Receiving a difficult medical diagnosis
A friend recently described the thought process she went through after being diagnosed with a serious medical condition. She felt like she was at a campground and was required to pitch her tent in one of 3 camps, but she couldn’t decide which one to choose. One was a Western Medicine camp, with pills and studies and tests. One was the Natural, Holistic camp, with kale smoothies and root extracts and ancient herbs. The other was the Jesus Healing camp, with prayer meetings and candles and lots of faith. She was overwhelmed and afraid, uncertain of what to do.
I think a lot of people interact with the 3 camps. Some live fully in one. Many people are very evangelical about their camp. I have heard a person praise a medicine that helped her, another person recommending a certain diet or warning against the dangers of a vaccine. Many also have stories of themselves or others being healed through the power of prayer.
Sometimes people confuse their faith in their camp with their faith in God. The truth is that each camp is sometimes right and each camp has serious problems, if living a long time in perfect health is your ultimate goal. Let me explain:
Camp 1: Western Medicine
Western Medicine is based on science. People do experiments to see if a new medicine works, by comparing outcomes of thousands of people taking the medicine with thousands of very similar people who think they are taking the medicine but are actually taking a placebo. Neither the researchers nor the patients know who has the real medicine until after the study is completed, and the outcomes have been recorded. I love this so much, because it tries to remove our psychology and our socioeconomics and other confounding factors and it tries to tell us the real truth. When it works, it is a very real, pure truth that is discovered. We can know exactly what will happen and what will not happen, pretty much every time. Advances in Western Medicine have extended the life expectancies of members of my own family by over 30 years in one generation because of cholesterol lowering medications. No one in my grandfather’s generation lived past 50 because they all had heart attacks; now my mom is 69 and heart-attack-free! No matter what we eat and how much we exercise, that genetic line has crazy cholesterol.
We all got to see the dark side of Western Medicine when Covid hit. All of a sudden, the word “science” was being thrown around to enforce political will. The CDC was basing recommendations off of anecdotal events in barber shops. The FDA did whatever the White House told it to do while senior scientists resigned in protest. Families were prohibited from saying good-bye to their dying loved ones. It was inhuman, cold, and the “science” was corrupted. Studies that editors didn’t like weren’t published, even if they were high quality research. Important voices were silenced. Doctors were punished by medical boards for dubious reasons. These things all distort that beautiful Truth that Western Medicine is supposed to be able to find. From my perspective on the ground, I have seen a huge uptick in distrust of Western Medicine over the past 3 years, but honestly there have been reasons for some mistrust throughout its entire history. The problem is, many people throw out the baby with the bathwater and don’t want anything to do with anything in Western Medicine. That is just silly. Western Medicine practically eradicated both smallpox and polio. It has found cures for pneumonia and very effective treatments for diabetes and HIV. There is not room in this essay for all of the good it has accomplished. It continues to contain many useful tools for supporting health.
Camp 2: Natural and Holistic
This camp is based on ancient wisdom. For thousands of years, people have discovered medicinal properties of various things in nature. I admit that I know the least about this topic, but I very much appreciate the enchantment. As a child, I loved walking through the forests in rural Oregon with my grandmother, who would stop and name every little plant and flower, and she knew which ones had special properties. The truth is, many Western medicines come from plants or minerals. The foxglove, a beautiful Oregon wildflower, is the source of Digitalis, a heart medication. Sennosides, an effective stimulant laxative, comes from senna plants, which are found along the banks of the Nile river in northern Africa. In addition, it is abundantly clear that patients who change their diets to include more fruits, vegetables, water, legumes, and whole grains, become healthier. God created the world full of little treasures for us to find.
The dark side of this camp is that there is a lot of… wishful thinking, placebo effects, imagination, psychological tricks, and straight up lies. Many of the products and treatments are not studied or regulated, people call themselves “doctor” or “healer” and claim that their oxygen, light, ozone, IV infusion, vitamin, mineral, herbal, crystal, electromagnetic field, hyperthermia, stem cell, phytochemical, cupping, needle, proton, or other mystical or pseudoscientific treatment will resolve medical problems. They are not held to any standard of proof that any of the treatments work and are safe. They also do not have to prove that their ozone is really ozone or that their glutathione is really glutathione. There is no penalty if they make things up. Again, we shouldn’t throw out babies with bathwater, but I don’t know how one finds trustworthy practitioners or effective treatments in a field where there is not an objective process to weed out coincidence or deception from truth.
Camp 3: Faith
This camp is by definition the most ethereal. It claims that God is almighty and good, and He might heal us if we ask him. Stories of God healing people, communities, and even the land are abundant in the Bible. Jesus’ second most common activity was healing people. Each healing was unique and many were recorded in great detail. Additionally, many people today have experienced what they would call miracles. Many doctors have seen patients make unexplained recoveries – tumors have disappeared, patients with devastating strokes have gotten up and walked out of the hospital. For me, it’s not so hard to believe that miracles happen, as I have seen them myself.
