In my last post, I suggested that, in these economically depressed times, it would serve readers well to learn a bit about homeopathy, in order to be prepared to deal with simple household emergencies, such as colds and flus and mechanical injuries, like scrapes, cuts and bruises.  I did not think that anything I wrote was particularly startling or shockingly new–indeed, it is the sort of thing that I have been teaching and writing about for years now.  So nothing prepared me (in my new-to-the-internet naive state) for the wrath of Kahn that was about to descend.

In the post (and I hope you will read it and the myriad comments it engendered) I went to town on the troubles millions of Americans are having in getting access to health care and suggested an alternative.  I finished my little post with a simple question:  Do we really, at this point, have anything left to lose?  True enough, in my opinion, as my years of experience in using homeopathic remedies has shown me time and again that, if you choose the right remedy, remarkable improvement will result, and, if you choose the wrong remedy, nothing whatsoever will occur.  No risk, no danger–indeed, what have you got to lose?

It started simply enough at first, with a comment from a Rhys Morgan that simply read:  “Yes, actually.  People have their lives to lose if they choose to rely on homeopathy for things more serious than self limiting illnesses.”  The opening salvo in Rhys Morgan’s assault.

At the time, I had no idea who he was or the reason for his somewhat over-the-top comment.  Having posted very little about homeopathy to date here at the blog–most of my comments, sadly, have come under the category of “self-absorption”–and having suggested nothing other than that homeopathy is effective for simple household emergencies (it is), I was somewhat taken aback by the sudden accumulation of corpses of people that I had killed by suggesting homeopathy to them.  I wasn’t capable of making the logical leap that Rhys, like an Olympic jumper, had made, but I did recognize the technique.  Having been part of some homeopathic discussion boards in past years, I remember well when comments like this suddenly appeared just before the internet trolls descended like the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz.

Assuming that I had a troll in my midst, I was unprepared when a friend told me that he was not a troll at all but a Pixie.  I did as my friend suggested and researched Rhys Morgan online.  What I found was a 15-year-old towhead youth; one who is himself stricken with Crohn’s Disease.

This changed everything for me.  He was not someone who was merely looking for attention or someone who takes pleasure in upsetting others and robbing them of their hope for healing:  he was instead one of the many millions of people in this world what suffer, whose lives are limited, often defined, by their diseases.  In his case, whatever past experiences he has had or whatever research he as done has had a great impact upon him–he now is not satisfied with just making decisions–hopefully, with his parents’ guidance and help–as to what treatments will be most effective for him, he has somehow come to the conclusion that it is his rightful role to attack anyone who happens to disagree.

I disagreed and I heard about it.  Some comments were so inflammatory and so downright rude that I trashed them and would not post them.  Rhys’ many comments were passionate, sometimes to the point of melodrama, but excusable, under the circumstances. And then there is the strange case of the letter from “Leigh R.”  This letter first appeared yesterday afternoon.  I read it, and although it went off onto several tangents (including one about bleach that I only found out later was a reference to something going on in Great Britain that I not only had not commented on but knew nothing about), I posted it and answered it.  All well and good.  Except that, a couple hours later, I received the same letter again.  And then again and again and again.  I have, to date, received it ten times now–almost as if it were being sent out by some technological means and not by an individual at all…

Newly intrigued, I went back to digging about Rhys.  I went to his Twitter Account.  There I found that he proudly announces that he has set it to register any reference to homeopathy, so that he can summon his followers to descend upon the poor fool who would dare to mention it.  Those are the flying monkeys I mentioned before.

I decided finally to include in today’s post a letter to Rhys Morgan.  I do this not because of his stand on homeopathy–personally and quite honestly, I just don’t care whether he wants to use homeopathy or not.  He, like every other person, deserves the freedom to determine what sort of medical care is appropriate for him–but because I want him to understand that, while he is remarkably bright and well-researched in terms both of his disease and of various medical studies (read: those that support his beliefs), he is, in my opinion, fighting the wrong fight.  And, like millions of poor Americans who somehow get snookered into voting for candidates who want to give tax breaks to the wealthy with the incredible explanation that, in doing so, they are helping the working poor, he is working against his own self interest.

So, here’s the letter.  If you want to read more of the back-and-forth between Rhys and myself, please look at the comments section of my last post, “Do-It-Yourself-Medicine.”  But, to the letter:

Dear Rhys,

First, let me tell you how sorry I am that you suffer from a disease like Crohn’s.  I know from my own experience how painful it can be–both physically and emotionally.  I know how limiting it can be, how it makes you structure your whole life around it, define your life by it, as it grows worse and worse.  And I know all too well the prognosis that the disease suggests.  The picture that gets painted is upsetting at best, and can be deeply frightening.

I quite understand your take on homeopathy.  I shared it at one time, just as I shared the disease that troubles you.  And I remember very well when my friend Peggy took me to hear a lecture on homeopathy and how I sat in the back row, my arms crosses, my legs thrust out in front of me.  I didn’t want to hear it.  At that point in my life, like you, I was working from a place in which life seemed to be very logical.  That it followed a set system of rules and that those rules were largely determined by doctors and by scientists, who gave and took back hope as if it were their job to do so.

