I rang in the New Year with severe food poisoning followed by an ass-kicking upper respiratory infection, which gave me time to think about my word for the year: Plenty.
Though I’m rarely sick, I have gained a whole new appreciation for health. As I was navigating my options for care, I found myself caught between two worlds: allopathic medicine, which my insurance covers after a hefty deductible, and alternative medicine which I much prefer, yet have to pay for out of pocket.
It got me thinking… How often do we make medical choices — whether for tests, exams or treatment — using money as a top deciding factor.
How much sooner would I seek attention having plenty of healthcare, plenty of the care I prefer such as acupuncture, massage, and naturopathy?
Plenty wouldn’t mean I’m getting massages three times a week. Plenty of health care for me means I’d go when I get that first nudge from my body “Something’s off-kilter. Support requested!” without having to consider “Can I afford this right now?” or putting it off until my body is yelling at me.
Plenty of healthcare means I could focus on prevention and maintenance. That my care providers have the time with me that they need to really know me— an ample amount of time rather than a prescribed 5-10 minute window to greet-diagnose-prescribe.
Of course, plenty of healthcare also means having access to the best allopathic resources and people available should I need them. I just finished watching The Big C on Showtime, one of the “perks” of being home sick for two weeks — I found myself asking, trying to imagine, “How would I handle a cancer diagnosis?”
What if I didn’t have plenty of money to choose the type of treatment I wanted? What if my financial situation meant that I had to scrutinize every recommended lab, exam, or scan against my bank account balance? At the same time, I might become a much better patient and consumer by asking questions — “What is that test for?” “How much will it cost?” “What information will it give us and how would that change the course of treatment?” Plenty of healthcare means an open dialogue and collaboration between my practitioner and me.
In my world of plenty I don’t see myself sitting on piles of gold or spending my days managing my enormous stock portfolio. Rather, it’s closer to what happened last week when a dear acupuncturist friend stopped by to give me a treatment in my living room. That felt like plenty. It was support, nurturance, and community all at once. I felt rich and loved.
While I may not always be able to have generous friends show up to tend to me, it helps me to focus on what matters.
A friend bringing chicken noodle soup is plenty. My partner standing over me as I throw up again, and lovingly caring for me as I recover— is plenty. My dog curled up, warm and comforting, not leaving my side for days on end… is plenty.
What is plenty for you? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.