A doctor’s reminder

First, she knew this was coming but there's some other things I want to wrap up.

First, she knew this was coming. She closed her store the week before she went into the hospital (and had been trying to sell it for months).

She told lots of people she was tired and thought something bad was going to happen. She even, after having the first proceedure completed successfully, thought she cheated death.

But, she had some wacky beliefs. It's why I wasn't very close with her. She was VERY into alternative medicine and didn't believe in doctors at all.

That belief might have cost her some time here. We'll never know for sure.

One reason I wanted to share this is if you aren't feeling well, go see a doctor, even if you don't have health insurance. It might save your life.

Dave Winer told me stories similar. We all get stubborn and don't want to hear bad news. So we put off that kind of stuff until absolutely necessary.

In my mom's case she had more than a liter of fluid around her heart that had been getting worse over a matter of months.

Not going into the doctor made that initial heart condition much worse than it would have been had it been caught early.

Coming back from Montana I sat next to a lady who was reading a best-selling book on alternative medicine. I almost talked to her about my mom but decided against it. My mom wouldn't listen to reason. I got the sense that this lady sitting next to me believed strongly in alternative medicine too and so wouldn't listen to reason either.

But, I read over her shoulder some of the book. The author (who I won't name here, cause he's already preyed on too many) takes a decided anti-corporate stance.

That anti-corporate attitude makes it easy to prey on people, particularly older people who are scared of the Walmarts and Microsoft's and other big companies.

I don't know how to solve that. More will die cause of the fear of the doctor. Of the corporations. Of the hospitals. Of misunderstanding scientific principles. Of not believing true experts. (Hey, I'm not one, so don't believe me, but don't believe everything you read in books or on the Internet either).

One of her doctors, on hearing this, said he always listens when people say that they think they are going to die soon. He says that actually comes true a lot of times, so he takes that very seriously and looks harder for problems.

Over the past two weeks I find myself wondering "what if?"

Seemed like something good to remind everyone else of too.

Oh, and whether or not you believe in alternative medicine, at least do what my mom did. Have a will drawn up. Make sure everyone knows where your bank accounts are and what you want to happen in case something bad happens in the hospital and the family needs to decide on your behalf whether you should be kept alive or not. One other thing I wish she had done? Made it easier to find all of her friends and family's phone numbers. That reminds me to do some cleaning on my contacts and printing them out.

Anyway, some things to think about.

Comments

  1. I think, no I am 90% sure I know who you are talking about. That guy comes off as a quack even on the TV interviews he does.

  2. I think, no I am 90% sure I know who you are talking about. That guy comes off as a quack even on the TV interviews he does.

  3. Before you write off alternative medicine, be aware that both kinds of medicine influence each other. And it’s not black and white either. You should talk with my mother, who is in her mid-70s and has the same heart genes that I have and my uncle had (her brother) but she’s never been sick a day in her life. She treats herself with preventive medicines, stuff a lot of the doctors don’t believe in, but she’s living proof that there’s something important going on there.

    I agree with many of the things you say here, but not that the corporate health care system has the answers. They have some answers, and are able to work miracles. But the alternative approaches have merit too.

  4. Before you write off alternative medicine, be aware that both kinds of medicine influence each other. And it’s not black and white either. You should talk with my mother, who is in her mid-70s and has the same heart genes that I have and my uncle had (her brother) but she’s never been sick a day in her life. She treats herself with preventive medicines, stuff a lot of the doctors don’t believe in, but she’s living proof that there’s something important going on there.

    I agree with many of the things you say here, but not that the corporate health care system has the answers. They have some answers, and are able to work miracles. But the alternative approaches have merit too.

  5. Robert, thanks for continuing to share your journey, and in this difficult time sharing some wise advise. I learned long ago that the “alternative” medicine forms are often viable options, but they are best looked at as a way to complement western medical traditions so that we get the best of both. My GP is a certified acupuncturist, for example.

    Thank you for willingness to model honesty.

  6. Robert, thanks for continuing to share your journey, and in this difficult time sharing some wise advise. I learned long ago that the “alternative” medicine forms are often viable options, but they are best looked at as a way to complement western medical traditions so that we get the best of both. My GP is a certified acupuncturist, for example.

    Thank you for willingness to model honesty.

