Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why I love modern medicine ...

I apparently have strep throat. I haven't had it since I was a kid and it really does hurt. So much so that by this morning the pain was referring up into my ears. I had to drag my sorry ass to the doctor this morning (I really just wanted to be in bed) but they gave me antibiotics and the verbal "pats on the head" that always at least feel emotionally good when I'm sick.

Here in Seattle I hear a lot of negative stuff about modern medicine. I guess I'm really lucky because I've had a couple really bad experiences with Western doctors and a couple really bad experiences with Naturopaths. But on the whole I've had good experiences with doctors. Our family doctor (who is traditional Western medicine) is very sweet, caring and thorough and always takes into account not just our physical being but our emotional being and how we're all doing in the family. My rheumatologist stresses "quality of life" in my on-going treatment and will not insist I take a medication for rheumatoid arthritis that has bad side effects because what's the point of going from one bad symptom to another? And she stresses proper nutrition, checks my vitamin D, calcium and iron levels and stresses that I "get enough exercise if I don't want to be crippled". Even my pharmacist told me today to take propbiotics with my antibiotics to keep my system balanced.

I did see a doctor years and years ago before I had insurance at a sliding scale clinic, who not only was rude to me, but completely misdiagnosed me. But then last year I went to see a Naturopath who told me my ear infection was actually a food allergy to wheat and why don't I pay her hundreds of dollars for a very expensive food allergy blood test and go on a special diet where I had to come back and see her every week (totally wrong diagnosis and would've been a huge waste of money!).

So, I feel like there are good and bad doctors in both types of medicine. And I feel like antibiotics and vaccines really have an important place at least in my life and with my family. And that is not popular with everyone in my social circle. And that's fine for them, but I feel bad for their kids. No one should have to be sick when it's not necessary. And I was just reminded of that today while my throat hurt so badly. It's one thing to deny oneself medical treatment but it's a whole different story if it's your child. One mother actually said to me once that she'd read an article somewhere (Salon or Vanity Fair or something like that) about how the polio vaccine was not necessary for her child because the vaccine was far more dangerous than polio - which wasn't that bad of a disease like the government said and would just strengthen her child's immune system if she got it. I told that to my friend Bill, who is in his 60's so has known people in his life who had polio and I thought his eyes were going to pop out of my head. He exclaimed much louder than he meant to, "Whoooooa! You're kidding!?"

Ah, humans. We are a horrendously self-destruct bunch, aren't we?

There are so many things in this country that make no sense to me and I wonder why other people don't see them and I wonder if I'm the weird one. The propaganda against things that are actually good for you (in moderation) like vaccines, antibiotics, flouride in your tooth paste ... all because of what? Paranoia of "the man"? But then these same people trust "the man" to buy their fancy electronic gadgets and buy their trendy health drinks and herbal supplements that are just being sold by a big corporation who knows how to market to wanna-be-natural hippies. And on the flipside seeing what some neighborhood moms give their kids to eat - like these sodas that are literally just food coloring, water and high-fructose corn syrup, and seeing the crap that's on tv targeted toward kids. My friend, Darius once off-handedly said to me that once you start seeing the truth it makes you an out-cast ... but am I seeing the truth? Or is there really nothing wrong with being so far removed from nature? Maybe that's our destiny is to just become as fake as the food we eat and the plastic products we surround ourselves with and that's just the way it is. But I don't think so.

It just seems like so many decisions I see around me are not made because of coming up with one's own decision of what is good for a person or their family - instead it seems like so many decisions in the world are made by which advertiser the person decides to put their trust in. Which propaganda appeals to them more - the "traditional" or "the alternative" and then once that person chooses they stick with everything from that particular brand of propaganda. They buy everything from the "eco-friendly" companies (even if that is just their brand and not the reality of who the company is) or they stick with the old-school names, not realizing that V8's second ingredient is high-fructose corn syrup so it's not *really* healthy. It's like all thought has gone out of decision making and it's easier just to listen to the marketing agents who appeal to one's idea of their values.


  1. It's so nice to hear another "voice of reason" out there! It seems as a country we've lost our ability to moderate and gravitate to one extreme or another, primarily because of branding and fear mongering.

