Saturday, 10 November 2007

In Defense of Medical Professionals

I spent a long time being angry with the medical system... allowing my son to become so ill that at one point (when they thought he had meningitis but it wasn't meningitis and they didn't know what it was or what to do) I prayed for him to be taken that very night just to stop his suffering.

I spent a whole night praying, over and over again:

"Please God, if you're going to take him, take him now. Please don't let his little body hurt so much for so long. Just take him quickly and let his little soul move on. I'll find a way to make peace with it!"

Needless to say, and thankfully, he pulled through and was as a newborn babe with no muscle/head control... and began life all over again.

It took him weeks after that 'virus' just to crawl again. There was a bit of time when we thought he might not be, ever, independently mobile, and were settling in to accept that as being just-a-fact-in-our-lives'.

Then we found out that almost all of his symptoms were as simple as ingesting the wrong "healthy" foods (I made only homemade wholewheat bread for my family). This, after, out of all the specialists we saw, only one suggested food (gluten) as an issue (and all the others ridiculed her theory).

I spent a long time being angry with them for 'shutting the door on her theory'. It was because I went with the 'majority rules' idiology that my son suffered for a whole, very long, extra year. So, I was angry with them and angry with myself for not being more open-minded and just trying 'diet alterations' right away when our one 'smart' doctor suggested removing gluten.

Over time, and through examining many medical abstracts and papers, I have come to understand and empathize with the medical profession a great deal more than I once could.

For example, they are often caught between two evils and their only options often are limited to a 'bad' choice or a 'worse' choice.

The more open-minded doctors are often suffocated by the less open-minded doctors (and societal "norms" as may have happened in my son's case).

They, often, are not provided with the tools they need to get the job done. (E.g. catheter supply limited, no latex free in stock so they must risk using latex catheters on patients with latex allergies, etc.)

Also, I have come to understand that a physician's training is incredibly intense but still limited in the grander scheme of things.

For example, even gastroenterologists who specialize in bacteria and parasites, do not understand the lifestyle required or illness of a celiac or person with eosinophilic esophagitis (another malabsorption issue).

And even after all of their schooling, here is their day:

Begin work at 6 a.m.

Work a full twelve hour day.

If they're lucky, they get to see their family and have *some* time with them. *Maybe* get to a recital or soccer game once in a while.

Go to the odd seminar/presentation and still feel guilty about leaving so many people with no doctor to see for that day.

Time for themselves? They might squeeze a bit in somewhere between 11pm and midnight... a couple times a week. ;)

Another issue they run into is testing. People think that if testing is negative then "I don't have it." This is almost never true but med. professionals don't have half an hour to explain this to each and every person.

So, as an example (because malabsorption is what I've researched) if you get tested for celiac or lupus or something else and come back negative, what it really means is "unknown".

In another year you could test positive. Then again, you may never test positive either because the range for "positive" is a boardroom decision. If your damage falls below that *decided* 'line' of damage, then you are deemed 'negative' and may never even be told that you do indeed have a low level of intestinal damage and that diet might heal you.

The next question is, why wouldn't a doctor tell me if I have even "minor" intestinal damage? One potential answer is because many people, who don't get clear results from a test or diet trial *right away*, won't keep it up. Therefore possibly risking the implication of more serious, longterm health decline.

Therefore, doctors have learned that if a lifestyle change is in order for people, they don't want to do it (for the most part) unless they absolutely have to. So prescribing diet before end-stage damage of the intestine occurs (and sometimes semi/permanent damage), is often useless and has the potential for further, long term, potentially more serious damage because the patient doesn't take their 'illness' seriously enough to be as strict as they need to be with their diet.

Doctors have learned that (the majority of time) people are better about taking a pill than they are about 'managing their own health'. There are papers and papers and papers written on this very subject. The difficulty of getting patients to conform to a special diet is confounding to many a physician.

In my own case, the one doctor kept saying 'wheat' for a year before I decided to do a total elimination diet for my family (so she couldn't switch to a different food group later ;) ). And honestly, if we had only removed 'wheat', we may very well not have seen very clear results because there were several foods involved in his demise at the beginning.

Why didn't the other doctors (some of who probably did suspect it might be food) back her up? Perhaps because they thought I wasn't ready to take the suggestion seriously enough to comply with a strict diet for my child, therefore potential putting the longterm health of the child at greater risk. (Again, they are stuck in the position of choosing the lesser of two evils.)

They had no way of knowing that I am often a black and white freak of nature... The moment I realized gluten was a major offender, a sticker went on our front door (like a smoke free house sticker)and it wasn't even allowed in the house. This was how we found out (completely by mistake, obviously) that even our other 'normal' child, had better bone growth without gluten or cow dairy... which is a story in and of itself... But I digress (as usual)...

When we did our total elimination diet, I took my chances because I couldn't find anyone to help us. I made a lot of mistakes and had to make a lot of corrections and do a lot of learning.