  7. People would like to go see doctors, but in more cases then not they are going to see salesman who prescribe medicine with the end result of getting people hooked on the medicine and the pockets of the drug companies fattter and fatter.

    It’s not as cut and dry as you are saying. Ask around and see how many people personally know people whose lives have been completely destroyed by the medical system. That’s why people don’t trust the medical system, first / second hand knowledge of it’s life-crippling potential.

  8. People would like to go see doctors, but in more cases then not they are going to see salesman who prescribe medicine with the end result of getting people hooked on the medicine and the pockets of the drug companies fattter and fatter.

    It’s not as cut and dry as you are saying. Ask around and see how many people personally know people whose lives have been completely destroyed by the medical system. That’s why people don’t trust the medical system, first / second hand knowledge of it’s life-crippling potential.

  9. I agree with Robert about this. There is no proof that most alternative ‘medicine’ treatments work. Quite the opposite. Those which have been examined scientifically, including popular treatments such as green tea as a preventative and laetrile as a cure for cancer, have been proven to have no effect or, regarding laetrile, to be harmful. (It can cause mercury poisoning.) Those of us who live in the West are fortunate to have the best medical care in the world available to us if we can afford it. We should take advantage of that good fortune

    Dave, your mother may not have the same heart related genes you do. Even siblings (who have a closer genetic heritage than parent and child) can be quite different genetically. It is likely that the alternative medicine she is practicing is having no effect at all.

  10. I agree with Robert about this. There is no proof that most alternative ‘medicine’ treatments work. Quite the opposite. Those which have been examined scientifically, including popular treatments such as green tea as a preventative and laetrile as a cure for cancer, have been proven to have no effect or, regarding laetrile, to be harmful. (It can cause mercury poisoning.) Those of us who live in the West are fortunate to have the best medical care in the world available to us if we can afford it. We should take advantage of that good fortune

    Dave, your mother may not have the same heart related genes you do. Even siblings (who have a closer genetic heritage than parent and child) can be quite different genetically. It is likely that the alternative medicine she is practicing is having no effect at all.

  11. Or had she seen a doctor sooner she may well have died before her time.

    If you look at the physicians’ desk reference and go through each medicine in there you will note that each of these has side effects, every single one with many of them containing the potential to kill us.
    The point being it may well have been her beliefs in alternative medicine that kept her going for as long as she did.

    You cannot know one way or another.

    As for traditional medicine don’t believe everything those doctors tell you. Most don’t even know that morphine only works in a third of people. Another third are influenced by a placebo effect and another third it has no effect at all. There have been many well designed scientific studies on this. The reason I came across it I was doing research into pain for my masters thesis years ago.

    Podesta obviously you haven’t don’t a whole lot of research into the subject. On the contrary there is overwhleming scientific evidence that a number of alternative therapies do work. Not all, but some. The antioxident effects have been well demonstrated scientifically for a number of years now with many studies being avialable on this topic. I could easily pull out a number of articles for the medical databases on this. You will find a few studies contradicting it too, but guess who by and large funds those studies? The established drug companies…

    In the field of alternative medicine there have been numerous scientific studies that cannot be faulted on design or methodology that unequivocally demonstrate the beneficial effects of some alternative therapies. For example, there are a number of studies that demonstrate the efficacy of hypnosis in pain management over traditional medicines with no side effects. There are also lots of studies on aspects of Chinese medicine that demonstrate their healing potential. Homeopathy is another one that has been rigorously tested scientifically and demonstrated much to the bemusement of those stuck in antiquated Cartesian principles to work. And what does the traditional “scientific” community do with these studies. Refuse to publish them in the major journals, even though the peer review committee themselves replicated the results. How do we know these studies exist? Because they have been published in lesser known journals. One only has to dig around to find them.

    Apart from that the most consistent scientific finding is that it is what people believe that by and large affects their illness and mortality rate. If a person’s believes they will get well irrespective of treatment their chances of getting well are considerably improved. The mind body connection has been known for a long time by the scientific community.

    That is not to say that people should embrace all alternative medicines. For example there are areas in the alternative field that have no value other than as a placebo effect. Aromatherapy comes to mind readily where recent studies demonstrate that it has no effect on people in terms of getting better. It acts as a placebo effect.

