Dear America, You’re Breaking my Heart.

When I was a little boy, my father built for me the biggest sand-box of the entire neighborhood.  I mean it was BIG!  And lots of friends came to my back yard.

There at kindergarten age I began to be aware of hurts more than just my own.  In addition to my own scuffs and cuts, I began to bring my friends’ injuries to my mother’s kitchen door for healing.  When such activity threatened to overwhelm her budget for store-bought brand Bandaids, she taught me the basics of wound care:  Wash it, apply antiseptic, make bandage of tape & tissue paper.  It worked. My friends and I healed.  The seeds of caring were sown.

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Now I’m old enough that my knees may be unforgiving of the sand-box environment.  And the innocent heart which brought my friends to my mother’s door has been battered and scarred.  Granted, some of the scars are from wounds of my own carelessness or rebellion, but many of the wounds in my heart are from coming into the pain of others.  It wouldn’t seem so bad if my attempts at participating in intervention were rewarded with the healing that so readily occurred with the scraped knees of childhood. But instead, the revolving door of the ER brings a continual flood of sickness and misery; in the face of which I often feel powerless.

The problem is that I still care.

There are approximately 1 million, 612 thousand Registered Nurses working in the hospitals of America. Another 988 thousand Registered Nurses work in other settings. In addition there are approximately 800 thousand LPNs and untold numbers of CNAs and other unlicensed support personnel.   In spite of our efforts, the influx of sick and miserable people is never-ending.  Thanks to a milieu of factors over the years, we nurses now spend approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of our time proving to government regulators that we take care of the ill and injured.  Only the remainder of our time is available to actually do the planning and interventions of your care.  In fact, most all hospitals have nurses whose practice involves ZERO patient care and focuses ONLY on meeting regulatory requirements.   It is unlikely that the regulatory environment will ease its pressures on my profession.  And if you, Dear America, continue without consideration of how your life decisions affect your health and healthcare,  there won’t be enough of us to even put on Bandaids.

You have a body that is made with healing mechanisms.  The moment a cut occurs, the blood begins to set up the repair.  The moment a cold virus kicks out a copy from its process of wrapping its RNA into one of your nose cells, your immune system kicks into high gear.  When the hand-germs incubated in that left-over pizza begin to replicate in your gut, the digestive system may either put its mobility into reverse to expel the offensive agent from whence it came, or go into over-drive to flush things through in a hurry.

The cut yields pain and blood is messy.  The swollen nasal passages feel awful. Gastrointestinal disturbances are, well, disturbing!  But these are not disease.   Disease is, among other things,  the infiltration of bacteria and viruses into places they don’t belong.  Injury is the physical re-arrangement of body tissue or bone.   Most of that for which we seek a doctor’s attention are the symptoms of the healing processes!   The reported percentages of various problems that “heal on their own” will vary depending on what study or article you read. More than once I’ve heard Family Practice physicians estimate that approximately 70% of what comes through the office door heals up without regard to the physician’s intervention.  (A problem on a parallel track is that reducing symptoms  often delays the actual healing.  But that will wait for another post.)

Dear America, if you would simply seek nutrition instead of just taste, learn to listen to your body, and trust the fact that your healing mechanisms are as much a part of being human as having an opposing thumb,  you could stop breaking my heart for all the misery you are carrying.  Let the healthcare systems function optimally for the things which require intervention. Stop the over-use of interventions so that resources are available when you or your community really need them.  Be unafraid.  Pay attention to the feeding of body and soul.  Learn to live and heal.

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Stay tuned with LifeBidder for simple, effective ways to self-manage your healthcare.   “The Belly-Button Guide to Self-Managed Healthcare”  is under construction!

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14 thoughts on “Dear America, You’re Breaking my Heart.

    • Thank you Rachel! Yes- I guess the endeavors are a bit related, at least in the matter of trying to convince some folks that engagement of the process will favorably alter the outcome.

