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Monday, February 15, 2010

A different kind of healthcare reform needs to happen

Doctors should seriously consider moving in the direction of offering up alternative medicines, mostly to keep people like me from doing permanent damage to themselves out of ignorance and sheer obstinance.

Before I start in on my story, I should mention a couple of things. I'm a complex person. I like to think of myself as a relatively healthy person. I try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Ever since I watched Food Inc. I've started buying hormone-free meat. I make an effort to buy organic when the prices aren't more than the price of gold. I take vitamins every day. But as I sit here I've got a 20 ounce bottle of Mountain Dew sitting by the keyboard that I bought mostly because it is being sold for a limited time only, Mountain Dew throwback, Made with Real Sugar. I've also been known to polish off a bag of tortilla chips and salsa along with half a bag of Oreos and call it dinner, although that happens much more rarely since I've become a nursing mother.

Now that I've come out of the closet as a junk food junkie extraordinaire, let me tell you why I am just a little bit concerned that I might be headed on the path toward deafness and yet, I still haven't gone to see a doctor.

I don't have health insurance at the moment, but that really and truly is not the reason I haven't gone to the doctor for an ear infection that developed in my left ear over the weekend.

If I was on my deathbed, I'd shell out of my pocket to get some good drugs and whatnots to make me whole again. (Yes Larissa, the whatnots is just for you.)

But since I've become a mom, I've noticed a trend amongst mothers that makes a ton of sense to me. We are not rushing to the doctor every time our kids get sick because nine times out of 10 they will either over medicate or tell us to wait it out.

Most moms I know are a lot smarter and way more in touch with alternative medicines and home remedies than I am. Oh sure, I put on a good game face. I know lots of good words to throw out when people start talking about things they do to ward off infection. But the truth is I'm just shitting in the wind most of the time when it comes to this stuff and yet, I'm sick and tired of doctors! They shine some fancy looking equipment in your ears and mouth, listen to your back and then tell you that everything's fine and charge you 20 bucks.

Or, they hand you a fistful of papers with a lot of scribbling on it and god knows I wonder how the fuck the pharmacists can tell that I needed 2 four ounce doses of amoxicillin a day when all it looks like to me on the paper is tttt axlln, swoop, swirl and end it with a flourishing signature.

And let me tell you another reason why I am becoming less trusting in the whole medical establishment. I'm not even going to get started on medical interventions in labor because that would take this post in a whole nuther direction. (But that is one factor.)


That's right, those damn pharmacists will tell you something completely different than what your doctor told you. Once, when Annika was just under a year, she had a bit of a cold, which I would not have taken her to the doctor for, but Toyin was insistent. As usual, the doctor told me she was fine, but if it made us feel better I could give her some Benadryl.

So I went to the pharmacy and was about to buy it but the label said not for under two, so I asked the pharmacist and he told me that children under two could have seizures on the stuff. Turns out that was happening when people were overdosing their kids accidentally.

Today, I went over to People's Pharmacy to look into buying some garlic mullein ear drops which came highly recommended by a bunch of moms on an online listserv I am part of. When I asked if they carried them, the pharmacist who was assisting me asked me why I wanted them. I told her I was pretty sure I had an ear infection and they had come highly recommended.

"By who?" she inquired eyeing me with suspicion. Maybe she didn't trust me because I had a Bandaid over my ear. I mean, what am I, 3?

"Oh, some moms I know," I answered.

She squinted and scrunched her face up at me.

"Uh, really just some random people," I said uneasily. I mean for gods sake, the woman was wearing a white lab coat, I folded under the pressure! I started to feel like I was selling out. It was all happening so quickly!

"Well," she said. "Are you having any pain, fever or drainage?

"Yes," I mumbled, feeling like I was in the principal's office.

"Why do you have the Bandaid on your ear," she asked, looking me over pityingly and with a touch of scorn.

"Umm, you know, to keep out water, and umm, the wind," I added realizing that it was not raining outside. I wondered how she would look at me if she knew that I had a chunk of raw potato under the Bandaid.

"Would you be interested in taking a tablet?" she asked.

"Well, umm," I stared at the longed-for ear drops that I read wonderful reviews about on an unknown source's website. They must work, right? This guy had a great story about using them on a friend's daughter who turned out to have a bean in her ear.

"Let me take a look at them," I agreed. She convinced me to buy Congaplex tablets after I poured out the whole story of using ear candles, which made a bunch of wax come out and then started to drain and now I have an ear infection. After I told her the story she looked at me with more pity. I felt irritated. After all, I had bought the damn candles at this store.

I suppose the Congaplex tablets aren't so bad. I bought the drops as well since I am a rebel and I hate the establishment. But I think I'll wait a couple of days before using them to see if the tablets work.

My point is, if you can't already tell by this ridiculous story, is that doctors need to start considering other alternatives to antibiotics and decongestants with heavy side effects. I used to run to the doctor every time I got sick and I realized over the years that a lot of the medications I was taking were either overkill, or just gave me other problems that I had to deal with later.

Now, I turn first to Dr. Google.

Second, to my friends.

And third, doctors.

Shouldn't it really be the other way around?

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