    It is to say however that people should research the areas before dismissing them completely. Some of the stuff in the alternative fields works amazing well, others have no effect. So part of what one needs to do is discern what works and what doesn’t before making cover all statements.

  12. Or had she seen a doctor sooner she may well have died before her time.

    If you look at the physicians’ desk reference and go through each medicine in there you will note that each of these has side effects, every single one with many of them containing the potential to kill us.
    The point being it may well have been her beliefs in alternative medicine that kept her going for as long as she did.

    You cannot know one way or another.

    As for traditional medicine don’t believe everything those doctors tell you. Most don’t even know that morphine only works in a third of people. Another third are influenced by a placebo effect and another third it has no effect at all. There have been many well designed scientific studies on this. The reason I came across it I was doing research into pain for my masters thesis years ago.

    Podesta obviously you haven’t don’t a whole lot of research into the subject. On the contrary there is overwhleming scientific evidence that a number of alternative therapies do work. Not all, but some. The antioxident effects have been well demonstrated scientifically for a number of years now with many studies being avialable on this topic. I could easily pull out a number of articles for the medical databases on this. You will find a few studies contradicting it too, but guess who by and large funds those studies? The established drug companies…

    In the field of alternative medicine there have been numerous scientific studies that cannot be faulted on design or methodology that unequivocally demonstrate the beneficial effects of some alternative therapies. For example, there are a number of studies that demonstrate the efficacy of hypnosis in pain management over traditional medicines with no side effects. There are also lots of studies on aspects of Chinese medicine that demonstrate their healing potential. Homeopathy is another one that has been rigorously tested scientifically and demonstrated much to the bemusement of those stuck in antiquated Cartesian principles to work. And what does the traditional “scientific” community do with these studies. Refuse to publish them in the major journals, even though the peer review committee themselves replicated the results. How do we know these studies exist? Because they have been published in lesser known journals. One only has to dig around to find them.

    Apart from that the most consistent scientific finding is that it is what people believe that by and large affects their illness and mortality rate. If a person’s believes they will get well irrespective of treatment their chances of getting well are considerably improved. The mind body connection has been known for a long time by the scientific community.

    That is not to say that people should embrace all alternative medicines. For example there are areas in the alternative field that have no value other than as a placebo effect. Aromatherapy comes to mind readily where recent studies demonstrate that it has no effect on people in terms of getting better. It acts as a placebo effect.

    It is to say however that people should research the areas before dismissing them completely. Some of the stuff in the alternative fields works amazing well, others have no effect. So part of what one needs to do is discern what works and what doesn’t before making cover all statements.

  13. I am so sorry about your mom… I wish there was more that I could do to ease your pain, but I know that no words will console…

    Brian M

  14. another reason why some people dislike doctors is because they tend to be very cold when it comes to treating patients.

  15. I am so sorry about your mom… I wish there was more that I could do to ease your pain, but I know that no words will console…

    Brian M

  16. another reason why some people dislike doctors is because they tend to be very cold when it comes to treating patients.

  17. I need to update my will. It specifies various things I had to cash in/sell off when I left MS, and I haven’t confirmed with Ael’s godparents that they can still take the girls in now that we both have two kids.

  18. I need to update my will. It specifies various things I had to cash in/sell off when I left MS, and I haven’t confirmed with Ael’s godparents that they can still take the girls in now that we both have two kids.

  19. I agree with commenter no. 3, Dave Winer. I will not write off alternative medicines as I know when they work, they work well compared to traditional methods of medicines.

  20. I agree with commenter no. 3, Dave Winer. I will not write off alternative medicines as I know when they work, they work well compared to traditional methods of medicines.

  21. Robert, I’m sorry to learn about your mom. My dad is dying right now of cancer, and I’ve posted a little about his belief in alternative medicine at coolbits. I personally believe that if some of the alternatives work, then reproducible scientific studies will prove it. But in a lot of cases, it is a bunch of baloney.

  22. Robert, I’m sorry to learn about your mom. My dad is dying right now of cancer, and I’ve posted a little about his belief in alternative medicine at coolbits. I personally believe that if some of the alternatives work, then reproducible scientific studies will prove it. But in a lot of cases, it is a bunch of baloney.

  23. Robert:

    Sad news – we follwed your trip out to Montana a few weeks ago with trepedation. And, now the news comes.