  1. Wish to say that I am very excited to see this site! We have shared a ton of vision together and I stand with you in your mission. You have made the info on this site very easy to understand and yet I can see the complex problem that we have in this world with our health care. Please keep sharing your heart and “life lessons” with us. Hope to see you soon and come to a event of yours.


    • Thanks Jess! You’ve heard my heart on these things for quite a few years. Figuring out how to begin is taking a lot of soul-searching, some business-development learning, and a lot of encouragement from my better-half. Thanks for the affirmation. I hope you’ll stay as a regular reader and pass along the connection if you find things from which others may benefit.

  2. This is a wonderful website, my dear brother! Thanks for the energy and courage you put into this venture, and we cheerfully urge you on in the creation of that “Belly-Button Guide…”! I think most of the time when hurting people show up at the ER or the Doctor’s offices, etc., it is because they really need a “Mommy” to bring their hurts to, friends to share the hurts with, and “attention bandaids” to support them and the healing process you speak of. I used to wonder “Where are all the grown-ups?” and then began to see that the grown-up is in every child and the child is in every grown-up, and most times we just don’t undertand that. Where else in our world can hurting people go when they are at the end of their rope physically, in pain and feeling fear? I believe that the work you are doing in your writing and living is part of helping some people who are looking, and there will be a good ripple effect come from it. I encourage you and Diane to keep working together on this, and be willing to share the “Mommy and Daddy” part of yourselves that so many people long for….and also, it is OK to be the “little one” we all have inside who needs to ask for help. I learned that again this week as I accessed the monitoring care of the nurse at our little clinic on the Reserve to help guide and encourage me in better care of blood pressure issues. Just kind questions in a short time, and some structure, is setting me on a better path, more self-empowered to take responsibility without dependancy and shame. It is that kind of encouragement and “band-aid” that will keep me healthy!

    • Annie – yes– Kind questions, timely, focused / structured… compassion… relating to the child in all of us. A well-known Jewish Rabbi a little over 1900 years ago had some very pointed things to say about welcoming the little children. There-in lies the paradigm for interactions of healing: the absolute absence of disdain, the constant presence of love and regard; just like Jesus of Nazareth demonstrated. I trust that in due time some people will find ways to obtain or develop what they need through as a functional alternative to hospital or clinic visits. Hope, trust, and practicality are our tools!
      Thanks for joining the conversations here.

  3. Amen to all you said, Marty. I am one of the hospital RN’s who works float pool. I spend at least 1/3 of my time in the ER seeing patients with nausea and vomiting, abdominal and chest pain (often diagnosed as GERD) and fevers. We do get the occasional sepsis, MI or CVA but often as you pointed out, our pts are there to manage symptoms. So many unneeded prescriptions are written for antibiotics and then we wonder why everyone has MRSA. I wholeheartedly agree with the need to return to good nutrition, but that is surely not the emphasis in America. Thanks for a great article. I’ll be back to see what else you have to say!

    • Welcome Susan to ! Those who pay for all those non-needed tests and interventions recognize there’s a problem, but few effective solutions exist. is the beginning of a different approach: trust the already-built-in healing capacities and use simple, even home-made remedies that help the healing instead of just mask the symptoms. No , I’m not against symptomatic relief; there’s just better gain in seeking the healing. Welcome to the conversation! If you care to pass it on by inviting your friends and contacts I’d be grateful.

  4. Commentary on how we care for our ailing children would have to include how we deal with feelings of peer pressure, inadequacy, etc.

    • Yes Lizzie Ann, it does get complex. You and Marina are opening up a chapter not-yet-written, and I am grateful for the advance prodding! One approach to posts here on LifeBidder would be to alternate between relationship-focused content and physical health-focused content, but as you aptly point out the two so often intertwine.

    • Certainly will, Marina. I have to reign myself in on the website, lest I publish an entire chapter of the upcoming “Belly-Button Guide…” But yes- there’s a whole bunch to deal with in the realm of what and how to treat for our children. And that gets complicated by a parent’s general unwillingness to see the child suffer… and then we dive into the difference between pain and suffering… Stay tuned! It will show up here, maybe soon!

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