Things that make you say Hmmm...

by Justin J. January 06, 1995

WARNING: The following is my own opinion and does not reflect the opinions of any publisher, doctor or the man who is holding the gun to my head and demanding ranson. As my dear old Dad used to say, "opinions are like ass-holes, everyone has one." So now, as I unbutton my 501's and drop my designer bikini briefs, you may now view one of my opinions :-)

I have been asked by a number of people to put together an alternative reading list of books pertaining to hiv and aids. This is by no means an all inclusive bibliography, but comes from my own personal library, gathered over the years.

My mother worked in the medical field for over 30 years, mostly in nursing/administration, and has commented about how we all looked up to medical practitioners as "larger than life", almost assigning demi-god statuses to them, "the great and powerful OZ has spoken, take two of these and call me in the morning." To quote a man I once knew in an hiv rap group, "we look to the doctor to perform the procedure, we look to the doctor to prescribe the medicine, we look to the doctor to fix the problem." This of course puts the patient in a purely "passive" role, a spectator in his or her own recovery. To quote the same man, "90% of illness is in the head and in the heart, as a man thinketh, so he is." I do not mean to down play the seriousness of some conditions such as aids or cancer, but too many medical people are trigger happy to pass a death sentence on the patient in such cases. In 1985 I was told that I should get my personal affairs in order SOON. During this period I gave away, sold, burned and trashed about 75% of my personal belongings in anticipation of a certain death.

Today my own mother has her reservations about the omnipotence of Western medicine. There are good doctors and bad, some are Democratic in their relationship to patients, others are autocrats, "here take this and don't ask any questions!" You might want to think of your health care provider as your employee, after all, you and/or your in- surance carrier pay them for services rendered. You must become a partner in the decision making process that ultimately will affect the outcome of your health.

I carry this reasoning forward from my experiences with various church denominations. I am also a Christian, or person who believes that Jesus is the son of God, who dropped in for a while to set the record straight with mankind. I fumble and stumble around, in an attempt to follow his teachings (not an easy task in a world such as ours). There are good churches and bad, true Christian leaders and not so true. I extend the same analytical processes to finding a good congregation as I do in locating suitable health care provider. There are many good resources out there (books) on the subject of what makes a good Christian, just as there are on the subject of medical pract- itioners and procedures. This article will deal with books on hiv and aids. I will deal with the spiritual dimension of hiv in another forthcoming article.

Western medical practitioners do not have the market cornered on lunacy and greed. I have seen just as many holistic and alternative procedures marketed as panaceas. Many smell of snake oil remedies, just another way to turn a quick profit from the frightened and des- perate. Jesus Christ himself warmed his followers to use their heads and exercise discernment. Trouble is we ARE like sheep, or is it lemmings? Blow in my ear and I'll follow you anywhere. How many count- less people have followed a religious leader, only to find themselves slaves in some cult. This almost happened to me in my own spiritual quest, skepticism and doubts saved my ragged butt on more than one occasion here. Some doctors have gotten quite irate over my terms, "well let me research this and I'll let you know soon how I feel about that <procedure/drug/test>." If there are two equally valid procedures, one costing $100, the other $1,500, a good doctor will opt first for the less costly or invasive procedure. I have talked to too many people who got corralled into the $1,500 procedure first.