    My Mom’s bout with breast cancer began when she hemmoraged in the bathroom; she hadn’t been to see a doctor in maybe 20 years. Since her trusted Dr. Reuben passed away. Her cancer ate at her for a lot of years before she passed away – but I know that if she had seen a doctor earlier she would have had a lot less pain and suffering, at least.

    Take care – it takes a long time to get over the death of a parent.

  24. Robert:

    Sad news – we follwed your trip out to Montana a few weeks ago with trepedation. And, now the news comes.

    My Mom’s bout with breast cancer began when she hemmoraged in the bathroom; she hadn’t been to see a doctor in maybe 20 years. Since her trusted Dr. Reuben passed away. Her cancer ate at her for a lot of years before she passed away – but I know that if she had seen a doctor earlier she would have had a lot less pain and suffering, at least.

    Take care – it takes a long time to get over the death of a parent.

  25. I think some alternative approaches have validity. I swear that I couldn’t get from my regular doctor, who I think is fantastic, what I get from my acupuncturist. I have equal respect for both.

    Something’s working for the Pistons along these lines, too:


    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/25/sports/
    basketball/25pistons.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    The players credit their quick recoveries to Arnie Kander, the Pistons’ longtime strength coach. Kander is renowned throughout the N.B.A. for his unconventional methods and his blending of Eastern and Western medicines.

    Kander blends his own nutritional drinks, all individually tailored, for each of the Pistons every day. He eschews anti-inflammatories, which other teams dispense by the dozen, in favor of herbal mixtures that naturally drain swelling. And he creates personalized workout regimens designed to correct and maintain the mechanics of each player’s body. (Kander immediately knocked on the basketball court when asked about the Pistons’ uncanny health.)

    “He’s a genius when it comes to this stuff,” said Hunter, a veteran of four teams.

  26. I think some alternative approaches have validity. I swear that I couldn’t get from my regular doctor, who I think is fantastic, what I get from my acupuncturist. I have equal respect for both.

    Something’s working for the Pistons along these lines, too:


    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/25/sports/
    basketball/25pistons.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    The players credit their quick recoveries to Arnie Kander, the Pistons’ longtime strength coach. Kander is renowned throughout the N.B.A. for his unconventional methods and his blending of Eastern and Western medicines.

    Kander blends his own nutritional drinks, all individually tailored, for each of the Pistons every day. He eschews anti-inflammatories, which other teams dispense by the dozen, in favor of herbal mixtures that naturally drain swelling. And he creates personalized workout regimens designed to correct and maintain the mechanics of each player’s body. (Kander immediately knocked on the basketball court when asked about the Pistons’ uncanny health.)

    “He’s a genius when it comes to this stuff,” said Hunter, a veteran of four teams.

  27. as another poster said, some doctors don’t know either. My mother succumbed to congestive heart failure. The first doctor that treated her when she was first diagnosed was a complete quack. Makes me wonder if she would have survived longer had she been treated by someone other than a quack. As Jerry Seinfeld says, not every one in med school can get an “A”. Where are all these doctors that are getting “B’s” and “C’s” practicing?

    @6. We have the best medical care even if we can’t afford it. You and I just end up paying for those that can’t.

  28. as another poster said, some doctors don’t know either. My mother succumbed to congestive heart failure. The first doctor that treated her when she was first diagnosed was a complete quack. Makes me wonder if she would have survived longer had she been treated by someone other than a quack. As Jerry Seinfeld says, not every one in med school can get an “A”. Where are all these doctors that are getting “B’s” and “C’s” practicing?

    @6. We have the best medical care even if we can’t afford it. You and I just end up paying for those that can’t.

  29. I once heard that FEAR of cancer is more deadly than cancer itself. But chalk it up to human nature — it’s so comforting to deny even a possibility of the “c” word, rather than finding out for sure.

  30. I once heard that FEAR of cancer is more deadly than cancer itself. But chalk it up to human nature — it’s so comforting to deny even a possibility of the “c” word, rather than finding out for sure.

