Over the past few years I’ve begun to really question what doctors have told me. After becoming more aware of all of the medical mistakes that are being made by health professionals, and all of the drugs that are being recalled because of newly discovered, dangerous side effects, I have decided to do my own research and make my own decisions regarding my health, and the health of my loved ones.
This isn’t a post bashing the medical community. Doctors, Nurses, and Pharmacists are in incredible asset to our world, and work many miracles every day. They are undoubtedly valuable heroes to millions of sick and dying people. I am not here to discredit them. I am simply here to open your eyes to the irrefutable truth that mistakes are made, and it is imperative that we take our health into our own hands and make wise decisions regarding the recommendations of health workers.
Several times over the past few years I’ve had to make some really hard decisions regarding my health, and the health of my family. I won’t hesitate to make an appointment with a doctor if I need to. However, the recommendations that the doctors give and the medicine that they prescribe are not taken haphazardly. Before I agree to anything, I do my best to research my options before I make a decision. Sometimes I do exactly what the doctor tells me to do, and sometimes I do something that I feel is a better option for us.
I want to share with you some instances when I have decided to go against medical suggestions, and was so glad that I did. And other times when I did comply, and wish I hadn’t.
The first time that I really ever questioned what a doctor had told me, I was very pregnant with my second child. At a routine exam, one of my obstetricians told me that I had some type of yeast infection. He prescribed a vaginal suppository. Now, I had no idea that I had any kind of infection before that visit. No signs or symptoms, nothing to complain about or even notice. I wondered as I went home, “Why should I take this medicine if I don’t even have a noticeable problem?“. After filling the prescription, I sat down to read the information packet included. As I read the instructions, and filled the first applicator, I came to the warning section. I was really surprised when I came to a sentence which read: “has not been tested on pregnant women.” What? Wait a minute… how is my doctor going to tell me that it is fine for me to take when it hasn’t even been tested on pregnant women? I did not take the first dose. I was really confused about what to do. I didn’t want to risk a complication due to an untreated infection, but I also didn’t want to risk a complication from a drug which has unknown side effects for unborn children. What was I to do?
I waited until the next week, when I went in for another visit with the doctor. I told him about my concern regarding the medication, and about the warning that I had read. He shrugged it off, and tried to reassure me that it’s perfectly safe. Internally, I questioned his judgment. How does he know it’s safe if it has never been tested? So I asked, “Well, if I don’t take this medicine, what could happen?” He said, “Well, you just might develop uncomfortable symptoms from the infection. Itching, burning, that kind of stuff.” There was no danger to my unborn child. I pretty much told him I’ll take my chances. I threw the medicine away, and never did develop any sort of irritation or symptoms of any kind. I wonder sometimes if I even really had an infection! I felt good making my own mind up about my body and my health. And I didn’t have to worry about possibly harming my unborn child. It was actually very empowering to say “no thanks”.
After that, I really started doing more research on my own when it came to making up my own mind about health care. A little while later, when my daughter was two, Jada had experienced two urinary tract infections within a year. She was potty training at the time, and in hindsight I’m sure that that had something to do with it. The doctor became concerned and recommended that I have her go for an exam at the hospital to see if she had Bladder Reflux (or Vesicoureteral Reflux), a condition which can be dangerous to the kidneys (from what they explained). They scheduled her for an ultrasound and a VCUG at the local children’s hospital. Oh, how I will never forgive myself for allowing this procedure to happen. But I was new to all of this. What’s a mom supposed to do? It was a catch 22. If I didn’t take her for the test, and she did have a severe problem, then it could be harmful to her. But if I did take her, and they found nothing wrong, I would have put her through all of that torment for nothing. After much consideration, I decided it was better to be safe than sorry.
The morning I took her to the hospital, my husband took off of work to be with me. I’m so glad he did. We waited for a long time in the waiting room, but finally they called us back. First they did the ultrasound on Jada. They had her lie down on a table as the nice nurse showed Jada all of the colors of her “insides” on the monitor. She gave her stickers, and even a little doll. Jada enjoyed herself, and captured the heart of the nurse. As I watched my precious little girl laying there, unaware of what was coming next, I kept having to leave her side and wipe my tears out of her sight. I fought back my crying the best that I could. I didn’t want to scare her. The nurse swept Jada away, and carried her to the next room where she was to get the VCUG.
When the nurses saw that I was pregnant, they told me that I had to leave the room. They would be using an x-ray, and it wouldn’t be safe for me. I stayed with her for as long as I could. They made her strip down naked, and then they strapped her onto a hard, narrow board, clamping her head in place, and strapping her arms down, and her legs spread apart. Oh my goodness! How could I allow them to violate her in such a way! This was three years ago, and I still have tears in my eyes as I recall the whole event. She was scared, and crying. She kept saying, “I’m all done. I don’t like this. Please… I’m all done!” My husband was able to stay with her, but I had to leave. I stood out in the hallway and cried, absolutely sobbing and praying. I could hear my little girl in there crying, hurting and scared, begging them to stop. My husband told me that they inserted a catheter to fill her bladder. Then this board that she was on began tilting from side to side, violently jerking every time it went back and forth. I could hear the nurses telling her, “Just pee-pee and you will be all done.” They kept telling her that over and over. She was just crying, begging for mercy. I cried and said quietly, but aloud, “Pee-pee, baby. Go pee-pee. Please, please just pee-pee, baby.” Finally, finally! I heard the nurses telling her, “Good girl. Good job. You’re all done now.” I rushed into the room and grabbed her into my arms. I held her close and did my best to comfort her. We went to McDonald’s afterwards for a hot fudge sundae, and I let her play on the playplace for a while. Later that night, I noticed that she had bloody scrapes on both sides of her head where that clamp had cut into her scalp. Still to this day she is terrified that the doctors will hurt her “pee-pee” again.
