Friday, February 28, 2014

TMI: Lying to Doctors; My Paradigm Shift

EcoYogini considers the balancing act of health care....

A year and a half ago I went to see a Naturopathic Doctor for the first time. It forever changed how I view my healthcare and the medical field. I blogged about it here, on the Booth (as scary as that was sharing my story, I think it's important to share our challenges. Women are so secretive and private, which at times does us no favours).

Oh I know you've heard this "skeptic/cynic turned believer" type story a zillion times. I'm not sure how to make you understand that MY naturopathic experience is legit... I mean- you the reader don't know me. Sure I'm into yoga and I'm kinda granola (and fairly spiritual in a non-christian sense) so I guess in a lot of ways I run against the norm.

But I'm a science gal through and through. I BELIEVE in science. I'm a health professional, I have to. And I thought, until two weeks ago, I would have never lied to a medical professional.

Between October 2012 and now something changed. Oh, I still firmly believe in the western medical system... but I no longer trust they will see the whole picture.

Last week I went to see a second gynaecologist. Despite my success with the Naturopath in essentially completely fixing my 7 year history of excessive spotting (resulting in essentially being on my moontime for 60-70% of every month, hooray DivaCup), there's one small problem. A little"bean" of a problem. Yeah... it's been almost a year and well... no mini-me.

Honestly, I'm not surprised. It's fairly evident that, well, my cycle isn't really normal. So, a quick appointment with my family physician for a gyno referral (a new, fabulous francophone physician!), and automatically assumed that western medicine would be my trusted companion on this next journey. Sure, my previous experience left me (albeit reassured that I was cancer-free) high and dry with the "there's nothing we can do for you, live with a period for 60-70% of your life" answer, but this is more serious business. This is procreation we're talking here!

I assumed I would attend the appointment, share in an embarrassed voice my foray into the ("most certainly placebo" I would murmur) effect of the Naturopathic tincture and bow down to the wise perspective of the gyno.

Instead. Instead I totally lied through my teeth. We lied as to how long we've been trying (because they won't see you unless it's been a year... and well it will be a year in a month so... when we made the referral in December we said it had been a year to get in), we lied about the past few months... I found myself sharing my year of failed temperature tracking expecting them to agree that obviously no pattern whatsoever meant that something was not right.

But he didn't even come close to listening. I found myself irritated with the doctor's disregard and patronizing dismissal of my concerns regarding my effed up cycle. His concern that perhaps the tincture was interfering with conception and "Would I consider stopping for a few months?".

I left that appointment happy that I got the physical and medical tests we'll need to make sure everything physical about our systems were working properly and utterly disgusted with how little we were listened to and disappointed with how much of the whole picture the gyno missed. Because in no way would our ability to create a new life would be affected by returning to one week of spotting-free life. Nah, that's totally normal and not prohibitive in the least.

The following week I had an appointment with my Naturopath. It was while I was sitting in her office, being COMPLETELY truthful with her, saying the words: "well I lied to him, but with you I'm being honest" and "I'll stop for two months just to get the gyno off my back, because obviously it's not the tincture" that I realized that I no longer trust the western system. I see the system as a means to get what I need done. My Naturopathic Doctor though, I trust her implicitly to listen to my concerns in a non-judgemental way, that she'll recommend western treatments and support my decision to also consult my medical doctors in all ways. I mean, I didn't lie to her.

Essentially, I have taken that last step across the Naturopathic medicine line in the sand into Naturo-town. I now believe that diet, vitamins, nutrients and yoga can truly influence my health.

Now I am left to navigate this balance between choosing what and whom will be useful in the western box for my health while following through what will work in the "alternative" box. I guess this is the reality: the best decisions in life and health are always harder. It would just be easier to blindly follow another's advice/recommendations and it's always more difficult to be the leader in your own care.


s.e. said...

I haven't had much luck with naturopaths but I have a great herbalist:) My experience is that a lot of doctors agree that diet and lifestyle affect your health. Good luck figuring out what to do next.

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

You should dump your OB and find some Certified Nurse Midwives! I love my midwives and they were totally open to alternative practices -- of course a lot of them now have clinical research backing them up -- chiropractors, acupuncturists, etc.

I think a lot of people go through this with western medicine. It is one paradigm and it has many strengths but its own biases. My sister has had much more success for her issues with a naturopath. Also, keep in mind that somebody graduated at the bottom of their class. My friend went to Harvard Med School and she told me you wouldn't believe the dummies that got in even there -- so ALWAYS get a second opinion for anything big.

Also, does this mean your constant bleeding is gone??? I hope so! That would be wonderful news.

Eco Yogini said...

@se: yes definitely my GP is fabulous and supportive. :) It was just a frustrating specialist appointment, which is annoying since technically I would be considered under the 'specialist' category....

@Betsy: Ahhh, now THAT is a whole other post. In Nova Scotia there's a huge amount of controversy and challenges around midwifery and doulas. Sad really.

And YES the Naturopath totally fixed my cycle. It was magic and life altering. Although... I am stopping the tincture for two months just to prove to the gyno that it isn't the tincture that is prohibitive in the procreation department....

Anonymous said...

I totally hear you. Thanks for writing this. I have felt the same growing distrust, and as though the doctor is staring straight through me when I talk about things like charting or adrenal fatigue or whatever. It makes me not want to be honest, because it hurts to be misunderstood.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for such an interesting post. I have found myself moving more and more toward a skeptic mindset over the last few years. I believe eating the right food and exercise are keys to good health, but am mistrustful of 'alternative' medicine. However, I agree with you that Western medicine seems to suffer from tunnel vision. I have that same experience of not being heard and regularly dismissed when I have to talk to a regular doctor. I have to be extremely ill or in pain before I will go see anyone because of that.
Your post has really given me some new things to think about. I appreciate your TMI, and I look forward to learning more.


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