  31. Robert, My heartfelt condolences go out to you and your fsmily, I went through losing mine slightly over a year ago. For different reasons I was not as close to her as I should have been either. But it is still tough to bear even after a year (probably more so because I felt I didn’t do enough to understand who she was). No matter what they were Mom, you can never get past that. Sounds like she was a good woman, keep that in mind.
    Don’t forget to give Patrick an extra hug ot two, even if he wasn’t close to her he is sharing your pain (at his age he probably won’t let it show it much, but it’s there).
    Excellent advice about taking care of affairs before it is to late. The biggest corporation of all (both Fed and State) get much to involved if you don’t.
    As to all of you “alt med” folks, please keep in mind all of the quackery and huckstering (read MLM) that has been around for so long. Too many cases of no real science that have truly hurt people is not a good thing.
    Take care of business, folks. Try everything that has real PROOF (not mangled stats) behind it.
    Time to talk to Mom (it works!) and go to bed. Thanks for sharing in this tough time Robert!

  32. Robert, My heartfelt condolences go out to you and your fsmily, I went through losing mine slightly over a year ago. For different reasons I was not as close to her as I should have been either. But it is still tough to bear even after a year (probably more so because I felt I didn’t do enough to understand who she was). No matter what they were Mom, you can never get past that. Sounds like she was a good woman, keep that in mind.
    Don’t forget to give Patrick an extra hug ot two, even if he wasn’t close to her he is sharing your pain (at his age he probably won’t let it show it much, but it’s there).
    Excellent advice about taking care of affairs before it is to late. The biggest corporation of all (both Fed and State) get much to involved if you don’t.
    As to all of you “alt med” folks, please keep in mind all of the quackery and huckstering (read MLM) that has been around for so long. Too many cases of no real science that have truly hurt people is not a good thing.
    Take care of business, folks. Try everything that has real PROOF (not mangled stats) behind it.
    Time to talk to Mom (it works!) and go to bed. Thanks for sharing in this tough time Robert!

  33. Unlike so many posters I’m not going to defend alternative medicine but I will point out that it’s very easy to say that people with no health insurance should see a doctor but there are reasons that people don’t do it. There is no law forcing doctors to see people who are uninsured and I doubt any doctors outside of those in free clinics do so. Secondly there is a justifiable fear of the destruction of your credit rating if the bills are turned over to collection agencies as they most certainly will be if you don’t have the money to pay. And a credit rating is no longer simply the key to the ability to get credit cards, a car or a mortgage. Almost every employer runs a credit check as do any potential landlords. Once it’s destroyed it takes many years to rebuild. The uninsured have very limited options.

  34. Unlike so many posters I’m not going to defend alternative medicine but I will point out that it’s very easy to say that people with no health insurance should see a doctor but there are reasons that people don’t do it. There is no law forcing doctors to see people who are uninsured and I doubt any doctors outside of those in free clinics do so. Secondly there is a justifiable fear of the destruction of your credit rating if the bills are turned over to collection agencies as they most certainly will be if you don’t have the money to pay. And a credit rating is no longer simply the key to the ability to get credit cards, a car or a mortgage. Almost every employer runs a credit check as do any potential landlords. Once it’s destroyed it takes many years to rebuild. The uninsured have very limited options.

  35. Condolences to you.

    I know who you refer to ( the author of the book) he’s been charged with fraud in the past, big article in LA times a while ago.

    Alternative medicine can be a very good prophylactic.
    But when you have definite symptoms, go see an MD.

  36. Condolences to you.

    I know who you refer to ( the author of the book) he’s been charged with fraud in the past, big article in LA times a while ago.

    Alternative medicine can be a very good prophylactic.
    But when you have definite symptoms, go see an MD.

  37. Sorry to hear about you mum, best wishes to you and your family.

    I agree with what you say about making a contacts list of people you know. I now have friends on msn messenger and xbox live that I would like to know if something happened to me but my girlfriend would have no idea of how to contact.

    perhaps an idea for a new web 2.0 site!

  38. Sorry to hear about you mum, best wishes to you and your family.

    I agree with what you say about making a contacts list of people you know. I now have friends on msn messenger and xbox live that I would like to know if something happened to me but my girlfriend would have no idea of how to contact.

    perhaps an idea for a new web 2.0 site!

