Monday, July 19, 2010

The Alternative

This is me . . . on a soap box.  But I'll try to keep it short . . . sort of.  And remember, you don't HAVE to read this.

I am grateful for all the advances in modern medicine.  I am grateful they have found lots of ways to do lots of surgeries and treatments to save lives.  But conventional medicine misses a lot.  And sometimes it is so focused on the modern cure, that it overlooks the holistic approach, or the homeopathic one, or the one that old wives have been passing down for centuries.

This isn't really a new revelation for me.  I've been on this path for a while.  I pretty much reject the whole doctor-is-God thing.  I'm grateful for doctors, but I know that they don't have all the answers.  In fact, I've seen that they are sometimes dead wrong about things.  And that it is far better for me to trust my instincts and do some research if something the doctor tells me doesn't ring true.

When a doctor tried to tell me that I HAD to supplement between each nursing session because my newborn had jaundice, I knew that he didn't know what he was talking about. 

When a pediatrician tried to scare me with threats to call child services because I didn't want to give my baby 4 shots during one visit, I changed doctors.  And stuck to an immunization schedule that made sense to me.

Over and over, I have found home remedies that are much more effective than prescriptions the doctors have given me.  And they help me avoid a costly and inconvenient trip to the doctor's office.

Once, I found myself taking some crazy expensive anti-viral drugs because my doctor told me my swollen lips were caused by fever blisters.  Something that was highly contagious, and would plague me the rest of my life because there was no cure.  She hadn't run any tests.  She had merely looked at my condition and pronounced it so as she wrote the prescription.  I should have known better, but I was scared--I truly looked freakish.  After a while, I realized that the drugs had absolutely no effect on the swollen lips and that I better search for another cause.  Turns out I was simply allergic to my lip balm.  I threw it away and have never had a problem since.  Thanks doc.

The first time I threw away an antibiotic prescription for my kid instead of just going with the advice, "Well, maybe this will help," I felt liberated.  Viral vs. bacterial is sort of a fundamental difference.  One that some of our pediatricians didn't care to acknowledge.  Which drove me crazy.  So I turned to homeopathics and education.  I learned which illnesses the body could resolve on it's own and which ones responded well to homeopathics.  But I am also fortunate to have found a pediatrician who tells me the truth instead of just handing me a prescription.  He acknowledges when an illness is caused by a virus and just has to run it's course, even when the symptoms are scary.  See, I appreciate that kind of honesty.

Recently, when the doc told me my baby was breech, she didn't give me a whole lot of helpful information.  "Walk.  Gravity should help her go head down.  If she's still breech at 38 weeks, you'll be looking at a c-section." 

Really, that's it?  That was the best information modern medicine could give me?!  First of all, explain exactly HOW gravity will help the baby flip over.  Her bum was where her head was supposed to be.  Gravity was NOT going to help her flip over.  Mostly, it would just cause her to sink lower, but stay in her current position.  I didn't even need to turn to my trusty friend named Google to figure that one out.

So I began researching my options.  Research feverishly driven by my fear of c-sections.  I'm glad they exist, of course.  And if I really needed one to avoid serious complications, or worse, I would gratefully submit.  But that's only if I was unable to find another way. 

As always, it felt good to take charge of my medical decisions--to learn about ALL the options.  And I was lucky enough to find some alternative approaches that worked for me, a nice combination of old wives tales and holistic medicine.  Which is SERIOUSLY good news since I was actually considering a home birth in order to avoid the c-section!

I think that our current mess of a health care system would be forced to change for the better if more of us were willing to take charge of our own medical decisions.  If we were willing to educate ourselves about our conditions OUTSIDE of the doctor's office.  If we weren't afraid to ask hard questions about the cost and necessity of things our doctors might recommend.  If we were willing to try the home remedies and explore alternative medicine in order to avoid some of the more expensive treatments modern medicine would like us to turn to.  If we would realize that some cures require patience because we have to find the cause rather than just treat the symptoms.  If we would remember that there are so very many ways to successful healing.

We are the consumers.  It's time we started acting like it.  It's time we realize that the control over our healthcare choices rests squarely on our shoulders--not the doctors, not the insurance agencies, and certainly not the government.

Ok, that's it.  I am now stepping down from the soap box.


kara said...

Oh, you need to move here. I love my doctor and my pediatrician. Even with a breech baby it was still my choice to do a c or try vag. And my doc was all about me trying anything I found online or heard about to change it. And he tried a version. Which is usually pretty effective, with no medicine involved. I didn't care about the after trying a few home remedies and the version, off I went for the c. Even the day of the scheduled C, my doc was still willing to try the vag, despite the risks.

And my pediatrician was fully supportive of me giving the girls raw milk, and taking Margo to a D.O. for skull plate manipulations and other treatment, after a year of non-stop ear infections. Since the infections. This doc has said to me many times, "I can tell you what I learned and have been taught. You also have access to lots of information. You have to make the decision." Love her.

So, the bottom line is, move here. They aren't all evil or stupid.

sistyugler said...

Yeah, it would be nice to live in a more enlightened city. With more open minded medical professionals. That's great about Margo--I love hearing examples like that. I think little R would still have an unbelievably crooked head if we hadn't taken her to a chiropractor when she was a newborn.

But the thing that drives me more crazy than the closed-minded docs, is the large numbers of sheep that just blindly follow along with what the "professionals" say. Your city has many more enlightened consumers, I'm sure, which lead to more enlightened providers. Someday, someday . . .

Mom said...

You're very blessed to live at a time when so much information is available at your finger tips. When I was raising kids, research meant a second opinion for anything serious or, at the very least, a trip to the library in hopes they might have a reasonably current book on the subject of interest. You're absolutely right that the healthcare industry needs a whole lot more enlightened patients who are willing to go wherever they need to go for the answers that serve them best. I have to remind myself that the doctor works for me. I pay his salary and I can replace him if I don't think he's doing his job. But I have a long ways to go before I'm half as proactive as you are about health issues.

kara said...

I also just heard about a time in China (ages ago) when the docs were only paid for keeping patients healthy...hence LOTS of preventative care. That's another thing lacking these days...