    Mc Donald's once a month is not going to make your kids obese, and dousing your home with antibiotics is not going to protect them from all cooties (and might even make them more likely to get sick).

    People who make serious decisions about their children's health issues based on an article in Vanity Fair over advice from their family Doctor are in a "special" category all their own. It's unfortunate their children may have to pay for their ignorance.

    Praise be unto you for shining the light of truth and reason onto topics such as this!

  2. Here in Seattle is also a great medical school (big on family medicine), and a fabulous Children's Hospital (where I spent too much time during my oldest son's first few years).

    So sorry to see you have strep! There was a time a bit over ten years ago that we had a continual rounds of strep in our family.

    I actually caught it from the guy sitting next to me on a plane to Arizona. Then I gave it to my younger son, MathMan* (who was about seven). Somehow we managed to get through my sister's wedding, but left early because the kids and I all felt terrible. Though when we got to my other sister's house, I got worse... and had an asthma attack due to the mold released when the swamp cooler was started. I was actually talking to a the Polyclinic doctor on call when I literally stopped breathing, had to hang up and call 911.

    Some really nice fireman showed up, calmed me down, gave me oxygen and the directions to the nearest hospital. Where both MathMan and I were diagnosed with strep.

    Come back to Seattle, recover... only to have BigBoy (9 years old) and the Linguist (4 years old) get strep. Just after the Linguist recovered I took her to a pool party even though I was not feeling well (the pool heater was malfunctioning, so it was very warm --- but felt wonderful to me). I had strep again. So another round of antibiotics for me.

    Then it was the Linguist's fifth birthday party at a dance studio (bought it at a school auction). She was out of sorts. Turned out she had strep again. And so did Big Guy (sometimes known as BigBoy).

    Back on antibiotics.

    After the second round of antibiotics, our family doctor said something was not right. He said the quick test for strep has some inaccuracies so he wanted all five of us to come to the office to get swabbed for a traditional over the weekend test for the bacteria. So I pulled the boys out of school early, and we were all squeezed into an exam room getting throat swabs.

    So Monday morning comes, and the doctor called to tell us all three kids had strep, but not the parents (because adults are better at hand washing). During the whole time BigBoy and the Linguist were getting sick with fevers, the MathMan was healthy. Except he wasn't. He was infected but showed no symptoms. Just as the other two got better, he infected them again.

    So a round of antibiotics for all three, and the cycle of strep was broken.

    The point of this long story is that *&^%$#! strep bacteria are evil, and you will not get immunity from actually getting it! Also some kids will a disease without symptoms, so beware! Oh, and wash your hands.

    And make sure kids wash their hands. One of the more stupid things I did in designing our house was to have the main floor powder room right off the living room. Though it worked well in knowing when a kid did not wash his/her hands and convenient to remind the child of that fact!

    * Guide to kids and me can be found here. WildernessBarbie, you might like that site (by the way, McDonald's was fabulous when we were building our house --- we collected a whole set of teeny tiny Tonka construction toys for the boys there!). Don't be alarmed, I breastfed and actually made baby food.

  3. Chris - your story is one of the reasons I'm so happy about the discovery of antibiotics. Strep (and any bacteria) is evil in that way that we don't develop an immunity to it like with viruses. I was thinking about a couple hundred years ago when they didn't have antibiotics where you just hoped strep didn't turn into Scarlet Fever and leave you blind, deaf or dead. I'm so grateful that after just three doses of antibiotic my throat doesn't hurt at all this morning! I'm still exhausted with swollen glands but it's easier to rest now.

    It looks like there was supposed to be a link in your comment but on my page it isn't showing up?

    Yeah, McDonalds is actually not that bad (besides washing their beef in ammonia but then those brands of beef are sold in grocery stores too). We like their kids meal with the apples and carmel sauce and the toys are pretty cool. It's a good treat every month or two when my daughter's done something to earn it I've found. I'll be sad if they are forced by lawsuits to no longer have toys in the Happy Meals just because some parents don't know how to take responsibility for saying no to their kids and actually being parents.

  4. Edit: never mind Chris - when I got to this page (the non-edit page) your link works.