One of the most dreaded things we don’t look forward to in life is a visit to the doctor. The probing and poking, prodding and questioning by a doctor or nurse can be frightening or calming to the nerves. This, of course, depends on what type of personality you have. This might take a visit to the psychiatrist first, who will determine what sign you were born under in order to figure out if you really can handle a trip to the doctor’s office.

What ails you? Does it hurt here or here? Does your knee jerk enough? Or can you handle the stick down the throat? These are just some of the mysterious actions that a medical know-it-all will conduct on you. Personally, I think that many people who choose medicine as a career are quite brave and more willing to tell you what is wrong with you than tell you what is not wrong with you.

For instance, when you show up with a pain in your gut region, the question is often related to bowel movements and urinary-tract drips. Then the poking of certain pressure points in your gut almost always causes some sort of pain that you didn’t have in the first place, then for sure, some sort of exploratory surgery is required. Do you often have nightmares of lying there on the operating table with most of your inner organs on display and everything is shown to an audience of first-year medical students on a large screen TV? Ugh, I’m sorry, but I ate poutine just before the pain showed up and is that a chicken bone sticking through that thick mucous membrane thing?

Well, I do sympathize will health professionals, because I believe in a good healthcare system, like the one we Cree enjoy and depend on. Who else will help the family when it comes to supporting a loved one in critical condition in a city far away from home – the CBHSSJB does, that’s who. If our Cree system wasn’t in place, we would probably have the same treatment as those living in other provinces.

I’ve heard of people on the Ontario side, who would be given a train ticket to Cochrane and then they would have to make their own way to Toronto to get to their appointment. Wow, talk about healthcare. In many ways, the system we have is much better for us and well suited to meet our needs. Where else is bear fat a cure on par with Tylenol or spiritual practices endorsed as a psychological aid? In Eeyou Istchee, that’s where.

Back in the day when people used to walk, paddle and use dog teams to get around, medicine had to be gotten from the lands around you. One story I heard was of a trapper with a broken leg and the bone sticking out the upper thigh, who had to think quickly in order to cure himself. Luckily, he had his packsack on him when he fell to the ground and his trusty axe in his hand. He chopped the trees around him to make a fire and heated up the nearby stones until they were white hot. He then made a miniature sweat lodge around his broken leg and carefully heated up his leg until it was nearly the texture of a medium rare steak. Then he set his bone back into place, tying up his leg with roots and a makeshift cast made out of small trees. He sat there until the leg had healed enough so he could get up and make crutches. He then made it back to his camp where he continued with his home-remedy regime until he was completely healed. He continued on with his trapping and made it back to town the following spring, fit as a fiddle.

Today, we deal with many types of diseases and physical dangers that didn’t exist before – the most obvious involving moving vehicles. Now, the use of air ambulances is nearly a daily affair. I would think that we would be in much better shape if we would just take more care and a more cautious approach to life in general. Who knows? You could be next.