  39. @19. Sadly “free healthcare” is not the answer, either. As PJ O’Rourke said: “If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until you see how much it costs when it’s free”

  40. @19. Sadly “free healthcare” is not the answer, either. As PJ O’Rourke said: “If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until you see how much it costs when it’s free”

  41. Alternative medicine is fine as an ALTERNATIVE. It should be used, in my opinion, ONLY when regular medicine fails to produce results or perhaps in some cases in place of risky surgeries or treatments.

    Yes, alternative cures can produce results, but you owe it to yourself and loved ones to seek quality care from regular doctors and experts first.

  42. Alternative medicine is fine as an ALTERNATIVE. It should be used, in my opinion, ONLY when regular medicine fails to produce results or perhaps in some cases in place of risky surgeries or treatments.

    Yes, alternative cures can produce results, but you owe it to yourself and loved ones to seek quality care from regular doctors and experts first.

  43. I think that you probably summed it up pretty well in a single sentence:

    “so he takes that very seriously and looks harder for problems”

    This is one of the reasons that people don’t trust doctors, you often need to be able to stumble upon the right keyword for a doctor to link up your symptoms with a possible problem.

    It’s very hard for people to describe some symptoms that they may have; one person’s dizzy might be another person’s tired, for example… and unless doctors supplement the PDR with some sort of thesaurus, the situation will not get any better.

    Alternative medicine practitioners generally tend to have a more friendly, informative nature, which is another reason that people would prefer to visit them rather than a doctor. There is a reason that the word clinical is used as it is in the English language….

    There are other things (at least in the UK) that factor in the decision of whether to go to a doctor or an alternative medicine practitioner:

    Time – At a lot of medical practices in the UK, getting an appointment with a doctor is very hard – at my doctors, for example, I can expect to actually see the doctor an average of 2 weeks after my initial request for an appointment. Is this situation acceptable?

    Location – In the UK, you are only allowed to register at a medical practice if you live within the ‘catchment area’ for that practice. This means that if you work any more than about 10 miles from where you live, it is necessary to take time off of work in order to visit the doctor. In an age where people are generally commuting further to reach their place of work, is this situation still acceptable?

    However, no matter where I am in the country, I am probably pretty close to a place where I can purchase some form of alternative medicine – regardless of whether I live within 5 miles of the place, and during my lunch break.

    In case you haven’t noticed, doctors rank highly on my ‘Pet hate’ list, in fact, second only to Banks and other financial institutions. ;o)

    C

  44. I think that you probably summed it up pretty well in a single sentence:

    “so he takes that very seriously and looks harder for problems”

    This is one of the reasons that people don’t trust doctors, you often need to be able to stumble upon the right keyword for a doctor to link up your symptoms with a possible problem.

    It’s very hard for people to describe some symptoms that they may have; one person’s dizzy might be another person’s tired, for example… and unless doctors supplement the PDR with some sort of thesaurus, the situation will not get any better.

    Alternative medicine practitioners generally tend to have a more friendly, informative nature, which is another reason that people would prefer to visit them rather than a doctor. There is a reason that the word clinical is used as it is in the English language….

    There are other things (at least in the UK) that factor in the decision of whether to go to a doctor or an alternative medicine practitioner:

    Time – At a lot of medical practices in the UK, getting an appointment with a doctor is very hard – at my doctors, for example, I can expect to actually see the doctor an average of 2 weeks after my initial request for an appointment. Is this situation acceptable?

    Location – In the UK, you are only allowed to register at a medical practice if you live within the ‘catchment area’ for that practice. This means that if you work any more than about 10 miles from where you live, it is necessary to take time off of work in order to visit the doctor. In an age where people are generally commuting further to reach their place of work, is this situation still acceptable?

    However, no matter where I am in the country, I am probably pretty close to a place where I can purchase some form of alternative medicine – regardless of whether I live within 5 miles of the place, and during my lunch break.

    In case you haven’t noticed, doctors rank highly on my ‘Pet hate’ list, in fact, second only to Banks and other financial institutions. ;o)

    C

  45. My friends is a doctor. He probably saves 3 people a day from death, doing now what is considered routine angioplasty. Funny how if one is an “Alternative” health person or cheerleader saving one or two people, I think by coincidence, writing a book and trumpeting your success will gain you followers.

    Fact is, science-based healing has saved enumerably more lives than alternative therapies; many people point to Asian medicine with it’s herbs and disgusting concoctions hailing it as great medicine. Why do so many Asians suffer with TB, Hepatitis? IT JUST DOESN’T WORK!