In fact, I believe the most thoroughly in this camp, but I am also wary of those who cling too exclusively to it. I have known patients who rely entirely on faith to heal them, and they refuse Western medical interventions that I know will help them. They see this as a badge of their faith, but I see it as unnecessary suffering. This is the dark side of this camp. There are also faith healers and pastors who promote this camp as an exclusive camp, suggesting that those who take medications are acting outside of God’s will. I see this most frequently with psychiatric treatments, but it can extend to cancer, blood pressure, liver disease, anywhere. The other caveat with this camp is the simple reality that God is sovereign, He doesn’t heal everyone we ask Him to heal, and death is not the end for God. Some people are healed and others are not healed. Ultimately, we don’t get to order God around; all we can do is ask.
The Healing Grove Way: An entirely different camp
Could there be another way? At Healing Grove Health Center, we try to find a healthy mix of all three camps. We are firmly rooted in Western Medicine, and believe (most) scientific research is valid and true. We also are huge fans of God’s creation, and encourage people to base their diets on plants as much as possible. Some of our appointments happen in our test kitchen where we find ways to put more vegetables in favorite recipes. We know exercise, fresh air, sunshine, and friends are essential for health, which is why we have sports programs, a youth group, men’s and women’s groups, and political advocacy around parks and recreation spaces. We are thrilled when we can take patients off of their medicines because of weight loss or healing. We also have a strong pastoral presence and offer prayer, pastoral counseling, Bible studies, and Celebrate Recovery for patients and community members who want to work on their spiritual health. We also frequently stop and pray during clinic to ask God for healing. We believe in eternal life and we want everyone to experience it, and because of that, we know that there are things that are worse than death. This informs the way we practice medicine and our understanding of what true healing is.
The Healing Grove Solution!
At Healing Grove Health Center, we position ourselves outside of the broken medical system and keep our panel sizes low so that we can take excellent care of each of our patients. We offer concierge medicine services for a monthly fee, cutting out the middle man (insurance companies and their interests) and allowing us the luxury of focusing entirely on you, the patient. We answer the phone, we get to know you and your family, we understand your personality and your goals, and we can tailor your medical care to do what is right for you. We have same day appointments and even weekend and holiday appointments when needed, to keep our patients out of urgent cares, ERs, and hospitals as much as possible. We also have the flexibility to work within the system when needed for specialty care.
Try Healing Grove out! Schedule an appointment today!
Questions? Call or text us at 408.459.4443.
The Healing Grove Advantage
Annual Health Care Exam
Every year, you receive an extended visit with your personal Healing Grove doctor. We help you strive toward holistic wellness through our intensive health and spiritual care.
Your personal doctor guides you through a comprehensive health and soul care assessment, helping you develop a plan to become the very best version of yourself!
We understand you’re more than a machine. You are a complex mix of body, soul, mind, machine, and heart.
Our physicians come from the Christian faith tradition. We provide equal doses of medications and prayer, physical treatments and spiritual care. Whatever your faith tradition, you’ll be welcomed and comfortable here.
Connected To Your Doctor, 24/7
We care about you during business hours AND after business hours. Every patient receives the personal cellphone number of their doctor. Whether emergencies, check-ins, or urgent care, we’re there for you!
Get in contact directly with a doctor who personally knows and cares for you. Your personal doctor is just a click away.
Zero Wait Time For Your Doctor
At other clinics, you wait in a waiting room, waste time filling out forms, and then wait some more for the doctor in the clinical rooms. At Healing Grove, you don’t wait for the doctor. The doctor is waiting for you!
Personal Relationship With Your Doctor
At Healing Grove, we build a personal relationship with you. We want to know what makes you tick, what you care about, and what you’re struggling with. We want to know about you and your family.
Connected To The US Healthcare System
When you need more than primary care, we guide you through the system. The US healthcare system is incredibly difficult to navigate, but our doctors have decades of combined experience in helping patients find the care they need. We use our relationships and personal networks to get you the very best healthcare available. Our doctors have the time to advocate for you – providing referrals, making phone calls, and even checking in to make sure you’re receiving the proper care.
Healing Grove Health CenterHGHC Annual Membership
$ 200Per Month
- Patients see a doctor
- Zero wait for doctor
- Coordination of specialist care
- 30-minute to 1-hour appointments
- Gatherings that offer community
- Volunteer opportunities
- Holistic medical care
- Cross-cultural and socio-economic relationship opportunities
- Supports uninsured low-income patients
- Spiritual care team
Your Concierge Membership
A concierge medical care plan just for you – all that you need, and nothing you don’t. Healing Grove Health Center accepts HSA, HRA, and FSA.
This covers unlimited primary care, convenient physician access, health system navigation and advocacy, and invitations to our health, soul, and culture care programs. Plus, it gives TWO low-income members access to top-quality primary care!
This also makes a great gift for a loved one with significant health needs. We have a lot of experience working with uninsured people, so we know all of the secret cash-price deals in our area. This plan can be great for people with high-deductible health plans who avoid their doctors because of unreasonable co-pays and hidden fees. We find the most affordable meds, radiology, and lab tests in the South Bay, which are often less expensive than health plan co-pays.