Friday, April 13, 2012

High Stakes in Medicine

The only difference between an oncologist's exam room and a regular exam room, as far as I can tell, is that the stakes are higher.  I had plenty of time to take in my surroundings while I waited for the oncologist today.  The environment felt no different than a regular doctor's office, but for some reason, my blood pressure registered higher there.  I think that relates to the high stakes of the oncologist's office.

My doctor referred me to the oncologist as a precaution since some of my tests of a month ago left questions that still need to be answered.  The doctor today became the next in a long line of doctors who hypothesize, but never formally diagnose, that I have endometriosis.  Luckily, his non-diagnosis came on the heels of his being "pretty positive" that I don't have ovarian cancer.  He ordered one more test to be sure.  

So I'm moving on to solving the pain problem with Western medicine telling me to inject myself with hormones and holistic medicine telling me to treat it naturally.  I'm going to start with the natural and continue to consult with the Western doctors as I move forward.

My shifts in balance are already starting to take an effect.  I feel less stressed, and I find myself thinking less about what I have to get done and more about what I can accomplish in the space and time I have allotted.  My shift in healthy eating is challenging, but I am making progress.  Today I took a tour of my grocery store with my nutritionist , and happily I have narrowed down 12 aisles of shopping to 3 aisles and 4 pockets.  I know what I need to buy at the health food store and what I can purchase at the grocery store (and what I need to order from the local farm).  I've got a list of "safe" companies that are not trying to trick me with healthy-like labeling, and I know a few of the red-flag ingredients that will encourage me to return a product to a shelf.

Healthy eating is hard work; gaining the knowledge, shopping for the right products, and preparing non-processed meals takes time and effort.  However, in just a few weeks my focus on nutrition and overall health, including reduced stress, has given me more energy.  I'm continuing to learn, and I'm hopeful that attention to what goes into my body and the outside stresses placed upon me will ultimately help my body to be healthy and strong, fighting disease and pain naturally.

The debates about health care are often misinformed, and it isn't my intention to debate the merits of Western or Eastern medicine.  I believe both are based in science and healing, and each has its place in the care and treatment of individuals.  My experience this past month, however, has shown me how difficult it is to practice medicine in the US.  The oncologist today seemed somewhat surprised that my doctor referred me to him.  I imagine that looking at the whole picture and comparing it to the pictures he sees regularly with his patients, he saw little reason to be concerned.  From my primary doctor's perspective, however, I understand her referral.  If not for the peace of mind of a second opinion (which is always a good thing, I think), my doctor would certainly be concerned about malpractice if she missed a diagnosis.  

I have believed for the last month that I am cancer free, and I am happy to follow Western medical tests to confirm that diagnosis.  On the flip side, I believe what my holistic caregivers tell me - that treating my body well is the best way to remain cancer free.  So while I felt a bit guilty today taking an appointment with a prestigious oncologist, an appointment that could have been given to someone else, I feel reassured to move forward with my plan for achieving balance with a healthy body and mind.  Hopefully, I will not need to feel the high stakes of the oncologist's examining room again. 

1 comment:

  1. Never feel guilt over gaining peace of mind, my love. Good post today.