Saturday, December 26, 2015

Sickness and Taking Medicine

Everyone deals with sickness differently.

Some people want to be left alone and never asked about it.
Some don't.
Some people think that medicine is bad.
Some people will push for medicine thinking it will make everything better.
Some people think that things will go away if you don't go to the doctor.
Some people go searching for health issues when there aren't any.

Last year, when I visited my mother's hematologist with her, she told me to only search as far as I had to--and then to stop.  I was given the same advice by a rheumatologist.

We live in a complicated time.  Women are getting double mastectomies because they have a certain gene.  In a time when people think that doctors want to prescribe everything and do every procedure they can--that is not what I have experienced.

What I've experienced is:
+ One specialist telling me that I'm not sick, but that I do need to take Vitamin D (blood test showed it was low and it's very important to bone health) and exercise daily so that my shoulder doesn't get frozen (because it was well on its way).
+ Another specialist asked me why I went to see him in the first place.  I explained that I'd had some strange test results--which he then kindly explained to me--and explained that I wasn't sick.  He told me never to have my kids ANA tested and he wouldn't have recommended it to me.  From his perspective, there is no reason to live your life for the shoe to drop if there's only a 15% chance (or less) that it will!
+ My children's pediatrician doesn't want to give them antibiotics unless they really need them.
+ The allergist my son sees didn't recommend taking foods out of his diet unless we discover (through experience) that he really is allergic to them.

My general experience is that doctors will prescribe medicine if you really want it.  The urgent care doctors I have seen are usually the ones to more quickly prescribe.  But, what I've learned as I've listened to people is that people who want doctors to prescribe a lot of medicines find doctors that will do that.  The doctors my family sees don't.

I remember a story from an acquaintance years ago.  She told me about how she wasn't sleeping so her OB prescribed her a sleeping aid when she requested it.  She was prescribed this medicine eventhough it was a riskier medicine, she'd taken it during a previous pregnancy, and her baby was born blue (but recovered).  Many people might assume it was the doctor's doing that she would take this risky medicine, but that wasn't the case at all.  It was the woman who pushed for it and chose to take it.

On the other hand, I never had an OB (of the ten different providers I saw--several were in group practices) that offered me a sleep medicine or even asked if I wanted one!

We live in a cynical culture, so many people go to the doctor believing that a doctor is automatically going to prescribe medicine--medicine that you likely may not need.  This is unfortunate because I've known several people to shy away from the doctor or from medicine prescribed from them because they don't believe that the doctor will only prescribe it if they need it.  What this really boils down to is not trusting one's doctor.

When I didn't trust my son's doctor, I went looking for another one.  It was empowering.  I learned that I didn't have to see a doctor who didn't care enough about my son to look at his chart and know that we're there for an annual checkup.  I asked around and couldn't find any recommendation, so I went with the hospital that folks I knew recommended and picked the first doctor off the webpage that I saw.  I was trusting that the Lord would direct me to the right doctor--and he did!  My son now sees a great specialist who knows exactly who he is--even though we only see him once a year.

We are blessed to live in a place and a time when we do have choices when it comes to medical care.   Medicine is a blessing.  I know that it is wise not to take too much and not to overmedicate, but I do get concerned that just as a phobia developed about vaccines (leading to various outbreaks of these diseases), that people who really need medicines may not take them when they need them.  I hope that this won't happen.

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