Thursday, November 16, 2006

Charlatans

I am a big believer in alternative medicine. I think belief is important in all medicine. Pharmaceuticals are driven by science, but there wouldn't be medical trials with placebos if belief didn't influence outcome.

We experienced great results with my son when he was 2 and 1/2 when we sought help for chronic diarrhea. A homeopathic solution from our Naturopath brought substantial relief for $5--and that's after we saw many doctors and he had been tested for cystic fibrosis and celiac disease. I have great confidence in this doctor because she personally cares for my family and she's not afraid to refer me to a MD when it is necessary. She also encouraged me to take prednisone when it is prescribed. I trust her judgment, even after a few treatments we tried actually exasperate my neuropathy. It's a good partnership.

But I think there are limits to alternative care. And there are lots of people parading around as experts that want our hard earned cash in exchange for promises of better health or even a cure.

Last winter, I was sick but we still weren't 100% sure why. My neighbor was genuinely concerned and began telling me about a product her husband was selling. (FYI-I hadn't actually spoke to him in over 6 months. She had kicked him out for physical abuse, complete with restraining order and then invited him back home all with my mouth agape. Not relevant to the story here, but it does give the backstory for why I had a rocky relationship with him at best.) I watched a DVD produced by the company, but couldn't find any solid evidence to support its claims. She was sure this powder was the cure. And for only $160 a month. For sugar. (Found naturally in fruit and aloe vera, I imagine it is good for you. But I'd rather eat the fruit.) When I politely declined at the bus stop each day, her husband started sending me emails. He really had no idea what my symptoms were, he was adamant he could fix it.

Imagine my surprise when I was working one evening at Borders and the hubby strolled in and started pushing his wares on me. His basic premise was that he could cure me and that my pain and increasing disability were basically my own fault for refusing his treatment. I have worked in public for many years and I can be graceful under pressure, but this conversation confounded me. When I told him that I shared his concerns with allopathic philosophy, that doctors and pills have limitations too, he looked confused and started mumbling something about aloe vera. Right there I knew he didn't know what he was talking about. He was a salesman by trade, and in another scenario, I might have tried it because I was scared and hurting. And that my friend, makes me angry. It makes me angry that on top of doctor's appointments, and blood tests, and exhaustion and pain, that I had to ward off a company looking to exploit my desire to get better.

Eventually he stopped bugging me. They moved away after school ended and I don't hear from them anymore. But it made me realize that somewhere between my desperation to feel better and some one's desire to capitalize on it, I must be my own best advocate. It's no time to be a wuss.

1 comment:

lindoreen said...

I think it is too bad you didn't try it. I have Sjogren's too, I tried it, and it worked.