I've been taken to task for the past two posts, perhaps deserved. Any time one has very strong opinions, those opinions should be challenged, and I welcome any opportunity to more clearly state my opinions, even if it's just to be sure that that's how I really believe.
When it comes to corporate medicine, I feel very strongly that we are being cheated - perhaps not by some conspiratorial source, but defintely by a system that is more interested in stopping us from "feeling" than it is in really "curing" any of our illnesses. As I pointed out, the number one killer in the US is heart disease and the top selling prescription drug in the US is Lipitor, a heart medication.
Perhaps that makes sense, but it seems to me if we're being given a very costly drug to fix a problem that there wouldn't be so many people still dying from it.
But that's an aside, and I'm saying it kind of stream-of-consciousness. Don't feel obligated to comment on anything above this sentence ;).
What I do really wish to comment on, however, is the amazing medical care I have received in my lifetime. In 2000, I found that I was pregnant with my fourth child. My first child was born via c-section. My second was VBAC, a term I didn't learn until many, many years after my daughter was born. My third child was born in an Army hospital and delivered by a mid-wife, again VBAC, and again, I didn't learn that term until later.
For this fourth birth experience, I wanted something other than a hospital, but our insurance wouldn't cover a homebirth, and so I hoped to do the next best thing - a birthing center. It was at that point that I discovered more than I ever wanted to know about how the medical world works. In my experience it was the worst "good-old-boy" network I'd ever encountered. In short, due to insurance restrictions, the birthing center could not take me as a client, because the delivery would be a VBAC (pronounced vee-back). It means vaginal birth after c-section, and apparently, that one little thing made me a high risk for delivery, never mind that I had already, successfully delivered two children VBAC. It didn't matter, and the head of the hospital that provided back-up service to the birthing center made it clear that having me there would be a liability to them.
I was devastated, incredibly frustrated, and completely disappointed. I had one appointment with my local OB/GYN, who, when I presented him with my birth plan backed as far away from me as the walls in the exam would allow him to get, and told me, basically, that he would consider my requests, but that, ultimately, he was in charge ... of MY body and MY birth experience.
I decided I didn't like that answer, and I found a new doctor. She was a family doctor in a small practice, who had trained with an Amish midwife in prenatal care and delivery. She was the most amazing doctor, and I loved her. She took me as a patient well into my second-trimester, took me through my pregnancy, and listened to me when I told her that I did not want to be induced, even though I was two weeks beyond the date the calendar said I should have delivered.
When I found that I was pregnant with my fifth child, I was told that my beloved doctor would not be given priveleges at the hospital to deliver my baby there. The hospital chief, who was an OB, decided that it was too much of a risk to have a family doctor, not trained in surgical obstetrics, be the physician in charge of a VBAC - for a woman who was having her FIFTH child, FOURTH VBAC. My wonderful, incredible doctor sent me to an OB with a private practice, whom she believed would have more freedom to listen to my needs. Two visits with him and I knew that he was one of the good-old-boys. He never said as much, but what he did say was, "Why aren't you doing a homebirth?"
So, at the advice of my doctor, Deus Ex Machina and I hired a homebirth midwife to oversee the prenatal care and delivery of our last child. She missed the magic moment, and some how, inspite of the fact that I was a VBAC (for the fourth time), I managed to survive delivering a baby with only the assistance of my amazing husband. In fact, we both survived, and that fifth baby is standing in the dining room playing rock-paper-scissors now as I type this.
There are exceptions to every rule.
Unfortunately, my beloved family doctor moved, and we had to find a new primary care physician. It took a long time to find someone that we liked and trusted would not treat us like we were mindless sheep who needed to be herded in the direction they thought would be best for us, but we did.
We found a private practice. They don't just have doctors, though. There are other, non-traditional health care providers. Their clinic philosophy is one of treating the whole patient rather than just symptoms, and the likelihood of being prescribed a medication just to get you out of the exam room is pretty slim. In fact, the typical initial evaluation is an hour and a half, and not an hour sitting in the cold exam room waiting for the doctor with a nurse or PA occasionally coming into the room with a stethoscope or needle. It's an hour and a half with the physician in the room going over the medical history and discussing any problems or concerns.
But these guys *can* be different, because they don't take insurance. They don't take insurance, and so they are not limited by what an insurance company will allow them to do for their patients. They charge an hourly rate, which their patients pay at the time of service, and if the patient wishes, he/she can send the claim to the insurance company for reimbursement.
It's a warm and nurturing environment, and I wanted to share this experience, because I wanted to be clear that I don't hate doctors, I just think that by the time most of them finish their training enough that they can enter a private practice, they've become so jaded by the system that they no longer care. It's like the difference between a first year teacher and a tenured classroom veteran.
Our medical system is as broken as our educational system. It got too big and too complicated, and now everything, even the common cold ... even pregnancy ... is treated like an emergency. Nothing is treated anymore by a better diet or more exercise or just being aware of one's body and what one's body is saying. Doctors don't encourage us to listen. Indeed, they don't even give us the benefit of the doubt to know what's going on. They'll tell us. We just need to shut up, sit still, and allow them to do their jobs.
That's not good enough for me. It's my body. I've been in this body for more than forty years, and my body and I have been through a lot together. I know what things make my body feel wonky, and what things make my body feel good, and if I tell the EMT that I need to push when I'm giving birth, he'd better listen, but when he tells me to push, and I know I don't need to, I will (and did) tell him to be patient.
I realize that not everyone is like me, and that's fine. What a boring world it would be if we all were the same.
But I am like me, and I want a doctor who will respect *me*, as an intelligent, well read, and thoughtful human being. I may be wrong, and the doctor can tell me I'm wrong, after he's figured out the right answer, but to automatically assume I'm wrong without having listened to me or done any tests is insulting.
It's possible that the medical profession (doctors, nurses, hospitals, big pharma, etc.) is not in any conspiracy to make us sick so that they can keep getting paid the big bucks, but it has been my long and varied experience that they don't have a great deal of interest in helping me stay well by giving me sound advice and direction. Nope. Slap a bandaid on it. Give me a pill. Do some quick surgery.
That's not good enough for me, and I'm not willing to support a system that is so apathetic to my needs. In my opinion, no one else should be either ... but that's just my opinion.
The very bottom line is that medical care in this country is too expensive and too complicated, and unless we can find some doctors who know how to treat without big fancy machines and expensive medication, we're going to be in some trouble in the not too distant future.
I'm confident that my doctor will be able to treat me, even without drugs and x-ray machines. Are you as confident about yours?