I recently decided to go see a doctor. Big deal, right?
At age 24, for the first time in my life, I chose the doctor that I wanted to go see, and not the doctor my parents had chosen for me. It kind of was a big deal. Upon doing some research, I began to understand the importance of choosing the right doctor for you, and all the various doctors available in my area.
I made an appointment online with a doctor who claims to be more into the holistic side of medicine. Integrative medicine is a combination of conventional medicine with alternative or complementary treatments; Mostly, it’s medicine with a focus on the whole person, not just the disease. Since I’m seemingly healthy, active, and happy, I figured I’d consider something of the non-traditional variety.
A couple of days prior to my appointment, I was called by the doctor’s office and asked for some details about my appointment. They wanted to know the meaning of my visit, because I had simply put down ‘general consultation’. I explained that I was healthy, but just wanted to meet with the doctor and ask about things I could do to be healthier. She responded with an “OK” that seemed to be more on the hesitant side, like she wanted to know more. I thought the response I received was a little odd, but I didn’t really think much about it.
Fast forward a few days and I’m now at the doctors office, getting weighed in following my name being called. The nurse then asks me why I was here, to which I eagerly replied with the same answer as before. Again, just like the woman on the phone, she seemed rather confused at first. I understand that most people come to the doctor when they are sick, diseased, or when something has gone wrong, but to be rather surprised when someone has interest in preventative care is rather ridiculous to me. What’s wrong with being proactive about your health? I guess the real question is – Why aren’t others?
Due to the reactions I’d been getting, what started as excitement to learn more about my health, slowly turned into uneasiness and I began to doubt whether or not my reasons for coming were warranted.
Eventually, the doctor came in. She was very friendly, charismatic, and upbeat. I began to ask her a series of questions, mostly regarding diet and supplements she recommend I take. Frankly, the answers I received were reassuring at best. To her credit, though, she introduced me to Coenzyme Q-10, which I wasn’t too familiar with. Upon some research I found it’s an antioxidant that’s pretty beneficial, mostly as it pertains to heart and circulatory health, so I’ll probably start taking it. It also is found at very low levels in cancer patients, so as far as I’m concerned, if you have a lot of it your chances of cancer goes down. So thanks for that!
Overall, the responses I got after the first round of questions were very underwhelming. I realize I have a good understanding of biological and physiological sciences from my college studies, as well as research I’ve done on my own, but this was really disappointing for me. The answers I received from this doctor were probably no better than an answer Google could have provided me, except that one can only assume your doctor is a more reliable source.
I then asked her about my dry, itchy scalp. We talk about it for a moment and she prescribes me some special dandruff shampoo. I ask her if I can do something other than that, like change my diet, but she doesn’t have much to say about it. I was under the impression a more holistic doctor would have a lot more to say about it instead of immediately giving me a prescription. See my ‘No Poo’ trial and follow the updates!
Finally, I ask her about my shoulder. (Now I’m no doctor, but from research and years in the gym, I believe I have some slight scapular winging. I have my reasons for believing this, but will discuss it in a later post.) I tell her I believe I may have scapular winging and would like to know the next course of action she thinks I should take. She has me take off my shirt and turn around, arms at my side. She looks my back up and down, and says “no, you don’t have it.”
OK, now I’m actually very annoyed! If there’s one thing I know about scapular winging and the complexity of the shoulder in general, it’s that you cannot just simply eyeball it and tell your patient with assurance that “no, you don’t have it.” I accept her ridiculous diagnosis, if you would even call it that, and finish my consultation with the doctor. I have nothing more to ask her, especially now that her credibility was in question.
So here I was, rather confused about my experience. I received some small tidbits of useful information here and there, but overall this doctor’s visit was a complete waste of my time. I learned almost nothing when I had expected to learn so much.
But I did learn something.
I began to realize that I shouldn’t be disappointed with either the doctor or myself. Frankly, what should I have expected from a general M.D. ? These doctors know a little bit about a vast amount of information. How could I expect them to answer my specific questions, that which I have spent a lot of time researching on my own as it pertains to me? This led me to question the point of most general forms of healthcare for someone who is healthy and familiar with the inner workings of his/her own body. Sure, if a medical emergency arises you should seek medical attention immediately, but if not, then what’s the point? Once I’ve realistically diagnosed myself, shouldn’t I just go see a specialist to make sure? Should I only go to a general M.D. to get yearly blood work, scans, and other proactive tests?
At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own body and health. It is up to you to know everything about your condition, and know all treatment options. Every choice that you make, and even fail to make, as it pertains to your health is your responsibility and you must be ready for the consequences. Those who stand with you and advise you during those choices, be it doctors, nurses, or family, will do whatever they can to help, but it’s your body, not theirs.
Will you be sitting on your deathbed wondering why your doctor never warned you, or how you wish you would have listened to your body and the plethora of information out there to warn yourself?
Your health is your responsibility – Be proactive, do your homework, and do everything you can to protect it!