Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Playing Doctor

It’s horrible having digestive trouble.

You learn to not take anything for granted any more. When you have a “good day”, you are so ecstatic you don’t know where to begin to make up for lost time. Time that’s lost on the “bad days” when you have no energy, feel sick to your stomach, are on the toilet ½ the day, or are doubled over with cramps and pain. On the bad days, which usually outnumber the good days unfortunately, you question “why go on”? It can be so utterly depressing and feel so hopeless.

For those of us with debilitating digestive issues, what’s especially depressing about this situation is that the medical “experts” we consult are often of no use to us if they cannot find something “wrong” with us after performing all the usual tests. It’s important to understand why. Doctors are not required to take any nutrition classes throughout their entire medical education.

Why don’t doctors, especially gastroenterologists, even think to link diet with digestive issues? After all, Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, said eons ago, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. What went wrong?

We veered away from the knowledge that older generations had about the medicinal properties of chicken soup, how ginger helps with nausea, that chamomile soothes. The medical community unfortunately developed a drug-based bias and tossed the conventional wisdom that people knew all along because there was no money in it. We started worshipping doctors and believed everything they told us. People never question doctors. Hey, people say, my doctor never told me I needed to stop eating _____ to ward off _____ (fill in the blanks). So why would we link food to health if even our doctors aren’t telling us to?

What floors me in this Internet age is that there is a tremendous amount of information available to each and every single one of us. You’d think your doctor would do some research, but alas, he’s too busy golfing or buying a Tesla. So what are you to do? Wait for your doctor to come around and start caring about you? Why waste even more time having “bad days”? Start doing your own research.

Google is your friend. And as we all know, it’s a rabbit hole. Once you Google something, you suddenly find yourself off on a tangent, reading about something else. That’s ok when you’re doing research. That’s exactly what happened to me. While investigating one thing I ended up on a different path. I think I learned a lot that way, just going with the flow, allowing myself to venture off course a little. I did start to see patterns in what I was reading and a lot of overlap, so I figured I was on the right path because all roads eventually led to Rome. That’s when you know you’re on to something.

Just now I googled “Let food be thy medicine” and found an interesting article from Johns Hopkins University that I think is worth reading. It gives me some hope that even mainstream medical communities are finally waking up to this reality:

If you are suffering from any digestive ailment, I encourage you to start reading, exploring, and researching on your own. Read quality stuff though. Visit the NIH (National Institute of Health) website. Read medical papers if you can find something written in layman’s terms. Don’t trust the drivel written on quack websites and Better Homes and Garden. 

If you are not getting the answers you should be getting from your doctor, fire him and find another one. Do not feel badly that you are dumping him. He works for YOU and if he is stubborn and adamant that your lingering problems are not in any way related to food, or won’t approve a test that could conclusively diagnose a problem, he is not helping you. Find someone else.

My hope is that you have a doctor that you trust and respect and that trusts and respects you. Tell her what you’ve learned in your research and that you want certain tests done and why. Be prepared to support your requests with what you’ve read has worked for others.  On many forums I’ve read about people that end up teaching their doctors something new! The best doctors, in my opinion, are those without an ego, who want to learn because they truly want to be of help to their patients. They are open to expanding their knowledge, so that they in turn can help others.

I believe that we need to collaborate with our medical providers. We are in this together. And we should be solving our digestive problems together, looking for new methods and treatments, exploring both allopathic and alternative options, being open-minded to all possibilities.

Sometimes you have to play doctor yourself.

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