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Trusting Yourself Over Your Medical Professional

Something that people often forget is that they are the authority on their own bodies, not a doctor. Aside from cases of quarantined outbreaks or unstable individuals who might cause harm to themselves or others, people need to make their own choices about their healthcare and trust themselves over their providers.

And with that responsibility, comes even more responsibility. Responsibilities that include doing the research on the medication they're being prescribed, the diet suggested to them, the exercises recommended, and what the other professionals are saying about their affliction (allopathic and alternative). That's where the hard part comes in; it's often easier to have choices made for us rather than have to make our own.

When you meet anyone who has the title "Dr," come prepared, studied, and ready with questions about the treatment plan. Your provider should be prepared to answer questions, listen to your concerns, and share knowledge about what they know in this regard. If they don't have answers, that's okay, as long as the response is "I will find out," "this is where you could get those answers," or "let's see what this book says." If the answer is something like "that's not important," "I don't deal with that," or "you're wasting my time" well then it's time to find a new doctor.

Case in point, back in my younger days, when I was getting ready to travel and I was a bit naive about malaria and medication to take for it (this is a whole topic within itself), I decided to see my gastroentrologist. Dealing with IBS, I had lost most of the healthy bacteria which had resided in my gut from being overprescribed antibiotics. This was something I was already dealing with because I hadn't had the confidence or the choice as a child to resist taking antibiotics, despite hearing the dangers of them on the news in the late 80's.

I made an appointment specifically to ask this doctor, who I'd been seeing for years, about deoxycyclone, a popular antibiotic used to protect people from malaria. It was the only affordable option and I would be on the other side of the Pacific for several months in post tsunami conditions. I was losing faith in this guy and I thought I'd let this be the test as to whether or not I could trust him. His answer to my concern about deoxycyclone? "Well Jonas, I really don't deal with that kind of thing so..."

"Yes," I dryly interrupted him "but you do have a little blue book that explains the side effects of all the drugs in existence. I pay a lot of money to have insurance and this was my only reason for making this appointment. So why don't go get that book and explain it to me." There was fire in my eyes so he threw up his hands and stamped off to his office, making it clear that I was inconveniencing him.

He returned, with an apologetic smile to say "Yes, well it can take up some of the good bacteria. Just eat some yogurt everyday, that should do it." Actually no, yogurt would not replace it that easily and that was the last time I ever saw him. I would like to say that this doc was an exception to the way most of his peers think, but sadly, he was highly rated among the medical community of Phoenix, Arizona. I didn't take any malaria medication and it would have been a mistake to do so.

I'm not here to trash doctors or traditional Western medicine, we need them. I sure as hell don't want to go to an acupuncturist or bodyworker immediately following a car accident. I'm just here to reinforce the importance of giving the patient choices and not putting undying faith into medical professionals that run a protocol rather than giving each individual case the time and care it deserves. The only way we can change this standard in modern medicine is by doing more research, demanding attention and humility from our providers (from an educated place), and making choices about them using this criteria.

I don't have the education of an MD, but I do have some knowledge of anatomy and I do know what I pick up from my clients when they come in for a session. I avoid speaking in absolutes, I ask my clients what their priority is for their visits (despite how many health issues they might be facing), and I respect their choices. When I make recommendations for them to return, if they don't feel they need anymore sessions, I tell them "I have an obligation to make a recommendation as your provider, but you know your body and intuition best."

Let's put the power back in the hands of the patient, not the provider.

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