    Just my 2 cents.

  46. My friends is a doctor. He probably saves 3 people a day from death, doing now what is considered routine angioplasty. Funny how if one is an “Alternative” health person or cheerleader saving one or two people, I think by coincidence, writing a book and trumpeting your success will gain you followers.

    Fact is, science-based healing has saved enumerably more lives than alternative therapies; many people point to Asian medicine with it’s herbs and disgusting concoctions hailing it as great medicine. Why do so many Asians suffer with TB, Hepatitis? IT JUST DOESN’T WORK!

    Just my 2 cents.

  47. I am truly sorry to hear about your mom.

    With regards to the alternate medicine and/or avoidance of large corporations – I think that you may be looking at this differently than I. People have these feelings not because of their head, but their heart. When people avoid going to the doctor, they are not doing analysis in their head about their feelings of the largess of the medical industry. They are just scared, and most likely avoiding what they know may be true. If there were no medical industry, and they just had to call Doc Baker, like on Little House on the Prairie, they would still avoid the call until they couldn’t put it off any longer. You alluded to this in your orignal entry.
    Thanks for sharing all of this.

  48. I am truly sorry to hear about your mom.

    With regards to the alternate medicine and/or avoidance of large corporations – I think that you may be looking at this differently than I. People have these feelings not because of their head, but their heart. When people avoid going to the doctor, they are not doing analysis in their head about their feelings of the largess of the medical industry. They are just scared, and most likely avoiding what they know may be true. If there were no medical industry, and they just had to call Doc Baker, like on Little House on the Prairie, they would still avoid the call until they couldn’t put it off any longer. You alluded to this in your orignal entry.
    Thanks for sharing all of this.

  49. Robert,

    Condolences on your loss. My mother in law died a few years ago, and my mother was very sick over the winter, so I know a bit about what you’re going through.

    To comment on the alternative medicine movement…

    Human beings have a built-in propensity to see connections that aren’t there, and to generally consider personal testimony to be trustworthy.

    In other words, we are very good at fooling ourselves.

    The answer to this problem is science, which is, at it’s root, merely a method to make this less likely. Read Feynman’s classic “Cargo Cult Science” for more on this (http://www.physics.brocku.ca/etc/cargo_cult_science.html)

    Medicine, however, presents a problem. We are, for the most part, forced to evaluate the efficacy of different treatments through statistical studies, which have a host of associated issues. Even studies in peer-reviewed journals vary widely in their quality, and our media is fond of presenting study results with a simplicity and certainty not justified by the study results. A later study may contradict an earlier study, but the later study may be more definitive or less definitive.

    That makes it look like traditional medicine can’t make its mind up. And in some sense, that’s true – a constant evaluation of different hypotheses is a feature common to all scientific investigation. Over time, we learn more, find out what we were doing wrong, and come up with better treatments.

    Alternative medicine, on the other hand, doesn’t have this uncertainty. Homeopathy hasn’t changed since the late 1700s. Chiropractic is still what Daniel Palmer came up with in the early 1900s. That certainty has a lot of appeal to people.

    Despite the fact that for the most part, the theorectical underpinnings are shaky, and the studies are poor. If the studies were good, they would make it in peer-reviewed journals, and the techniques/medications would become conventional medicine.

    Conventional medicine, like all science, is skeptical. You need good evidence. But good evidence is enough.

    For years, everybody knew that ulcers were caused by too much stress, and there weren’t very good treatments for them. Then in the early 1980s, two Australian researchers came up with a different hypothesis – that ulcers were caused by a bacteria known as H. Pylori.

    After some initial skepticism, their results were replicated, and today you would be hard pressed to find a doctor who believed the old dogma. (http://3quarksdaily.blogs.com/3quarksdaily/2006/03/the_ulcer_giver.html)

    Medicine is happy to accept new treatments. They just have to work.

    For more info on alternative medicine:

    Quackwatch (http://www.quackwatch.org)
    Respectful Insolence (http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/)
    James Randi Foundation (http://www.randi.org)

    For more info:
    Orac
    quackwatch

  50. Robert,

    Condolences on your loss. My mother in law died a few years ago, and my mother was very sick over the winter, so I know a bit about what you’re going through.

