Doctors failed me, and I’m not sure how I feel about alternative medicine.

DocThe idea of alternative medicine is half really interesting and half really terrifying.  I’m a natural born sceptic, but I also don’t believe that Western medicine has exactly nailed it when it comes to treatment.  In fact, my experience with doctors recently has been pretty negative.

Before I received any form of treatment for my endometriosis, I decided to do diet therapy.  This meant cutting out a whole bunch of foods, all processed foods and making things from scratch.  The idea was to 1) help control inflammation (some foods like caffeine, sugar increase pain and inflammation) 2) clear estrogens from the body (endo thrives on estrogen) and 3) limit toxins that enter the body (organic foods only etc).  This made complete sense to me, and changing my diet, although difficult, really helped with pain and managing my symptoms.

I also went to see a naturopathic doctor because I was on a 3 month waiting list, just to see an ObGyn, meaning I had a diagnosis, but was getting no treatment.  I didn’t find the naturopath helped very much, and it could be because I am very sceptical.  I told her about my symptoms and she prescribed a diet (the same as I was already doing), supplements and herbs including (St. John’s wart and Chaste Tree).  The herbs I could never fully get on board with.  I tried them for a couple of months, but can’t say I noticed any specific change or benefit that I wasn’t already getting from the diet.

Then it finally came time for me to see my specialist and all hell broke loose.  He did not tell me much during the appointment I’d been waiting 3 months for.  Instead, he sent me for another ultrasound and a test called a sonohysterogram and booked another appointment for me 1 month later.  It felt like a wasted appointment and I had to wait another month for any recommendations or treatment.  I continued my diet and just before my next appointment, went for the tests he’d requested.  The day after the sonohysterogram, I was in severe pain.  I called his office and he prescribed me painkillers.  The next day, I still had severe pain, and a fever to go along with it.  I asked my fiance to take me to emergency because I felt something was seriously wrong and my doctor wasn’t getting to it.  That was the beginning of a severe infection, a two-week hospital stay, a near hysterectomy  and a 10 week course of antibiotics.

My stay in the hospital was a complete nightmare, the doctors were guessing at what was wrong with me, putting me through tons of tests, I was getting weaker and sicker, I got an unrelated lung infection, and my ObGyn was hell bent on giving me a hysterectomy.  He actually had me staying in the surgery prep room, and I felt like he was standing over me with a scalpel and wicked grin, all set to slice and dice me.  I refused to do anything he suggested after that.   I then got a second opinion from another ObGyn who suggested treatment for me in the form of a drugs that could possibly shrink my cysts, while a course of antibiotics could hopefully kill the infection.  Hey, that doesn’t sound so bad.  Can we please try that first before gutting me?  Thanks.

They gave me more needles and more tests, and by the time I left the hospital, I was sicker than I’d ever been.  At home, I was still hooked up to an IV, I could barely eat, and the only places I could go were my bed, bathroom and couch.   I looked like I was 5 or 6 months pregnant and there was a whole bunch of pressure on my other organs from the inflammation causing pain and other problems.  It took about 8 weeks for my stomach to shrink down, and 10 weeks on antibiotics to get rid of the infection the sonohysterogram gave me.  Now, the cysts are still bigger than they were before my doctor started messing with me.  So, while I’m grateful that the antibiotics worked and were able to kill the infection without me having to go through a hysterectomy, I wouldn’t have had that infection had it not been for a botched, unnecessary procedure that nearly caused me to lose my uterus.

The thing I’ve learned is this; doctors aren’t god and most of the time they’re making an educated guess about things.  That’s okay, the human body is complex, I get it and they’re only humans with 8 years of education or whatever.  But it’s something we have to be aware of.  What a doctor says and what a doctor recommends may not always be the right thing for you.  One thing that is repeated often when you seek out alternative therapies, is that Western medicine treats a symptom and doesn’t look at how the body as a whole is working or what is happening with the rest of the body or where the cause might lie, which seems to be a more important question.

I personally think our diets and lifestyle are really important.  We know that stress causes a lot of health problems, both physically and mentally.  So, many people have turned to meditation and yoga which has been shown to alleviate many health problems.  I’m on board with this because it makes sense to me.  There is clear evidence that being in a constant state of stress can cause serious health problems and that being in a state of relaxation can provide many benefits to the body and some say even heal the body.  Relaxation triggers the parasympathetic nervous system which is the “rest and digest” mode of our body which ensures all our necessary body functions, such as digestion, and immune system are working as they should, it also allows the release of good chemicals like endorphins and dopamine that make us feel good mentally.  Stress triggers the sympathetic nervous system which puts us in our “fight or flight” mode, this shuts down all our other systems and allows us to get out of a dangerous situation.   Constant stress will keep you in the fight or flight mode and stress hormones can be released which, in abundance, do damage, and other body functions can remain shut down or begin not working properly.  It’s true.

So since Western medicine has been a big FAIL for me, I’m again seeking out alternative medicine.  Not to say I’m totally rejecting Western medicine, but I’d still like to see if there is anything that can be done along with my “treatment” from my ObGyn (who I actually fired and replaced…yep, that felt good).   And, as a side note, I was living overseas in Japan and India and I had a baby no probs, no complications in 2008.  I’ve been back in North America for 5 years and suddenly I have severe endometriosis and possible infertility.  What gives? Diet is different, for sure.  Lifestyle is different, definitely.  It’s time to open our minds to other possibilities, and maybe not necessarily start popping the first pill the first doctor prescribes.

Do you believe in alternative medicine? Have you tried anything “woo woo” out there? 

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2 thoughts on “Doctors failed me, and I’m not sure how I feel about alternative medicine.

  1. Thanks for sharing your story. It really paints a vivid picture of what happens in our medical system. And to know that your ordeal started with a useless and likely unnecessary test. This makes me mad! Meditation is a great healer. I am glad you are incorporating that into your regime.

    • Thanks Patty! I’m really trying with the meditation, but find it very difficult. I have an untamed mind :). I have to think of it as exercise for the brain though and realize that with practice I’ll get better at it.

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