My favorite female columnist is at it again. In a column titled The Self-Repairing Body (Here) she tells us of a visit she and her husband, who has a chronic and often debilitating back problem, made to a chiropractor. The doctor explained that he does not heal anyone. He tries to figure out what is preventing the body from healing itself so that the obstacle can be removed and the body get on with the healing process. She asserts, "The body wants to heal itself."
What she means is that, if there is nothing the block it, the body tends to restore itself when something is wrong, because the natural tendency of the body is toward self healing. She cites as examples that the body has cells that seek out and destroy cancer, fight infections, heal cuts, and absorb bruises. Less plausibly she says that the body keeps our arteries open (which may be true if one has the right amounts and ratio of good and bad cholesterol). It is true that the body is an amazingly resilient organism. It does recover. Sometimes doing something does more harm than good, and not infrequently the body will get well on its own (as for instance when you suffer a cold). But that's not the whole story.
Instructed by the chiropractor in the body's healing powers, our columnist seems to ignore the fall, which has brought upon the human race pain in childbearing, thorns and thistles in the fields, and death. The truth is that the body suffers from entropy like the rest of creation. Its stronger tendency is toward death. St. Paul, who knew something about a battered body and a chronic ailment (his "thorn in the flesh"), described his own experience: "Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16).
The reality is that many of us would have been dead a long time ago were it not for intervention to stop the body from doing what the body wants to do. I cite myself. Antibiotics which apparently are over-prescribed nevertheless have prevented some bacteria from doing to me what they wanted and my body was allowing. I have taken medicines to control my blood pressure since I was in my 20's, and without those I very possibly would have experienced kidney failure, stroke, or death. After several cases of acute diverticulitis and one hospitalization in less than a year, a surgeon cut out part of my colon, and I have not had another attack (of that) in more than 22 years (would be knocking on wood if I did not believe in God). I could go on, but this is already TMI.
These medical interferences have kept my body from doing what it was tending to do - kill me. Today we are living much longer than our ancestors did mainly because of two things that come in for abuse by those who favor "nature": (1) a safer, more abundant food supply than our forefathers could have foreseen and (2) discoveries of and access to scientific medical care which has improved both the quality and duration of our lives in ways unimaginable to previous generations. Without these things, we well might be dead.
When we suffer from chronic pain and life-threatening illnesses, we want cures so we can live better and longer. When "traditional" approaches don't give the results we want, we seek out alternatives. I understand that. I don't know what I would do, if scientific medicine did not provide the cure or improvement I want - particularly from debilitating and/or fatal illness.
However, the truth is that we are all going die and, in the time between our now and our then, we are going to experience pain and sickness. There is going to be no complete and irreversible healing short of the resurrection. In the interim our best hope of curing or mitigating either or both is found by suffering many things at the hands of the scientific physicians.
Some may think what is needed is for me to get an attitude adjustment of the sort Hank, Jr. sings about (Listen). I do have a head that is harder than most. But, I don't think so. What we need is a reality check. Our columnist reminds us that humility is acknowledging reality, and she believes this is what the practitioner demonstrates in saying he does not heal anyone because the body will do that for itself if nothing interferes. But this not comport with reality. And there's the problem. This alternative reality is both unrealistic and dangerous.
About a year ago at the urging of my wife I got my hearing checked. It turned out that I had an uneven loss of hearing. Not only did I have a problem with volume; I also had a big problem the clarity with which I heard in my left ear. This led to suspicion of the possibility of an auditory tumor which in turn led to a brain scan. I am thankful they found no evidence tumor (they said nothing about evidence of my having a brain). But I am left with a problem that frustrates me and others. A hearing aid would increase volume but not my ability to distinguish sounds. No practitioner of alternative medicine is going to find out what is keeping my body from restoring my hearing. What my body wants to do is to make me deaf.
I hope that there may yet be something scientific medicine can do that will improve my hearing. In the meantime please speak into my right ear. And forgive me when you detect that I am faking hearing you. That's reality.