Dr. Moshe Daniel Block, ND
Every one of us that has become aware of the failings of the conventional medical model has the understandable tendency to be highly critical of that model. There can be a lot of anger towards the conventional system because, as we all know, there are heaps of conflicts of interest and control over our health that the government and the pharmaceutical industry have no business enforcing over people. Where that anger is totally legitimate and also justified in light of the unwise and harmful practices of conventional medicine, that sort of mentality can be limiting in certain situations if we choose to alienate ourselves completely from conventional and allopathic medicine. In my course and book, Holistic Counseling – Introducing the Vis Dialogue, I deeply investigate the model of allopathic medicine in an honest and critical light because it truly is dwarfed by the powerful healing that is derived from the holistic model of healing. However, in a few recent experiences, I was humbled to recognize how the allopathic model, and even conventional medicine, can be of great service. I was shown how it has a time and a place that could even save one’s life under the right circumstances. For someone deeply entrenched in the idea that the conventional medical model is the only legitimate model of Medicine, this last statement would seem obvious and even understated. But when you’ve come to recognize how powerful, real, lasting, and honest the holistic model of medicine is, then recognition of the service that conventional medicine can play in certain specific times is a revelation.
Let me share with you a personal story of a situation that illustrates the need for flexibility in holistic idealism. Twenty years ago, I had symptoms of the autoimmune disease myasthenia gravis, and I was able to heal myself with true mind-body medicine by recognizing the root cause in my belief system and by releasing that, it led me to a full recovery of a supposedly incurable disease. This is the essence of Holistic Counseling – the Vis dialogue book and course. Early this winter, I experienced severe heavy metal toxicity which led to an extreme flare up of paralysis and other symptoms of the same autoimmune disease I was diagnosed with 20 years earlier. During this time my wife was pregnant. I was not relying on any form of allopathic or conventional medicine and was just focusing on detoxification and mind-body healing. The heavy metal toxicity I sustained was serious business, and the healing was coming very slow this time so that when my wife went into labor, I was still extremely weak and barely able to stand, not to mention walk around or be there for her. It was then that I experienced a great level of gratitude for the drug mestinon that was prescribed to me by a conventional medical doctor that I had acquired to have on hand in the case of an emergency. I took a dose of the medicine and I was able to rise and to be there with my wife as she went from the birthing bath to the bed and back and forth for many hours.
I was also able to accompany her in the ambulance when her birth process took a turn for the worse. Here was a very humbling and eye-opening experience for my wife as well as for me. Being a doula as well as a naturopath, my wife has held the idealistic view with her clients to have a very natural birth, with as little intervention as possible. And of course that’s what we all wanted, and that is what the midwives and the doula that were there to assist desired as well. But births don’t always go the way we want them to, and after my wife pushed for six long hours, it was clear that the baby was not coming. It turned out that the baby was in a very difficult position called Asynclitic, where her head was tilted toward her shoulder, and she was also posterior. This leads to very painful back labour for the mom, which is the worst kind of pain.
After six hours of excruciating pain and exhausting pushing, my wife had very little left and would have been forced to undergo a C-section had she not had the option for an epidural. The relief that came over her after she received the analgesic injections was monumental, and we looked at each other and recognized the blessing of having this sort of medicine on hand for these kinds of situations. I surmise that throughout the ages Asynclitic births have probably resulted in the death of many babies and mothers but with the epidural, as my wife’s body relaxed, the baby turned and she gave birth vaginally to a healthy baby girl. When that baby arrived I felt an enormous amount of gratitude for conventional medicine because without it I would not have been able to attend the birth of my baby and without it the birth may have ended with a C-section and possibly worse complications for my wife and the baby, which would have been devastating for us. We were lucky to have an amazing medical staff at the hospital and the doctor even let us keep the placenta attached for the Lotus birth we did with the baby. Keeping the placenta is illegal in Quebec so it was a kind of a miracle that we had a medical doctor that was not only open-minded and curious, but also flexible, kind, and gentle. This is not always the case, unfortunately, and there are many horror stories that I could tell you from hearing of my wife’s Doula experiences at the hospital where she has attended births. But not all medical doctors are created equal just as is the case with any other field. This experience has softened my heart and created more space for appreciation and acceptance of the role that conventional medicine plays in our society, even as I continue to teach about its limitations in the treatment of chronic illness.
I am writing this to all like-minded holistic people out there who are strong in their idealism as I have been. Sometimes life gets us down and out and we need something heroic in the moment to get past a hurdle or to support us in a very dark hour. The mestinon was that for me. The epidural was that for my wife. A severely depressed person could use a break sometimes and the antidepressant, whether herbal, supplemental, or pharmaceutical, can make the difference between life and death even for just for a day or two or up to a week. It can be the kind of reprieve needed to continue the deep diving and often painful work that comes with true holistic healing. Likewise somebody experiencing severe pain may need a rest from that pain in the form of some painkillers so that they can function properly at certain junctures in their life. There are limitations to Holistic Counseling and even homeopathy, of which allopathic and conventional medicine can help to relieve the slack while the obstacles and limitations are dealt with.
I am not suggesting that the allopathic approach or the conventional drugs are the method of choice in chronic illness. And before three days had passed, I was already experiencing the marked rebound weakness that I have also observed mestinon to equally affect my myasthenia gravis patients in my practice. I am suggesting that we have to keep an open mind when the suppression and control of symptoms is a good choice and possibly even the right choice. I, for one, will always honor and respect the role it plays in our society even as we evolve to the place where we need it much less.
Moshe Daniel Block, ND, HMC is the author of The Revolution of Naturopathic Medicine: Remaining True to Our Philosophy, a book about the philosophy and practice of naturopathic medicine. He graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (Toronto, Ontario) in 2000. Dr. Block then went on to complete the Homeopathic Master Clinician course with Louis Klein, FSHom, in 2003. He specializes in autoimmune illness and myasthenia gravis, a disease he was personally diagnosed as having and from which he has healed himself. He teaches the very wisdom and knowledge that helped him heal himself and others in his Holistic Counseling course for NDs, students, and other health care professionals. Some of the other projects Dr. Block has worked on can be found at his private practice website, his book website, and his global website.