"You're Not Sick. Go To School!"
I was never pampered growing up in a home with a father who was a doctor, who in turn was also the son of a doctor. I was often told that I didn't need to take any medicine because I would simply get over any discomfort or illness I felt.
Unless I had something extremely contagious or was throwing up in front of him, my father - like his father before him - would say, "You're not sick. Go to school!".
And go to school is just what I did.
Just as I rarely missed a day of school, today I almost never miss a day of work due to illness. I go to work unless I physically cannot stand up. I almost never go see a doctor and I rarely take medicine when I am sick because it has been so ingrained in me that I'll just get over it.
During Rosh Hashana this year, I came down with bronchitis. Unfazed, I went to work after yom tov with laryngitis and had to whisper to my co-workers to communicate. I continued fits of coughing throughout Aseres Yemei Teshuva and would spend more than an hour each night coughing on the couch downstairs before I fell asleep exhausted, sweaty, and with tears in my eyes. Nevertheless, I thanked Hashem for all the coughing and asked Him to consider it as a kapara; understanding that this sickness was for my ultimate best.
Throughout Kol Nidrei and Yom Kippur I continued to experience fits of coughing and numerous people told me that I needed to go see a doctor so that I didn't catch pneumonia.
Finally, after yom tov was over, I called my father and he diagnosed me over the phone. He called in a prescription for me for some antibiotics and cough syrup, and by Sukkos I felt better.
Although my propensity not to take medicine is based solely on my upbringing, I have noticed that both the Degel Machaneh Ephraim and Rebbe Nachman of Breslov advised others not to rely on medicine and to stay away from doctors. Rabbi Chaim Kramer even wrote,
"You can tell a Breslover Chassid by his medicine cabinet. Unlike the rest of the world, his medicine cabinet is not full."
On the very first page of his sefer in Parshas Bereishis, the Degel Machaneh Ephraim taught that if a person has real emuna he would never need to take medicines or use any other cures. He would be able to rely on arousing Hashem's compassion to heal him solely by means of davening and learning Torah.
Similarly, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught,
"It is best to rely only on Hashem. Someone who does not, has no option but to devise all kinds of complicated methods of trying to get what he needs. If he is sick, for example, he may have to look for all kinds of special drugs and medicines, and often the ones he needs are not available where he lives, while those which are available are useless for his condition. But the goodness of Hashem reaches everywhere. Hashem has the power to cure all wounds and illnesses. He is always available. If you are ill, you should rely only on prayers and supplications. They are always available, and they will certainly help. If you depend on doctors and medicines you will have to do a lot of searching because you will have to look for the right doctor with the right medicines. And it is usually impossible to find them, because doctors do more harm than good."
With these two teachings in mind, do you think that the approach I take towards sickness and healing is extreme and misguided, or does it somewhat conform with the approach of the Degel and Rebbe Nachman?