I recently filled out a Medicare survey. I found it impossible to convey all I needed to say by completing the form. Hence, I included this letter in the return envelope. Will it do any good? I doubt it. Still, I have a voice and if I can inspire others with similar thoughts, then maybe we can become a combined voice for change.
I don’t know who to address this letter to. I need to give more information on my relationship with doctors than can be found by filling in some boxes on a survey form.
My current doctor is the best AMA trained doctor I’ve ever worked with. However, spending 10 minutes in a follow-up appointment leaves no time for true connection or to address the emotional concerns every patient has, especially those with chronic conditions.
I have a rare medical condition for which there is currently no treatment (meaning there is not an expensive pill with ridiculous side effects causing more harm than the purpose for which they are prescribed – Seriously, do you listen to the subtext of side effects in every drug ad?) yet discovered that will improve my condition. The best therapies for cases like mine are alternative treatments, which you currently don’t pay for or only pay under such restrictions that their effectiveness is undermined.
I can no longer see my favorite doctor who stood by my side through five grueling long years of suffering before any AMA trained doctor ever took my symptoms seriously enough to search for an accurate diagnosis. That doctor was a naturopath who went way beyond the call of duty to make sure I was taken care of. Medicare does not cover NDs. A costly mistake for all in my opinion.
So far, Medicare does not give alternative practitioners the same benefits afforded to AMA trained doctors. Based upon my experience, when traditional doctors can’t find a proper diagnosis, they blame the patient. How does that decrease stress, which is top of the list of killers in America today? Aren’t the patients the real reason they are being doctors in the first place? Hmm, maybe not for all, but it sure is for my ND.
I had one doctor tell me the only reason I was passing out with activity was that I needed a breast reduction. She said if I just “pushed through” I’d be fine. It’s hard to “push through” when you’re curled up on the floor unable to breathe and fighting blackout. Another one blamed my childhood trauma and prescribed Ativan.
While I concur that childhood trauma played a factor, they offered no help other than “head meds.” The correct diagnosis was a rare form of a rare disease having to do with faulty mitochondria causing muscle weakness, shortness of breath and collapse with activity.
Five years is a long time to wait for support from the medical community when your life has fallen apart. I wanted/needed help. A forced medical retirement at the age of 54 because I could no longer work was devastating. My current neurologist finally found the diagnosis, for which I am grateful. But he is not interested in me as a person. He doesn’t have time to be.
I want to go back to my ND who opened her office to treat me on her days off, who took the time to reach out to other doctors across the country. She referred me to OHSU where I eventually was taken seriously enough to get an accurate diagnosis. She was there for me every step of the way until Medicare kicked in forcing me to stop seeing her.
Not only was I scoffed at and invalidated by traditional doctors when I tried to explain the severity of my symptoms, I was treated as a lazy person who just wanted to mooch off of the system. Eventually, I sought out, found and trained in one of the best stress-reducing, emotionally supportive, simple to use techniques I’ve found called EFT. http://www.eftuniverse.com/
I’ve heard stories like mine from countless others who suffered for years before finally getting the help they needed. I was scooter dependent before EFT. Now, I only need to use my cane when I’ve walked too much and am in danger of leg collapse. Do alternative therapies work? YES! Should they replace traditional approaches? NO! Should they be included as part of a comprehensive care plan? Abso–freakin–lutely!
I would appreciate the American medical system returning to a more balanced approach to healthcare. Insurance companies have inserted themselves between the patient/doctor relationship so it seems it is up to you to decide to support complementary alternative medicine equally.
I hold a vision that the doctors of the future will be able to do more than prescribing drugs with horrific side effects as the only treatment option. The best model I see now for an integrative healthcare system is Kaiser Permanente and some of the cancer treatment centers. I hope one day Medicare will follow that lead if Medicare still exists at all in the future.
The switch to supporting these kinds of treatments has to come from you, the insurance companies who pay for treatments. Disabled people like me can’t afford them on their own, and I am living proof that they work. So is my husband who nearly died from military-related PTSD for which drugs and traditional therapy did not help.
I contend that if we focused more on paying for alternative therapies equally alongside conventional ones, your coverage costs would decrease immensely. But I doubt it will happen in my lifetime because corporations can’t make money on a prescription for meditation.
It seems to me we’ve lost the basic rule of medicine, which is to do no harm. Profit rules everything these days. But I wasn’t born to be fodder for the greedy. I am a human being made of spirit and emotions as well as a physical body. My health is dramatically impacted by my relationship with all aspects of myself.
A truly good doctor needs to be able to address the whole me and offer practical help – not just scribble a drug name on a prescription pad and send me out the door. The current healthcare system seems more interested in keeping us sick and dependent upon prescription medication than to offer anything of long-lasting value to a thriving lifestyle. That is a crime in my opinion.
I’m not saying all prescription drugs are bad. I’m saying we need to include alternative options equally to really offer quality care. Vision with me for a moment: I walk into my doctor’s office for my scheduled appointment. It is not just my doctor’s office, but a complementary alternative medical complex housing everything I need for optimal body/mind/spirit health in one location.
While I wait, there are soothing nature scenes with relaxing, ad-free musical scores to soothe my nerves and relax my body. I would be able to see my stress coach, my massage therapist, my ND/MD all in one place and all covered under the same healthcare insurance. Classes for yoga, Tai Chi, nutrition and other health-supportive activities would also be available on-site.
I would leave my doctor’s office feeling invigorated and plugged back into the natural vitality of life instead of feeling more confused and depressed than I was when I arrived. Before my diagnosis, leaving confused and angry was the usual result of a doctor’s visit. I prefer a healthcare system which helps me to thrive in spite of my diagnosis! If this letter serves to be a voice for change, then that’s a good thing.
For more information on complementary alternative medicine, please follow this link: https://nccih.nih.gov/