Thursday, October 23, 2008

Doctors and your health

I have been to the doctor a few times in the past week and I've began to wonder if people no longer take active part in their healthcare.

I have been having problems for a while now which I atributed to my gallbladder. Being that gallbladder issues are hereditary and other members of my family have had problems, it wasn't a stretch to think mine may be going awry.
As many times before, I have been procrastinating about seeing a doctor about it. I don't like taking medication and I will find alternative forms of healing for any ailment I have before I take a pill or antibiotic. I will do home remedies and the things my grandmother used to do to cure most of my ailments.

This time it is different. I can't find anything that will make my gallbladder better. So off to the doctor I went. Our family physician is one of those small town doctors, who practices in a small town, and treats all his patients like his family. I like him. Anyway, I told him what was wrong, he said it sounded like stones in my gallbladder, and gave me an order for an ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed there is a polyp growing in there, close the bile duct, and that's why my symptoms are very similar to those of people with stones.

Time to decide what to do next. If I had stones, I would have look for alternative ways to dissolve those stones so I could pass them. I'm not sure one can dissolve a polyp. I don't want to have it removed unless there are no more options. So the doctor sends me to see a surgeon who specializes in gall bladder removals.

I have to admit I was not going in there to schedule surgery. I figured this doctor would order another test to verify the existence of a problem, rather than just go on the results of one test.
I was quite surprised to find out he was ready to cut me open and take my gallbladder.

I won't bored you with the details of the conversation with the surgeon, but he seemed surprised and a bit uncomfortable because I questioned him regarding the proposed treatment for my ailment. I wasn't trying to be difficult, but this is my body we are talking about and I want to make sure no parts are removed unless it is needed.

The whole experience left me wondering if people no longer question their doctors. Why was this one so surprised and a bit uncomfortable with my questions? Did he think I would say ok to a surgery without having sufficient proof that this was the best course of action?

Perhaps we have become too complacent when it comes to healthcare. Maybe we are too quick to allow doctors to prescribe a remedy they think fits our situation without ever questioning them, or challenging them. I wonder if our healthcare costs, not to mention malpractice lawsuits, wouldn't be as high as they are if we actively participated in our care.

I am not a doctor and I am not denying they know more than I do about medicine. But in this day in age, all it takes is Google and a little time to find out what are common test and remedies for whatever ailment you've got. I knew there was another type of test that would show, without a doubt, the state of my gallbladder, and it wasn't an ultrasound. All I did was ask. I didn't sue, I didn't threaten, I just asked. The test is probably costly but I'm sure it is cheaper than having surgery that I may not need.

So I ask you, do you actively participate in your healthcare and that of your family? Or if the doctor says "take this medicine" or "give them this shot", you do it without asking what repercusions may come from it?


From the Doghouse said...

Too many people want a pill that will make things go away without any effort on their part. Look at all the late-night diet ads (lose weight while you sleep!) for proof.

Sandi said...

Reader's Digest had a piece a month or two ago about things your physician will never tell you ... one was a doctor who said his patients don't take responsibility for their own health. They don't exercise or eat right or get regular checkups. Then when something goes wrong, they run to the doctor saying "fix me." We would all do well to be more mindful of our health!