Hospital Food

So last week I was at my local hospital rehab ward to observe occupational therapy for several days (occupational therapy is my next course of study and, I promise, the last degree I’ll collect before I turn 30. I need to make more money.). Folks who have suffered strokes, folks who’ve had heart attacks, amputees, folks who’ve been shot or endured devastating accidents, these individuals constitute the population of this inpatient ward. This private non-profit hospital is among the more progressive and well-endowed in the NYC metro area. The staff seem respected and happy, from the physical and occupational therapists to the practical nurses, from the food servers to the social workers.

The hospital food orders can be restricted for patients with cardiac conditions, limiting them to low-fat/low cholesterol options. And one could get some fresh fruits with his or her requests. Vegetarian meals were also options. The food offerings were conventional, but not of the lowest standard, and there was room for customization on the part of the savvy patient.

Nonetheless, I want to assert that many conditions suffered by these patients were ultimately caused by diet. Smokers and heavy meat-eaters, given their stated conditions and diets, abounded in this population, especially amongst stroke and cardiac patients. Diet is the first medicine. It begins at youth. Bad medicine across a lifetime leads to an undesirable outcome, it was overwhelmingly clear to me after my observation of who tends to wind up needing these sorts of therapies.

Healthy food, physical culture (primal and vigorous exercise and play), adequate sleep, healthy relationships and vocations, sunshine, rest, hopefully some love – these are the original therapies. If the whole population ate brilliantly and lived vigorously (but safely and sanely), physicians and allied health professionals like me, even those in alternative medicine disciplines, would be damn near out of business. For real. If we are honest, many of our professions are created by the need to mitigate negative lifestyle choices only. Nutritionists, for example (just one of many disciplines to critique) are not really necessary but to the nutritionally clueless, obese client who can afford one, who will tell the client what to eat and why. But common sense says we should eat natural fresh fruits and vegetables, as much as we need, and then relax. Hell, personal trainers – a profession I’ve been trained in – don’t really need to exist but for an adult population that has completely forgotten how to move and play to stay naturally healthy. Another thing I’ve been trained in, massage therapy, is unnecessary for those who have great friends and/ or lovers who can share affection and apply pressure to pain and aches maturely and effectively.

If the population moved towards health and sanity, no need for many of us healthcare peoples. We’d need retraining for some other profession, those that actually produce and reproduce material needs in societies. I would actually prefer that the population did this. That would be the trend in a revolutionary society that knows about preventive medicine, social equality, pro-human values, harmony with nature, and so on.

But it’s not happening, in fact the trend goes backwards. Hence among the only stable and growing jobs in this recession continue to be those in healthcare.

Shouldn’t be. Preventive medicine is the best therapy. Love is the best drug. Healthy diet is the most profound lifelong pill. For me, healthy diet is of course this low-fat raw vegan road. Staying healthy is easy in this configuration. Eat fresh clean raw plants when you’re hungry. Then relax and do other things like positive, life-affirming and creative work, coupled with vigorous and fun play, and completed by welcome and relaxing sleep.

Stay healthy, so you don’t have to even deal with the berserk capitalist anti-human monster euphemistically called our healthcare system in these united snakes. Complicated and clever ways to deal with the ordeal of medical billing for insurance was one of the main things everyone at this hospital was talking about.

Don’t make the world need more nurses, therapists and hospital food.

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