Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wishing all doctors were GOOD doctors

We'd like to believe that our doctor knows what she's doing. We might not think about it much, but usually, we assume she had good grades and studied hard and now she keeps up on current medical research and listens to our symptoms and tries to find the root cause.

In reality, that's not always the case. In fact, an old joke is unfortunately all to accurate:

What do you call a man who has the lowest passing grade in medical school?


Yeah...scary to think about sometimes, isn't it? Not as though this is unknown, though. At this point, most of us are familiar with the 'bell curve' and how often it applies to human beings and their abilities Why should doctors be any exception? The majority of doctors fall right in the middle of the bell curve - average.

Wow - not too many good doctors, eh?

What this means to us, in my opinion, is this: if you have average problems, your average doctor who got average grades and does an average job will probably be just fine.

If you have anything out of the ordinary, unusual, or less common, your average doctor will not be as much help. In fact, they will probably miss it, ignore it, attribute it as 'all in your head' or 'anxiety,' or treat the symptoms without ever trying to track down the cause. (Your baby has been spitting up so much it's essentially vomiting every day? Here, let me prescribe an anti-emetic until they outgrow this. I'm sure there's no physical cause for her to do this thing that healthy babies don't do, even though I haven't checked out what you're feeding her.)

This is, IMO, becoming a HUGE problem.

Because here in the USA, we seem to be acquiring more and more 'less common' problems. And what I'm hearing about the doctors' reactions, from news and friends and family and acquaintances through the webiverse, makes me even more concerned.

  • Food allergies are increasing. Been researched and documented. They can have emotional, mental, and physical effects.
  • Auto-immune diseases are increasing. Again, researched and documented. They, too, can have emotional, mental, and physical effects.
  • There is a correlation between pesticides and ADD/ADHD symptoms in children.
  • There is a connection between certain food dyes and a number of problems, including hyperactivity and ADD/ADHD.

This research is out there in credited publications, it's easy to find (or I wouldn't have found it), and I'd believe it even without too much research because I've experienced it myself. Like when I wake up absolutely furious for no godly reason, simply because I've eaten corn the day before.

I've seen it in my son, who, when given dairy, would have out of control rages and every little stumbling block in his path would send him into a torrent of tears or another raging fit. Guess what disappears when you take his 'bad' foods out of his diet?

I've seen it in my daughter, who had crying jags that last hours, no matter how comforted she is or what the problem is, whenever she ingests gluten.

Talk to people who have non-life threatening food allergies, or auto-immune diseases like celiacs and autism and MS, and you will find many among them who had significant emotional or mental changes once they changed their diets.

So, why does this matter? It matters because THIS is also going on:
-Psychiatrists are talking about an increase in mental disorders in children, like ADD and ADHD. The parents I have spoken to, both on-line and in person, who have children that have been diagnosed with this? Most have never had a doctor mention the possibility of looking at what their children were eating.

-There are diagnosis like Operational Defiant Disorder, which is described as this: "...Kids with ODD lose their temper quickly and often. They’re easily annoyed and frustrated by other people, resentful and hostile with adults, bossy and pushy with other kids. They blame everyone else for their difficulties and make excuses for their inability to cope..." (raising small souls, ODD)

Wow...that sounds exactly like my son when he's on his bad foods. Huh. Who'd of thought. *ugh*

The best part, to me, is how many of these kids have OTHER symptoms to boot. Like frequent stomach pains, constant illness, chronic sinus or ear infections, diarrhea or constipation. And still, in the people I speak to, food was almost never looked at as a cause.

A child is complaining about problems that involve their digestive tract, and food is not looked at. They are having infections and are sick all the time - which is not normal - and it's not being considered that perhaps there might be something affecting the entire body, something systemic, like, perhaps, an auto-immune disease. Or an allergy. Heck, even parasites.

You know what? Every mom in the freaking WORLD first thinks about food when their child complains of stomach pains, because that tends to be logical, and yet so many doctors are not? 0.o That's honestly shameful.

For some of these kids whose parents I've talked to, the children have been put on drugs. Some of the parents have been told by their doctor that their child needs counseling because the stomach pains and behavior issues are based on stress, anxiety, a need for attention, or a desire to avoid school. Of course, this has usually happened without any examination of their diet, any tests for diseases or conditions that can affect mood and gut. Without even any questions that would give information on whether a child should be tested for certain diseases or conditions.

This needs to stop, and I think we patients need to play a big part in that. Because we and our kids are the ones who will suffer if it doesn't change.

When we discover something about our health that contradicts a previous doctor's half-assed diagnosis? We should write and tell him.

When we figure out problems with our health that could have been discovered previously if our doctor had actually listened to us instead of interrupting? We should write and tell her.

When a doctor is excellent, and listens, and finds out what weird thing is going on in our body? We should write and tell her.

And when a doctor works with us to try and figure out why we are sick? Even if he doesn't find the answers, we should write and tell him how much his work means to us, because we need to encourage the good doctors as much as we need to inform other doctors that they are screwing up.

And maybe, if there's enough of us, we can help them build their awareness so they can improve and they can help us in return.

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