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  • Empowering the individual to take responsibility for their own health

    If there was one thing that I'm grateful for it's my good health (touch wood). A luxury that I know with certainty I can attribute to many small (and by themselves inconsequential) actions on my part. In summary, it's been a deliberate exploration into what make me me and how I can best serve this vehicle that my consciousness inhabits. A symbiotic marriage between matter and intent.

    If I'm careful, I may just be able to leave you with a slightly broader perspective of your individual responsibility towards your health. If I'm not, you'll probably think I'm some whackjob with too much time on his hands. Either way, I'll share some of my thoughts on the state of health, healthcare, and my journey in discovering a path of my own.

    Disclaimer: I'm not a medical professional and this doesn't constitute medical advice. I may actually be insane so if you listen to anything that I have to say, it's your own fault. Always seek the help of a medical professional like your GP.

    The Australian healthcare reality

    I'd like to start off by saying that the Australian Healthcare system is overall mostly functional. It does a lot with a little, and for simple things it covers a significant portion of the population in an acceptable way.

    However, one of the consistent stories you'll hear regarding Australian healthcare is from a friend or colleague (or maybe it's you!) that is living with a largely untreatable condition. Usually nothing serious, but a significant impact on their quality of life nonetheless. They will have been through multiple rounds of referrals from several GPs in a chase to determine some textbook description that fits that persons ailment. After numerous pathology requests doctors will then say "there's nothing to worry about" while being weirdly protective of the actual quantitative results.

    Mostly doctors at this stage will label them with some broad "catch-all" condition (e.g. IBS), prescribe them something (that may or may not actually help) that causes a system in the body to down-regulate over time periodically increasing the dosages to stay ahead of the symptoms. Then... well it's Side-effect City. Sometimes — it all depends.

    An alternative view

    No. Not "alternative medicine". Medicine was once alternative medicine but we took the stuff that worked and removed the "alternative" part. I stand by that description wholeheartedly. What I'm talking about is individuals empowered to make individual decisions about their health.

    In Australia here are a quick 3 things that you can start doing today that can help you take charge of your own individual health:

    1. Order comprehensive private blood tests at least every 3 months

    These aren't free but they are absolutely essential in understanding what your markers looks like and what might be going on in your body. Stop letting a doctor infer the results for you and start to dig into what they each mean and how they can be interpreted. Check full bloods, MBA (multiple biochemistry analysis — this is the mostly kidney and liver function one), hormones, glucose, triglycerides and more. Take a deep dive into various inflammation markers like C-Reactive protein and others. I'm telling you. Doctors only scratch the surface.

    Also learn about how reference ranges are determined (hint: it's by taking a lot of results from a population and establishing averages, however this has huge issues when you take into account systemic health concerns ... obesity anyone?).

    I wont recommend specific companies here, but searching for "private blood tests Australia" will get you started. It's a lot easier than you expect. Worst case scenario you'll build up a back-catalogue of data that you can refer to when something changes unexpectedly in your results.

    2. Don't stay with the same GP if you aren't getting the help you need

    Doctors have a limited tool set, but sometimes you'll come across a doctor that has a particular interest in what ails you. This can be highly rewarding. Don't feel the need to stick around with the same doctor that continues to prescribe NSAIDs despite them making it impossible to eat for the following 2 days.

    3. Take an invested interested in researching what medicines could potentially help you and what you want to try

    Some doctors are willing to work with suggestions if you have a particular path you'd like to take. Maybe it's an anecdote or perhaps it's something that you've researched that you feel might be helpful. Actually talk to your doctor about trying specific medications.