What is a Disease?                                                                                                                 James Chin-Ti Lin, M.D.


    Talking about life and living without a mention of "what a disease is",  such a discussion would be incomplete. Now let us talk
    about "what is a disease?".

    What would be the reasonable definition of disease?  As the word of dis-ease denotes, it is something wrong-mental or physical-
    to make a person incapable to conduct personal and social life efficiently; a disease is coming; you need a help.  

    This is an inevitable life event at a certain time under certain circumstances on the path of life.  

    How can we favorably manage a disease?  At this moment, let us review the following commonsense approach to handling any
    potential undesirable life events.

            When we are not happy with someone or something, what should we do?  Life experience has taught us what we should do;
           that is to clearly identify, understand, and inquire the following three questions:
    1.   Who are we?
    2.   Who or what is someone or something that we are unhappy with?
    3.   What is the real face or nature of that someone or something that made or
         has made us unhappy?

    Using the above frame of thinking and understanding, we can easily understand and comprehend what a disease is and how we
    can realistically handle and manage a disease when it strikes.

    Right after babies are born, they start their hard work to negotiate and fight against all the odds of risk from around internal and
    external environments. For survival and growth, they have to win these silent, invisible wars against all bacteria in external
    environment and those inside their body such as those on the skin or in the mouth, genitourinary tract, and gastrointestinal tract.
    While body immunity is strong enough, they coexists well-usually friendly-with these bacteria under a non-spoken contract for
    mutual benefit.

    Please remember: All bacteria, to an extent, are opportunistic microorganisms; they quietly coexist with us under a supposedly
    well-balanced environment; then we are not sick. However while bacteria are at certain locations, where they are not supposed to
    be, and  under certain conditions with significant declined body defense mechanism, usually resulting from overuse, misuse,
    abuse, and destruction, these supposedly friendly bacteria will become disease-causing (pathogenic) bacteria to make us sick.

    Although our body does constantly undergo its mental and physical self-healing process, however at times, the combined mental
    and physical effort under certain circumstances will not be strong enough to generate, maintain, and sustain a sufficient
    defending power - immunity - to defend us. As a result, the function or working ability in certain part(s) of body will fall below its
    minimal requirement for self-defense; a malfunction (unable to work correctly) of the involved part(s) of body creeps in and a
    disease emerges.

    A disease process is extremely complicated, and it may be beyond comprehension. Despite its inherent high complexity, the
    common sense from daily living tells us how to explore, examine, and analyze life events with the following two layers of
    understanding:
                   1. its underlying reasons (or factors)
                   2. its possible precipitating reasons (or factors)

    What are the underlying reasons (or factors) for a disease?  They are the accumulation of all combined spiritual and physical
    events over lifetime, including inborn genetic inheritance, the result of upraising, education, living, and experience in the past.

    Of no doubt, everything happens to us spiritually or physically always leaves its mark, either good or bad, on the path of life.  That
    is why I can not stress enough the importance to take daily life and living seriously, and consider life and living as a very serious
    tough business if a person wishes to look nicer, feel better, and live longer.

    What are the precipitating reasons (or factors) for a disease?  They are the potentially identifiable factors, which are able to tip
    over the threshold of defense mechanism and prompt the beginning of a disease process.

    Physically, they may be an injury or accident, contamination through “inadequate” aseptic technique, significant malnutrition from
    poor dieting, undesirable careless lifestyles under compulsive drive of over-indulgence and obsession such as tobacco
    smoking, alcohol, and drug abuse/ addiction, gambling, web-surfing, sex,…and even natural aging process, just mention a few.

    Mentally, they result from a host of reasons such as child abuse, personal, and financial mismanagement leading to personal
    and social stress, frustration, and eventually to depression.

    Evidently, all life events in the past and at present are accumulating, intertwining, interacting, and affecting our life sometimes and
    somewhere down the road of life. That is why it is never too late to take actions harnessing life with intense self-care leading to
    self-preservation. This is the only surest way that will give us a best possible opportunity to live a healthy life so to look nicer, feel
    better, and live longer.

    Generally speaking, today's medical care still mainly focuses on identifying the precipitating factors of a disease. Recently the
    importance of understanding and managing the underlying factors of a disease has caught public and professional attention in
    medical care. The activities aiming to identify, correct, or remove the potentially identifiable factors have been displaying their
    power, honor, and glory in modern medicine,but still far from satisfaction due to the constant pressure of political correctness
    (sweet talk and sympathy), commercialism, information over-flooding, and information,misunderstaniding.

    Therefore, in practical care for disease, although we can not do much about our past, we should not overlook or underestimate
    the importance, value, and contribution from intensely modifying personal lifestyle without over indulgence and obsession such
    as quitting tobacco smoking or stopping alcohol abuse, etc.

    Fortunately, most of medical professionals are able to help patients realize and understand who they are and what is their mental
    and physical available capacity from within to continue to unfold life. Therefore, a holistic approach to caring for sickness is
    essential to achieve a best possible effectiveness of medical care.

    At ending the discussion of disease, I would like to explicitly state:
  • Medical professionals have never cured anything for anybody, but just merely modify something for somebody to
    some degree with or without medications and / or surgery at reasonable time in reasonable ways to reasonable
    patients;
  • Life is a constantly changing, adjusting dynamic process of struggle to cope with reality, certainty, and uncertainty of
    daily living for survival, growth, and continuation for inception to eternity.

    Here I wish you capture some insights on realistic understanding of life and disease. From now on, you will be more willing to
    work closer and better with medical professionals than so to foster to a better outlook of life.

    You're welcome to leave comments or suggestions so that I can make the presentation on life-related subjects more pointedly in
    the future in attesting: in life, perfection would and will never be, but perfecting should be.

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