Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to ask questions, do research, and become a conscious health consumer.
Like it or not (and I do not!), medicine and healthcare have become big business. The days of serving patients first and foremost are over. The billboards on our highways for various hospitals and care systems prove that more conclusively than anything else. The fact that insurance companies are creating policies that impact the way independent doctor’s offices do business is just another stone in the yellow brick road to the weird world of consumerist healthcare.
Government is highly involved in the healthcare system (not necessarily a negative but another factor to consider), and from medical school onward, physicians’ information is often filtered through the pharmaceutical industry and other special interest groups with money.
Medical research is often funded by pharmaceutical companies as well, and why not? They have the money to spend and the financial motivation to do it. But that also means that healing interventions that don’t have a big price tag attached are sorely short on research, which, to me, means we’re likely not getting the whole story when we receive a diagnosis and prescription.
Gone are the days that the average American should just do what the doctor orders. Obedience is out of style, anyway.
Should Doctors Wash Their Hands?
But really – back in the time of leeches and blood-letting, patients probably shouldn’t have done everything their doctor ordered either! It’s only in the last century or so that doctors washed their hands between dead, diseased corpses and delivering babies.
Who are we to think that we suddenly, miraculously, know everything there is about the human body and how it works just because it’s the 21st century?
A good doctor admits that there is much he or she doesn’t understand about the incredibly complex human body, its systems and interactivity, and even its dependence on the microbiome, which research is just beginning to explore.
Good doctors embrace that they simply don’t know what they don’t know.
I hope you all have good doctors.
I’m currently on the hunt, honestly, for a family doctor for myself and a pediatrician for my kids (after we were “discharged” from the only pediatrician we ever had because we don’t follow the vaccine schedule exactly – one example of insurance companies’ influence on office policy). I hope to find a doctor willing to ask more questions than he answers, willing to listen to what I already know rather than treat me like a blank whiteboard to be filled with a generic prescription.
No matter what, I’m going to be a conscious and informed health consumer.
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A Degree from the University of the Internet
Do I think the information I can find on the web, with all its vastness, anonymity, and controversy, is always correct?
Of course not.
That would be blindly following in the same way that many think to do of their doctors.
But I do think the Internet has a wealth of information about health. I think there are many stories of people in situations that I might find myself or my family in from which I can benefit. I think there are a lot of people who really care about sharing what they’ve learned on their own (usually treacherous) health journeys.
Rude comments on Facebook and my blog often take jabs at this “Internet degree in medicine.” It gets under my skin a little, because I’m certainly not putting myself out there as an expert. (I’m not one!) I’m certainly not trying to tell people what they must do. (They shouldn’t listen to just me anyway!)
I am just telling my story. Sharing what I’ve experienced, what I’ve learned, just like I would in a backyard fence conversation in the 1950s or with a group of young moms trying to find their way in the 1990s.
People learn from others in the same situation.
That’s the way it’s always been and the way it should be.
We just happen to have millions and billions of next-door neighbors nowadays thanks to the connectivity of the Internet.
I’m smart enough to be wary and not believe everything I read, but I’m also wise enough to embrace the wealth of information available to me.
Today’s mission is simply to encourage you to do the same.
The Rabbit Hole of Health Research
I don’t know much. I don’t have a medical degree. But I do know how to read, how to do research, and how to question “the norm.” I don’t think the medical community is right about everything, and that must be the foundation from which I approach common medical treatments and recommendations.
I also don’t believe “the Internet” or any particular source is right about everything…which is exhausting, because it means that research on your question or condition never really ends. But if you or your family member finds relief from a physical condition because of hours of research, especially if the power of modern medicine already failed you, well, then – it’s well worth it.
There’s always more to read and discover. And it really is hard to know who to believe.
Sometimes, it has to come down to faith. You end up looking at all the opposing viewpoints, reading as much as you can, bouncing ideas off others you know and trust…and then you just have to try something, to go with your gut, to believe that something may work because it feels right to you.
Not a very academic approach, I know. It may sound like I’m playing with fire. But in the end, it’s the only choice, unless you want to just do what the doctor ordered and call it good enough.
You Don’t Need to Drown
If you feel a little exhausted or overwhelmed by research you’ve been doing, or just by the idea of delving into the depths of the web, I hear you.
I’m right there with you.
There are times when I sit down to work on the computer with five high priority items to do, things I really want to get done asap and am behind on already. I’ll come across a comment or a question on Facebook or start doing some research for a post I thought would be a cinch, and suddenly – there it is. Controversy. Opposing viewpoints. Two seemingly reliable sources that say the exact opposite, and depending on which one is right, I could either heal or hurt my family by using a certain product or dealing with some issue in a certain way.
It’s terrifying. Exhausting. And sometimes, an hour later when I’ve checked nothing off my list and am trying to climb out of the rabbit hole of information and sort it out to make an actual decision, it does feel like I’m drowning.
I can’t just blindly “do what the doctor orders.”
If we had followed orders, my husband probably wouldn’t have found relief from Crohn’s Disease and would still suffer from wildly high triglycerides. Honestly, he could have already had a massive heart attack and left me a widow if we hadn’t made out-of-the-mainstream choices simply because of reading what worked for others, doing a bit of academic research, and trying something that resonated with us on the inside. That felt right.
When have you had to question the conventional medical practice?
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