Create Your Home Consciously

Writing is not new to me, but blogging is another story. I’ve written many scientific papers and a couple of book chapters in the medical literature. Writing non-fiction however has been calling to me for some time now, for I have a lot to share for those interested in learning from my experiences. I am a diagnostic radiologist who for the past decade, has been working and living in a Pittsburgh suburb, helping to raise my two children.

In some ways, this area has been an ideal location for during my free time, my family and I have been able to enjoy a mixture of agrarian and city lifestyle. We maintain a small organic vegetable garden, an organic orchard of 16 trees and a flock of chickens and ducks during the growing season. We cultivate our own mushrooms and host a colony of honey bees. Over the years, I’ve learned how to freeze, can and dehydrate extra fruit and vegetables. The family has been able to subsist on the garden’s output for over half the year, each year. Yet, because the city of Pittsburgh is so close, we are able to go into the city to enjoy the many new restaurants and entertainment options Pittsburgh has to offer. Pittsburgh really has become a great town!

In our home, we all enjoy excellent health, but this hasn’t always been the case. My home town, was a hazardous place to grow up in, not only for my own health, but probably for most everyone else as well. The effects of pollution in that region were subtle and insidious. We all joked about the incredible stench driving through Newark or Elizabeth, New Jersey, back then but there was no one specific incident that caused a media blitz such as what has occurred recently in Flint, MI. Over the decades though, the area proved to be a very unhealthy place in which to grow up and live. I have no idea if it was the tap water we drank, the ground that we played ball on or the air that we breathed. But, way too many of my classmates and neighborhood friends were diagnosed with cancer before even turning 40. In fact, I was one of them. Many of my friend’s parents died much too early of chronic diseases, particularly cancer and neurodegenerative disease. It wasn’t until I moved out of the area, experienced life in other parts of the country and travelled the world that I gained perspective and realized that communities all over could be classified as either healthy or even sickly. It has been particularly frustrating being a “health care practitioner” and seeing more and more people develop disease earlier and earlier in life. Asthma, allergies, rheumatologic diseases, cancer, neurological disorders, and of course obesity and diabetes are all way too common, especially in children. It has become clear that disease isn’t random, sporadic or what many consider to be bad luck. Some disease are more common in some locations than in others, indicating they are, in a sense, environmental. What’s even more apparent is that even though we always look for family histories of various disease in the medical field, most disease, including many types of cancer are not genetically predetermined.  People may be genetically susceptible to certain types of disease, but that does not mean they are destined to become afflicted with it eventually.

So why the title “Create your Home Consciously”? During my work and personal travel, it has struck me that most people who come down with a disease are hit from left field and have no idea why they became ill. Some people of course do know, such as the chronic smoker who is diagnosed with lung cancer or the woman who’s husband worked with asbestos many years ago and is doomed to suffer a slow death from mesothelioma. In general though, we do not seem to understand that certain lifestyle choices we make on a daily basis can increase our risk of becoming diseased. It is particularly distressing that so many of us know nothing about the food we eat or the water we drink. Our world has become a giant soup bowl filled with plastics and industrial chemicals, and we inhabitants are for the most part totally oblivious to the biological effects that these chemicals can and do have on our bodies everyday.

I’ve learned a lot over the years, but communicating this information effectively is tricky.  Even when people grasp the knowledge, translating that new concepts into action is difficult. In many cases, changing one’s habits is what is ultimately necessary in order to take steps to improve one’s health. Anyone who loves a friend, or family member who smokes, drinks or takes drugs excessively knows it is next to impossible to convince him/her to stop their self destructive behavior. Yet, how can you look yourself in the mirror when one of those friends is diagnosed with cancer or has an accident that you might have helped them avoid if you had offered your observations to them beforehand?

In this series of short posts, my goal is to set up a framework to help the reader piece together how some of the elements in his/her environment interact with their body’s physiological processes. Following will be a brief description of how contaminants associated with each element can adversely affect their health. This information should help one begin the process of creating a healthy home, consciously.