I will never, ever forget how my heart broke for my poor child. And I feel so guilty that I allowed it. Why did I allow it in the first place? Because the doctor told me that when children have this reflux condition, they need to take antibiotics for many more years to prevent further infections. Of course, the thought of so many antibiotics scared me to death, and I prayed and prayed that she would not have this problem. A few days later the doctor called me with the good news that she did not have VUR. It was bittersweet. I hated that she had gone through all of that for nothing, but of course was extremely relieved that she was fine.
And I was even more angered at the situation after reading an article in the Nov. 2007 issue of American Baby Magazine, which was talking about this bladder reflux condition. It mentioned the daily antibiotic treatment prescribed by doctors for children with VUR, and spoke of a study done by a Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia which examined 611 children who were undergoing these treatments. It stated that “90 percent of the kids who took the preventative antibiotics developed an antibiotic-resistant recurrent infection.” If only we had known. How very sad for those children and their parents. It makes me wonder what other treatments will prove to have devastating consequences. Thankfully, Jada has never had another UTI. If only I had waited…
My latest “bout” with medical professionals really fed my doubt for their complete competence. When baby Titus got pinkeye (Conjunctivitis), I tried using an herbal treatment at first, but I was having a hard time getting the drops into his tightly shut eyes so the symptoms only got worse. After the third day I took him to see the doctor. My regular pediatrician was unavailable, so I had to see somebody else. I didn’t like him. I’ll call him Dr. R. He was very quick to prescribe something, even though he was unsure whether the conjunctivitis was viral or bacterial. He told me, “Just to be sure, we’ll just give him this.” I did not like the idea of giving my baby prescription eye drops used to treat a bacterial infection, if it was merely a virus that would clear on its own. Nevertheless, I did as I was told and later that night I gave him his first drop of the medicine before bed.
It was about 4 hours later when I heard Titus crying in his crib. I went in to check on him, and when he sat up and looked at me I was horrified to see that his right eyelid was extremely puffy and red, to the point of being almost completely swollen shut. I picked him up in a panic, saying “Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! Look at your eye! What is wrong with your eye?!” I waved my hand in front of his face, and his one good eye moved, but the swollen eye could not. Was he going to be blind? I woke my sleeping husband to show him poor Titus’ eye.
I immediately got on the phone and called my Pediatrician’s office. The after-hours nurse answered. After I told her what had happened she told me that I should take him to the Emergency Room. She said it could be a secondary infection, and it might be worse in the morning if it didn’t get treated. I hung up with her, and cried. I prayed and cried. I knew that if I took the poor, sleepy little guy to the ER at 11:30pm, it wouldn’t be until early in the morning before we’d be back home where he could finally rest again. I agonized over the decision. Do I wait and let him rest, or do I take him because it might get worse? After a time, I decided I would let him sleep. He was exhausted. And I recalled Jada’s trauma, and didn’t want to torture him as well. I stayed awake all night long, sitting on the couch with the baby monitor by my side, listening for a whimper from him, crying and praying that it would get better by morning. I was terrified. He woke up again at 3am. and when I got him up I noticed that his eye was looking a little bit better. I thanked the Lord, held him in my arms until he fell back asleep, and then laid him down for more rest. By the morning his eye was considerably better, though still a little swollen. I called the doc’s office again as soon as they opened and told them what was going on. They decided it was an allergic reaction. Dr. R wasn’t in, so they consulted another doctor, who called in an alternate prescription. I went to the pharmacy, picked up the new prescription, and took it home as directed.
Before I gave Titus the medicine, I read the insert for any warnings. Now check this out, the first prescription eye drops that I had given Titus were called Ciprofloxacin. The second set of drops that I was prescribed were called Vigamox. When I read the warnings for the Vigamox I was dumbfounded to read, “if you have had an allergic reaction to Ciprofloxacin, do not use this product!” Wait… What?! Didn’t the doctors know this? Wasn’t this something they should have warned me about? I sat there extremely troubled by the lack of knowledge displayed by the pediatricians. I mean, we trust them to know what is best for our children, right? They should have known better!
After that I was done with the meds. They both went into the trash. I went back to my original method of home remedy treatments, and within a couple of days his eyes were clear. What did the doctor say? “Oh, well I guess it was just viral.” Guess is exactly right.
I know I’ve written a forever long post, so I won’t even go into the “bacterial infection” that Titus came down with the week after the pinkeye. I won’t even begin to describe all of the exams, blood tests, and shots of antibiotics that were given to him for four straight days while the doctor’s guessed what was wrong. It all ended up being a nasty virus, unaffected by any antibiotics. What a mess. I’m thoroughly let down.
*Oh, and I forgot to mention that the doctor didn’t even know about the warning that the FDA had issued regarding the antibiotic shot that they were giving Titus. I asked the docs about it, and they hadn’t even heard of the warning. Not very reassuring. Evidently they just don’t have time to bone up on all of the latest warnings and recalls the FDA issues regarding medications.
The point of all of this,
Don’t be afraid to question what a medical person is telling you. Doctors are human too, and they are subject to make mistakes just as anybody else is. Educate yourself and decide if what they are saying sounds right. Research your meds before you unquestioningly ingest them. Search for alternatives, and know the pros and cons. Don’t feel bad for taking your life, and the life of your loved ones, into your own hands. Because ultimately it’s you who has your family’s best interest in mind.
Do you have a story to share? Has there been a time when you wished that you had listened to what the doctors told you, or has there been a time when you really should have second guessed their opinion? I’d love to hear your experiences and comments.