Archive for November, 2010

How do you know when there is something wrong with your health? Are you suddenly struck by a doctor’s diagnosis? I get the sense that people plug along on auto-pilot and then suddenly get blind-sided by a lab test or x-ray result.

We recently had the freezer thermostat replaced in our kitchen refrigerator. We noticed that the refrigerator wasn’t as cold as it had been. As I called to find a repair person, I was struck by the not-so-helpful operator on the 800 Amana customer service line. After the model number and serial number questions, there were questions like: “have you stacked the food in front of the fan?” and “did you just buy groceries?” As you can imagine, since this was the week before the Thanksgiving holiday, the answer to both questions was yes. When I assured her that I could tell that this was NOT just the refrigerator coming into balance after a shopping trip, that I could tell the refrigerator was not working correctly, she reluctantly offered an appointment the next day. I was put off by her doubts and reluctant to lose several hundred dollars of food, so I declined the appointment and ultimately found a local person that diagnosed the problem and fixed it the same day.

My point is that our body gives us lots of warning signs and messages. Sometimes the messages are the four cardinal signs of inflammation from the ancient writings of Celsus (30 BCE – 38 AD) with the latin words dolor (pain), calor (heat) rubor (redness) and tumor (swelling) that were augmented by Galen (129 – 200 AD), who added the fifth sign functio laesa (loss of function). And sometimes we just recognize a gradual shift in energy or mood or stamina.

Like any conversation, we don’t know there is an issue unless we listen. Just stop and listen. A quiet room, a comfortable chair or bed and an inner inventory from head to toe…what do you hear? What is different? What has shifted?

And then with whom do you share what you’ve learned? Is it a not-so-helpful professional like the Amana customer service operator? Do they cause you to doubt in your awareness and sense of your own body? Do they have time to listen to what you are saying?

Moments of sanity occasionally surface in news reports. I was pleased to see the recent “news of the week” in this week’s  Chemical and Engineering News (November 8, 2010), a weekly publication from the American Chemical Society. Federal attorneys reversed decades of government policy by claiming that genes – human and others – should not be eligible for patent protection because they are products of nature. Attorneys at the Department of Justice stated, “The U.S. has concluded that isolated but otherwise unaltered genomic DNA is not patent-eligible subject matter.”
Does that sound obvious? Did you realize that for the last two decades companies have been seeking and receiving patent protection for uncovering the gene “fingerprint” of specific genes? Technology has advanced to the point that the human genome has been completely mapped. The numbers are changing all the time, but we now know that there are roughly 30,000 genes in each of our cells. We have a vague idea of the function of about half of the genes. Company lawyers and DNA chemists have been racing to place their own rights on the genes as their intellectual property.
Can we find the balance between market pressures on companies to survive and our “rights” to our own DNA?

The psalmist said it in Psalm 139 verses 13 and 14 (NIV) For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

I guess that says it all for me….