Saturday, January 29, 2011

Doctors' Ignorance and Lyme's Extent

Right now, there are thousands of people right here in the U.S. of A. who are being misdiagnosed and poisoned. They complain of chronic fatigue, allergies, arthritis, dizziness, depression, irritable bowel syndrome and more, and doctors are putting them on pain meds, anti-depressants, and turning them away without further investigation.

Why, oh, why is this happening? Shouldn't a doctor want to get to the bottom of their patient's health? Personally, I'm not satisfied until I solve a problem, no matter what I'm dealing with in my life. If you asked my friends, they'd tell you I've vary between "detective" mode and "teacher", always seeking knowledge and solutions, with a sense of obligation to share this info with everyone. So if I were a doctor by trade, I'd do the same for my patients.

My Personal Creed
1. Educate Self
2. Investigate
3. Draft Plan of Action

4. Apply Plan
5. Review/Alter Plan if Necessary
6. Inform Public

But I stereotype, speaking only of the majority of doctors. It's also our responsibility as patient to find the doctors who look at the body holistically (as a whole system that is related, not defined by individual parts) when we're dealing with massive, chronic illness. And I, for one, hadn't learned this yet as I hopped from doctor to doctor over the last 20 years.

As a result, I had allergists focusing only on my allergies--quick to point blame at my cats, my pillows, my yard--and gastroenterologists looking only at my stomach for disease or deformity. At one time, I thought primary care physicians, who tout a wealth of general knowledge of wellness, would be able to put the pieces together surrounding illnesses in different organs and systems in my body, but every single one of them chalked it up to stress or hypochondria instead.

I'm not anti-Western-medicine, but I believe it's broken. Just as soon as doctors become more interested in filling their patients with daily regimens of symptom-relieving drugs than curing the illness, we may as well all give up. Likewise, I don't think nutrition or herbs are enough alone. While maintaining a healthy diet and taking immune-boosting supplements is indeed important for maintaining health, that regimen alone isn't going to cure diseases like cancer, AIDS, viruses, bacteria, parasites, and Lyme disease.

Along my journey towards wellness, I read books about my conditions. And more books. And more books. Books about the dangers of sugar, balancing hormones, adrenal fatigue, candida and yeast, anxiety disorders, chemical sensitivities, gluten intolerance, dairy intolerance, nutrition, exercise, meditation, the Western diet, and more. As a single woman in her 20s, far removed from family and truly independent--albeit struggling every moment--it was all I could do to educate myself when nobody was helping.

As a result of all my reading, I've acquired a wealth of knowledge, some of which doctors would dispute. It's not to say I know more than them--I can tell you straight up that my chemistry and bio skills are subpar at best. They did spend years in med school, so they're a leg (or a whole body) ahead of me. But doctors don't talk to their patients about the ways our popular American diets are causing disease. (For instance, coffee and soda are destroying our adrenal glands, thyroid glands, and stomach lining.) And doctors aren't taking note of the relationships between our various systems.

I guess it's a sort-of take on the Butterfly Effect, but I staunchly believe that everything in our body is a unified and connected system, and everything affects everything. Your severe menstrual cramps aren't a separate problem from your allergies. Your goiter isn't unrelated to your irritable bowel. Your arthritis and joint swelling is certainly not independent from your migraines. It goes on and on.

But many of us end up addicted to pain pills, anxiety pills, antacids, and more. Curing the disease can actually stop the pain, anxiety and heartburn. Imagine no longer needing your pills.

Doctors, listen up! Listen to your patients, pinpoint the problem, then cure it!

I believe we are vastly under-diagnosed. Lyme disease is growing at epidemic proportions, and you needn't have even had a tick bite to be infected. There's new evidence that mosquitoes and fleas carry it, mothers pass it to their fetuses, blood transfusions have infected some, and sexual activity can even pass it along. Saying "I've never had a tick on me" is no longer credible defense against Lyme. Besides, you may have had a tick on you for a few hours and never seen it before it fell off.

If anybody reading this suffers from chronic illness such as fatigue, weakness, a sensitive stomach, fibromyalgia, allergies, anxiety and other illnesses, I highly recommend you find a Lyme-literate doctor (LLMD) in your area. Seeing just any doctor, unfortunately, isn't going to cut it. Medical school is still way behind on what's current, and since chronic Lyme is still relatively new, I'm guessing it's not a standard course being taught--or taught at all--in med school. Boy do I hope that changes soon.

I've known for 20 years there was something still undetected that was attacking my body. It's not just Lyme disease but a host of other chronic viruses, bacteria and likely parasites (awaiting confirmation on the latter).

While doctors can be helpful--and even life-saving--my advice to anyone suffering would be not to take your doctor's word as truth or fact. Trust yourself. You know if something isn't adding up. You know your own body much better than any doctor does. If what he/she is saying doesn't sit well with you, you're probably right.