It was a gentleman from India who spoke on homeopathy that night.  I knew nothing about it–had never heard the word.  And as he spoke in his thick accent, I really thought he was a fool.  That he was describing a form of voodoo.  And I let him know it.  I didn’t argue with him as you likely would have, Rhys, instead I used my weapon of choice:  humor.  I made the audience laugh, first with me and then at him.  He continued on as best he could, but very little of what he wanted to teach us got said that night, thanks to me.  Peggy was red-faced and angry as we drove home.  She sat with her face out the side window and we didn’t speak.  Not for a long time.

I went on from there, to some of the best doctors and one of the best hospitals in the world.  I had very good health insurance then, unlike today, and so I could afford the best.  All the news was bad, all the prognoses terrifying.  I was producing television in those days, Rhys, living in a high-stress environment, which was only making matters worse.  I did everything that my doctors told me to do, and nothing was working for me.  I was getting sicker and living with more and more pain, more and more restriction.

Finally, I was at the point of giving up.  I called Peggy and, swallowing my doctor-loving, left-brained pride, I asked for the number of her homeopath.  And, as you know, that very first visit changed my life.  I improved immediately with homeopathic treatment and, in time, could honestly say that I had not had a bout of colitis in a week, then a month, then a year–and now twenty-five years or so.  I can’t even remember the last I suffered from the disease.

I tell you this for one reason, Rhys Morgan:  in order to tell you that healing is still possible.  It is always possible.  You spoke to me in your missives and those of your flying monkeys about giving people false hope. I don’t believe that there is such a thing as false hope, Rhys, I believe that there is only hope.  Hope is an engine of change in our lives, if we let it.  We have an inborn and innate ability to heal.  And this ability is ours from birth until death.  It grows stronger and weaker by the circumstances of our lives.  It is our job, and the job of wise physicians, to do whatever can be done to support this ability to heal, to stoke it and to, in result, allow healing to take place.

The ancient healer Paracelsus, who stood on the gap between chemistry and alchemy, and who died young as the result of a mysterious defenestration, was asked about how he helped his patients to heal.  He said that, when it comes to healing, you can’t measure the material that causes it, you can only measure the result.  He likened healing to lighting a fire. You don’t sit and think, you don’t try to reason out exactly how much spark you have to bring to the wood to get it to light.  You strike a match and touch it to the wood, knowing that combustion is a natural process like healing.  The role of the physician (and that is a topic for another day, Rhys) is to strike the match, not to be it.

In my opinion, Rhys, our difference is not about homeopathy versus allopathy, our difference in viewpoint is about healing versus curing.  You are still working from a materialistic model, not only of the universe, but also of how healing takes place.  I am not.  I do not think that, ultimately, there is such a thing as a “cure,” as all medicine–ALL medicine–ultimately depends upon the body’s ability to heal itself.  Some medicine (homeopathy, in my opinion) assists the body and boosts its ability to heal.  Other medicine (allopathy, in my opinion–which, by the way, includes some natural medicines, such as herbal treatments–again, a topic for another day) is suppressive in its action, and in being suppressive actually weakens the body’s ability to heal itself.  This is the gulf that lies between us, Rhys, not homeopathy.

I believe that you can be made totally well.  I was.

I believe that that can happen in many ways.  I do not say to you that you must do things my way (another difference between us). I say that you should seek healing and not a cure.

I believe that you are a person of unique intelligence and talents, but that you are still young.  Like me, you may find in time that you regret some of the things that your precocious intelligence leads you to do.  I deeply regret that I convinced all those people in that room that homeopathy was ridiculous and that the man who was speaking about it was a clown.  You may, one day, regret that you are issuing fear-speak and robbing people of hope. You may also regret one day that you so defamed homeopathy without having even a vague idea of what you are really talking about, never having really experienced it yourself.  But that may be too much to hope for and an irony that would never get this letter adapted for the silver screen.

I wish you well, Rhys Morgan, I really do.  I have read on the blog that you are becoming quite the media darling in your country.  Don’t let that go to your head.  And remember, as Spider-man says, with great power comes great responsibility.  So be careful where you launch those damned flying monkeys.  (I have so mixed my metaphors at this point that I can only hang my head in shame.)

Finally, Rhys, the one place where I hope that we can agree is that people deserve the right to choose the medicine that is right for them.  Just as I would not want to force the sugar pills of homeopathy down your throat, I don’t want you forcing your bitter allopathic pills down mine.  In all the great areas of belief in our lives, we have to have the right to choose:  what religion we espouse, what political party we support and what form of medicine we wish to partake of.  To eliminate choice in any of these areas is wrong–wrong in every way.

I will never say to you that you do not have the right to freely express your opinions, either.  I applaud your intelligent statements of belief.  And I do not challenge the things you say.  But in the same way, I will not allow you to tell me that I cannot or should not express myself, or to challenge the experiences of my life or my life’s work.  Especially as you do this from a place of ignorance.  I deserve the same respect that I have given you.  This is not a place of debate, this blog.  This is my little corner of the internet, where I get to say what’s on my mind.  Like I just did.

I wish you well, Rhys Morgan, I wish you a long and very healthy life.