If you’ve followed The Wellness Way for any length of time, you’ve probably seen or heard of the “Carpenter Approach”; it’s how Wellness Way doctors and practitioners approach health. This phrase comes from illustration Dr. Patrick uses when describing the different approaches to healthcare. It goes back to the burning house scenario described below.
The Burning House Scenario
Let’s say you’ve been out for a nice evening with your family, but you get home and, God forbid, you find your house on fire! Who is the best professional to manage this emergency? Of course, the fireman has the best training to handle the situation.
Firemen to The Rescue!
So, let’s walk through the scenario. The fire truck pulls up, and the firemen have two primary tools: hoses and axes. The firefighters run up to your house with their axes. They crash your door in and smash the windows. With the hose, they start spraying the inside of your home. When the water they spray hits your family photos, what does it do to them? The wall? The carpet? The fire department has been there for about fifteen minutes, and what have they done to your house? They’ve ruined it! While it isn’t livable now, charred and soaking wet, you’re grateful for the many ways they’ve destroyed your home!
All you have left is a burned-out shell, and you are grateful. Even though they have caused massive destruction, you aren’t angry. Why? Because they did their job! Can you live in that house? No. Is it toxic? Yes. Could it kill you? Possibly! Remember, the fire department did an excellent job and did everything they were supposed to do with the knowledge and tools they had to work with. But that doesn’t mean your house is fit to live in, in its current state.
Firemen put out fires, and they are great at it. When you need them, they rush to your need, using everything at their disposal to quell the flames before they spread to other parts of the house or, heaven forbid, other houses. But once the fire is out, have their picks, axes, and water left your home in a livable condition? Unfortunately, not. It’s time for the carpenter to visit and see what’s needed to salvage what is left.
Carpenters Help Restore
A time will come when you want to move back into your home. Who is the best professional to call to repair your house? A carpenter. Imagine what the carpenter sees when he shows up. The carpenter sees a mess! He will have to rip out the walls and carpet and bring in the materials needed to rebuild the house. Wellness Way doctors are carpenters. We examine the home’s structural issues and design a repair plan that solves the immediate problem, like faulty wiring or rotted wood, and leaves the house stronger for the future.
If the carpenter were to show up at the home while it was on fire, ready with his hammer, nails, and lumber, he would look silly. Vice versa, if the fire department were to show up and try to rebuild the house with an ax and a hose, they would look ridiculous. The need you have at a given time determines which professional you call. Which professional was suitable for the job? Both. Both professionals are valuable for a specific need at the appropriate time.
The Fireman vs. The Carpenter in Healthcare
We’ve allowed the wrong people to dictate the terms, and “healthcare” no longer means what it should. When you hear it today, it’s most often in a conversation about going to a doctor or symptom management of some kind. But are these things really healthcare? If you understand the example of the fireman and the carpenter, you understand how healthcare should work today.
Who should you call if you’re having a stroke or heart attack? 9-1-1. To follow through with the analogy, let’s call mainstream medicine the fire department. When you call 9-1-1, they will take you to the hospital and use their “axes” and “hoses” to save your life. Here is where some confusion comes in. When they put the hose into your arm and start pumping the medicine into you, is it good for your body? Some say yes, and others say no. Let’s go back to the example. When the fire department sprayed water on the walls, was it good for the walls?
You have to answer the question asked. The question was not whether it saved your life, nor was it if it put out the fire. The question was whether it was good for your body. If you look at the back of the medication bottle and the inserts, there are numerous warnings and a list of adverse side effects. Those interventions with their side effects are not good for your body. The manufacturer is required to present this information about potential harm; it’s not an opinion. But just because something is needed in an emergency doesn’t mean it’s good for the body in the health restoration process.
Now, let’s say the medication didn’t work. The fire department only has one other tool: the ax. The ax, in this case, is surgery, which you could also die from. If you’re having a heart attack, you may need drugs or surgery to stay alive. Even though they aren’t necessarily good for your body, they are needed at the time to try to save your life.
Let’s look at the difference. The most common reason people have gone to the doctor in recent years is high blood pressure. Everybody knows someone with high blood pressure. Can someone die from high blood pressure? Yes! The fire department uses ACE inhibitors, channel blockers, or Lasix to save lives. But after they saved your life, after all the warm sentiments to the doctors and nurses, do they ever sit down with you and discuss why you had the heart attack or stroke? Do they help you get your body back to a healthy state of balance? Probably not. They may suggest a bland diet and an occasional walk, but are they helping you rebuild for a long and vibrant life? No.
Can you rebuild a house with an ax and a hose? No, you can only put out a fire. Can you get your body back to normal with drugs or surgery? No, you can’t.
Healthcare is Proactive
When was the last time you went to your doctor before you were sick? We’re not referring to a follow-up visit where you confirm things are going well. Rather, when was the last time you saw a doctor to learn how to prevent getting sick in the first place? Doctors don’t do that typically. Most doctors take the fireman approach, treating you when you need them. It’s great that they are there, but is that healthcare, or disease care?
Healthcare is providing for your health, not treating the symptoms of a disease you already have. That means being proactive. And since virtually every ailment known to humanity comes from inflammation, it’s easy to stay ahead of the disease curve. Get your blood tested. Find out what you’re allergic to. Be aware of which toxins to avoid. Get to know your body, inside and out. Healthcare is about managing your health, not your sickness.
Many doctors today are fire department doctors. But at The Wellness Way, we do health differently. We take the carpenter approach. We want to know which things triggered your fire. The Wellness Way doctors and practitioners help our patients to repair the weak spots where fires can start, rebuild what fires have destroyed, and—best of all—help prevent any potential fires in the future so that you can live a long, healthy, and vibrant life!
Talk to a carpenter so you won’t need a fireman!