I don’t hate doctors. I am not afraid of doctors. I don’t trust doctors. Well, most of them I don’t trust, at least. And I find that’s an important factor in the doctor/patient relationship. I’m not completely opposed to “Western Medicine.” I’ve seen it’s value too much to ever say something like that. But it has its place. Major problems, major illnesses, keeping track of body functions so you know how to monitor your health and watching for those major problems and major illnesses so they can be caught quickly; these are important roles for Western Medicine. If I break an arm, I’m going to a doctor. If I get a sniffle, probably not so much. I do find that the majority of doctors in the United States seem to have a “here, take this,” mentality about health. To me, this is *not* usually the correct answer.
Once upon a time when I was in high school, I had a doctor I loved. She was, to me, the ideal physician. She knew me well, knew her subject matter. She never threw drugs down my throat, but knew exactly when they were necessary. When I was having trouble with an elbow that I’d already had surgery on (and was therefore beyond panicked about losing the use of), instead of anti-inflammatories, she gave me an exercise that to this day works like a miracle. When I encountered a lump in my lower back with pain (again, after already having received epidurals and going thru an MRI and all that wonderful stuff), she suggested a massage. It worked. Time and time again, she had alternatives to common drugs that actually worked. Yet if I came in to her office after 2 months of suffering with a stuffy head and sinus pain, and had finally decided I couldn’t kick a sinus infection out of my system, she’d give me an antibiotic, no question. She trusted me, as well. She knew that I didn’t ask for medication until it was necessary. She knew that if she gave me an alternative I would use it correctly.
She retired, as most people will eventually, and left me with no doctor as of my mid-twenties or so…which was in actuality a pretty long time ago. No, I haven’t gone without physicals for that long. I tried a few doctors over the years but have been, by-and-large, very disappointed.
My first attempt was a man who was the head of a very large internal medicine department. I didn’t request him specifically, but got him in sort of a pot-luck of who was available when I was available. So I made the appointment, and the receptionist asked me if I was going to have a fasting or a non-fasting blood test. I had no idea…so she asked his nurse, who asked him. I was told to do a non-fasting blood test. So we made the appointment for late in the day (they had a lab on-site).
The first strike for this doctor came when I told him I’d never had chicken pox. Now…maybe that might not matter to some folks. But at this point I was approaching 30 and my hubby and I were still intending to have children. Even if we never did have children (as was the case) we were at the age where all of our friends and family either had children, were pregnant or about to get married; the children would soon be coming. I don’t normally do the vaccinations thing, at least not for things that are contagious but not deadly. I haven’t gotten the flu vaccine this year, for example. My choice. At the age I was even at that point in time, chicken pox would be considered a deadly disease. I wanted a vaccination.
He completely dismissed the concept with a derisive snort, and went on to evaluate my blood work. And…surprise! (Ok, maybe not so much…) My cholesterol and triglycerides were high! Did he recommend a second non-fasting test? No. Above and over all my protestations because hubby and I were trying to get pregnant, he slapped me with a very popular, well-known, heavily-advertised cholesterol medication that should not be used if pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
Like a good little girl, I began taking the medication for a few days before getting annoyed and throwing it away. I then made an appointment with a different doctor at the same practice, expressing my disappointment to the receptionist on the phone.
The next doctor was a lady, and much better in some ways. She didn’t dismiss my worry about the chicken pox. When I started off the conversation with “I’ve never had chicken pox,” she immediately took it up, suggesting there was a blood test for the antibodies, we’d make sure I’d never had it and then get me vaccinated. And…ready for this?…after not even fasting for as many hours as necessary, I passed the cholesterol blood test with flying colors, well within normal range, well away from even “high normal”.
Unfortunately, I never really clicked with her. She was alright, and it was at least someone to go into see once a year for blood work. At the same time though, I found a fabulous allergist who I again had a great relationship with. I found myself wishing she were a general practitioner, but at least I got rid of the sinus infections once-and-for-all, and now understand a lot more about the way my body works. (Cold-and-flu related asthma. I react like an asthmatic if I get sick. Made a LOT of sense looking back on my life!)
Eventually I stopped seeing that doctor. The location was no longer convenient, and the hospital they had privileges at was at least an hour away from where I lived, basically useless in an emergency situation. I needed someone closer to me, but of course I had to put it off until it became crucial!