We went to naturopaths and wholistic professionals who also gave us great hints and tests that were sometimes accurate and sometimes questionable, about what to do. They also gave us information that was even potentially harmful (side-effects which are always a risk in all treatments).

In the end I decided that the least harmful choice was diet alternation... and I developed a total elimination diet for my family that was followed by a fairly strict rotation diet (that was changed and changed again and changed again - you get the picture).

Our pediatrician was thrilled with our results (no dispute, his growth chart showed unbelievable improvements in bone growth - a year's worth in sixteen weeks). - Nevermind the vast improvements in countless other areas like mood stability, clinginess, seizure/breathing issues, glue ear, viral susceptability, gastro. issues, ability to focus - or unfocus, quality of life, joint rotation, sociability, eye contact, etc.).

She later asked me many, many questions about what I did, how I decided upon what I was going to do, how I identified my mistakes and how I decided upon the alterations that were required. I began to write papers that she requested permission to pass on for others who required a dietary lifestyle change and couldn't find anyone to help guide them.

Why was she so full of questions? Because this kind of thing isn't in their training. So, even though they know something outside of western medicine is a possibility, they often don't know how to pursue the option. They don't know how to instruct re: this type of lifestyle change.

What's part of the issue? They have no extra time for researching their own family's health issues... nevermind researching someone else's. They rely on what they learned in school because they have to. That's their job. Mostly, they do it the best way they know how. But if your answer wasn't in their textbooks, then you've got to do your own research.

You must be your own advocate of health.

No one system is perfect and there is no one who can examine them all for you - except yourself... and even then you just hope you're lucky enough to pick the right "road" sooner - rather than later.

"Medicine" (Western, et al) has a lot of great things to offer but in many cases is, really, only one aspect of treatment and that's precisely where it falls short. All medicine is also is geared to the 'average'... and as homeschoolers, we are all aware of what 'schooling to the average' means... Yet again, I digress... Sorry about that...

Depression is an excellent example. Anti-depressants save people's lives. There's absolutely no question about it. They are needed, required and a miracle drug (set)!

The gap in treatment is in finding the 'cause' of depression and after-therapy. In many instances, I have come to learn that 'good' foods are more than capable of altering brain chemistry in a bad way. Western medicine (largely) does not acknowledge this fact.

What usually happens (in western medicine) is a person is either put on a lifetime of pills - or weaned off eventually - but not placed into any type of 'lifestyle change' treatment. So they go right back to living the life that allowed their brain chemistry to falter.

Also, diet is only one aspect of altering brain chemistry. There are many studies that have been done for many years showing that brain chemistry is altered not just by eliminating toxic foods but by transcendental meditation (yoga, praying, running, Aikido, etc.). GABA and serotonin (happy hormones - oversimplified) are both shown to be altered (in a positive way) by this type of activity.

Presently, there is no 'brainiotherapy' for people who suffer depression, the way there is 'physiotherapy' for people with bone or muscle injuries.

Imagine if you broke tore a muscle, they gave you pain meds to dull the pain and sent you on your way. Would that muscle would ever reach it's maximum healed potential without daily stretching exercises and physical manipulation to push it to it's limits? Would it always require a little 'extra attention' every day to stay in top form? Maybe. If part of it's demise was that it was chemically toxified, would you need to identify that toxin and remove it or risk further damage? Of course.

As many know, physiotherapy often helps to train people to a 'new way of life' to help them avoid future injury. We need the same thing for people who suffer depression and migraines, etc.

In our family, transcendental meditation has played a significant role in our 'brainiotherapy'. :D

I discovered it completely by mistake... and it (yoga - in our case - which I chose to help with behaviour control/modification) helped our situation to a far greater degree than I had ever anticipated.

So, I began to research whether we were oddities of nature or if western medicine was even playing with 'brain training'. It turns out that there are many papers (newer ones have photos of brains with different chemistry too) and the knowledge has been there for many, many years... but no big money... no big message push.

(As always I have backup material and will try to add it later as I've presently run out of writing time with my verbosity... a Pubmed membership is free... so do go if you can't wait...)

These things (about food and meditation and the brain) have been known since the WWI and WWII (and even before) but in this age of "whoever-pays-the-most-gets-the-most-advertising", it's the big pharmaceuticals who are going to get big payback and who get the 'big push'.

No one is funding diet alterations or transcendental meditation because money could actually be lost by some food boards and lawsuits could follow (think Oprah and beef). And there's just not the same amount of money to be made as in a little miracle pill.

And so who is funding the 'information updates/seminars/etc.' that our doctors are going to?... One guess.

So some of your answers may lie within western medicine. However, if part of your answer lies outside of western medicine, the only person who will be able to pursue that possibility is you.

Western doctors/nurses/med. professionals are just too busy with the vast amount of knowledge that they are already struggling to hold on to (expand upon) and their day jobs (and too many patients for any one person to see in any one day).

(This same thing applies to Wholistic Practitioners, Chiropractors, etc. No one can have all the answers.)

As always...

Don't accept a mediocre life... expect an excellent one!

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