Words I never ever EVER thought I’d say: I adore my doctor.
Something that isn’t very evident from my blog posts is that I am big into natural and alternative health. Not so much into traditional western medicine. (Qualifier: for emergencies and big health issues, yes, very grateful for cutting-edge solutions and interventions.) I have a special dislike for pharmaceutical companies (again, with the same exception), and I’d much rather try natural supplements and/or herbs than take a capsule of chemical substances.
I’ve gone to a chiropractor for years and used to go to a naturopath. I’m open to other types of holistic practitioners as well, but there’s always been one thing holding me back: my insurance has never, ever paid for anything other than traditional MD appointments and treatments.
Just typing that last sentence sent my blood pressure skyrocketing.
You see, the treatments and methods that have been most effective in keeping/getting my family and me healthy have been alternative/natural in nature. (I use that combination because I don’t really know where “alternative” ends and “natural” begins. I don’t really care. The key here for me is EFFECTIVENESS.)
For example, I used to have chronic sinus problems. Horrible ones. I felt like crap every single day, no lie, with post-nasal drip, congestion, on-and-off sinus pain, etc. When my boys were toddlers, I remember thinking to myself as I laid down for my daily, much-needed-to-get-through-the-day nap, that my guys would remember me as the mom who napped all the time. And that’s not who I wanted to be, but I didn’t know how to change it.
Less than a year after my second child was born, my sinus problem became so bad that I rarely made it through a full month without needing antibiotics. Long story short, I gave in to traditional medicine recommendations and had sinus surgery.
Worst. Decision. Ever.
The surgery experience was awful, the recovery was horrible, and after about 6-8 months of no infections, all my sinus problems returned in full force. So the suffering was for nothing.
By random (fateful?) chance, I came across a book a few months later called Sinus Survival: The Holistic Medical Treatment for Allergies, Colds, and Sinusitis, which tells you how to overcome chronic sinus problems without using traditional medicine solutions. Things like a (long) list of supplements to take each day, specific house plants to clean the air in your home, diagnosing food sensitivities and systemic yeast problems that beat down your immune system, and what type of air purifying products to buy to improve the quality of the air in your home. If you have chronic sinus problems, I cannot urge you strongly enough to buy and read this book!
*stepping off spur-of-the-moment soapbox*
The surgery that my insurance covered in full (thankfully) did nothing for me long-term. The natural remedies that have restored my health in a one-eighty? Cost me tons. I spend over $100 in supplements per month (no longer the same ones recommended for sinuses, because, generally speaking, my sinuses are in good shape). The chiropractic care that has also made a world of difference in my life and my childrens’….let’s just say we likely singlehandedly paid for the chiropractor’s last tropical vacation. Eating healthy whole foods costs a FORTUNE, as does massage and accupuncture (which I have not yet tried but would like to).
But I haven’t had a sinus infection for over 4 years. The only antibiotics I’ve had in the past 8-9 years was a strong dose for a severely infected tooth, another round for a UTI, and one for a bout of bronchitis with a sinus infection.
So how does this relate to my overzealous adoration for my new doctor?
She’s part of the UW Integrative Medicine department. Integrative medicine is, according to Wikipedia because it offers a succinct answer, the combination of practices and methods of alternative medicine with evidence-based medicine. In my words, it’s an MD who has gone through “normal” medical school training but who has also received training in alternative/natural health care methods, like supplements, nutrition (did you know most medical schools offer no courses in nutrition?), etc.
I never, ever thought I would find an MD who shares my concerns about popping pills for whatever ails me, about treating symptoms instead of root causes, about treating specific body systems instead of the whole person. So when my doctor, at my annual appointment, discussed natural ways of balancing my hormones, including my hypothyroidism (not entirely natural there, but ways of treating it beyond just throwing some Synthroid at me), and supplements that can give me relief from allergy outbreaks (because I won’t take allergy pills), and she went through my lab results line by line explaining them and telling me either how awesome they were or what we could do to improve them (naturally, of course), etc. etc. etc., I literally called my husband in excitement when the appointment was over.
And not just because it was covered by insurance. (But it was!)
So yeah. I may be a health geek. A natural/alterative health freak. My dad now calls me the food nazi (which is yet another blog post). But I am feeling, at 42, awesome and healthy and unchemicalized and unpharmaceuticalized and…did I mention I adore my doctor?
** I feel the need to say that I know several doctors personally and they are all good people. My beef is more with the philosophy behind medicine in this country…not the people themselves.