are sick having the energy to do a bunch of shit is unrealistic. Even as I’m rounding the corner on controlling my autoimmune disease I still find it time consuming and often exhausting to manage all aspects of my health. The meal planning, the physical therapy, the body work, the exercise protocols, the sleep regimens, the supplement routines (mine easily costs upwards of $500 a month and no it’s not covered by insurance) and the nonstop recording and monitoring is practically a full time job. And you can’t even tell if it’s working half the time with crashes and system cascades that require heavy duty intervention. It’s hard to spot signal in the noise but that doesn’t mean it’s not there
Being sick in America feels surprisingly similar to being a startup founder. You get dismissed constantly. The workload rarely relents. And progress is only visible if you are diligent about monitoring core metrics that might reveal a trend line. It’s no wonder that entrepreneurs can be avid biohackers. We record and measure and monitor and hope that some higher authority (a physician or a venture capitalist) will spot the the key inflection point that may change our lives.
I have over 1,000 recorded data points just on my usage of pain medications and it’s correlation to my functionality. Despite my meticulous tracking and my adherence to protocols, I regularly have encounters with medical professionals that discount what I have to say. Like a founder I may be an expert on my “startup” but a physician or other expert has a lot more longitudinal data. The question ends up being do you as the operator (or the patient) have some insight the professionals do not? Honestly it’s hard to tell. Being wrong is pretty common. Doctors and venture capitalists know this. So do you as the patient or founder. Trust in these interactions can be low because of this.
Unlike with a company where you can walk away, being a patient means you are stuck with it. I have to work through the blocks as if I don’t I’m resigning myself to a life of illness. Which isn’t to say I can’t tolerate being ill and disabled, merely that I don’t believe that “this is as good as it gets.” I’m happy with my life but I do believe it’s within my control to do and be more.
For me this has meant juggling the pharmaceuticals that control symptoms but don’t heal me alongside an elaborate functional medicine and biohacking routine. I think of these drug for symptom regimens a cash flow business that can do well but will always remain the business that it is without a creative owner pushing for more.
I don’t want to just run my “business” even if it might be a self sustaining one. I’m at a point where yeah I can live like this for the rest of my life. But I want more than having a store or a service. So I test. And I experiment. And I throw tons of time after protocols and treatments that may be woo or bullshit. Or they may in fact be the turning point that lets me be more. And if it is then it’s all worth it. Much of what I’ve done has been worth it. But how the fuck do you determine that in a system that has so little interest beyond simple solutions like a pill? If I had the answer I’d tell you. Until I do I’m spending my time on machines that shoot electromagnetic pulses into my spine and glugging down micronutrient slurries. I hope the hacks turn into sustainable growth channels. But I could have just waisted a few hours on nothing. Until then I’ll record the data and hope the trend line reveals something.