Designed by nature
“The marvelous pharmacy that was designed by nature and placed into our being by the universal architect produces most of the medicines we need.” — Norman Cousins
One of the first things I did after Jeff got his stage IV cancer diagnosis was request that he read a book first published in 1979: Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration by Norman Cousins. I read this book decades ago, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that it has been one of the biggest influences in my life. In fact, it may be indirectly responsible for my decision to start this blog.
Cousins’ work, which has become a classic, deals with a variety of interesting considerations regarding health care and how we view disease. I read the book long before I could have known how much of my life would be consumed with visiting doctors, staying in hospitals and otherwise managing the medical aspects of our younger son’s disabilities. While none of the details of Cousins’ devastating diagnosis are related to Matt’s genetic condition or Jeff’s recent challenges, the underlying message of patient responsibility and empowerment has been crucial in navigating the often intimidating journey through serious and chronic illness.
Today it is not uncommon to find physicians and other medical professionals discussing and acknowledging the powerful medicinal benefits of such factors as creativity, laughter, holistic healing, and the placebo effect. It was far less common when Cousins set out on his own largely self-designed and non-traditional path for battling his illness, emerging victorious and lighting the way for countless others to follow.
Today I hope we will resolve to work in harmony with the many providers and natural paths to wellness that are available to all of us. If we tap into the amazing, God-given powers of mental, emotional and spiritual health to improve our physical health, we can greatly decrease our suffering and improve our quality of life, however long or short our time on earth may be.