    To comment on the alternative medicine movement…

    Human beings have a built-in propensity to see connections that aren’t there, and to generally consider personal testimony to be trustworthy.

    In other words, we are very good at fooling ourselves.

    The answer to this problem is science, which is, at it’s root, merely a method to make this less likely. Read Feynman’s classic “Cargo Cult Science” for more on this (http://www.physics.brocku.ca/etc/cargo_cult_science.html)

    Medicine, however, presents a problem. We are, for the most part, forced to evaluate the efficacy of different treatments through statistical studies, which have a host of associated issues. Even studies in peer-reviewed journals vary widely in their quality, and our media is fond of presenting study results with a simplicity and certainty not justified by the study results. A later study may contradict an earlier study, but the later study may be more definitive or less definitive.

    That makes it look like traditional medicine can’t make its mind up. And in some sense, that’s true – a constant evaluation of different hypotheses is a feature common to all scientific investigation. Over time, we learn more, find out what we were doing wrong, and come up with better treatments.

    Alternative medicine, on the other hand, doesn’t have this uncertainty. Homeopathy hasn’t changed since the late 1700s. Chiropractic is still what Daniel Palmer came up with in the early 1900s. That certainty has a lot of appeal to people.

    Despite the fact that for the most part, the theorectical underpinnings are shaky, and the studies are poor. If the studies were good, they would make it in peer-reviewed journals, and the techniques/medications would become conventional medicine.

    Conventional medicine, like all science, is skeptical. You need good evidence. But good evidence is enough.

    For years, everybody knew that ulcers were caused by too much stress, and there weren’t very good treatments for them. Then in the early 1980s, two Australian researchers came up with a different hypothesis – that ulcers were caused by a bacteria known as H. Pylori.

    After some initial skepticism, their results were replicated, and today you would be hard pressed to find a doctor who believed the old dogma. (http://3quarksdaily.blogs.com/3quarksdaily/2006/03/the_ulcer_giver.html)

    Medicine is happy to accept new treatments. They just have to work.

    For more info on alternative medicine:

    Quackwatch (http://www.quackwatch.org)
    Respectful Insolence (http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/)
    James Randi Foundation (http://www.randi.org)

    For more info:
    Orac
    quackwatch

  51. First, as a person who lost a grandfather in a similar way (he didn’t trust doctors, and the chiropractor kept telling him his headaches were due to bad posture) I really sympathize with your loss (And my father passed away a few months ago, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s, so I really feel your pain!).

    As to alternative medicine, I’m beginning to believe that while there may be some benefit, the fact of the matter is that a lot of our problems are due to just poor eating and exercise habits. I found that just eating a lot heathier and walking every day has eliminated most of the health problems that I was having a few years ago. I see a doctor regularly just to make sure, but it’s better to visit a doctor and have them say “it looks good” than to have to go to emergency fighting for your life.

    All medicine can only help you so far (alternative and otherwise). You have to take responsibility for the life choices that got you there, and accept your genetic predispositions (even those that you may not even know about). Sounds like the health version of the Serenity prayer, but that’s reality.

  52. First, as a person who lost a grandfather in a similar way (he didn’t trust doctors, and the chiropractor kept telling him his headaches were due to bad posture) I really sympathize with your loss (And my father passed away a few months ago, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s, so I really feel your pain!).

    As to alternative medicine, I’m beginning to believe that while there may be some benefit, the fact of the matter is that a lot of our problems are due to just poor eating and exercise habits. I found that just eating a lot heathier and walking every day has eliminated most of the health problems that I was having a few years ago. I see a doctor regularly just to make sure, but it’s better to visit a doctor and have them say “it looks good” than to have to go to emergency fighting for your life.

    All medicine can only help you so far (alternative and otherwise). You have to take responsibility for the life choices that got you there, and accept your genetic predispositions (even those that you may not even know about). Sounds like the health version of the Serenity prayer, but that’s reality.

  53. My dad’s life was extended by atleast 10 years because he finally submitted to a doctors visit. A tripple by-pass later and he he is still here to visit with my kids.

    I certainly don’t write off the idea of healthy living and being natural, but no amount of herbs or excercise would have reversed the health conditions that he was facing.

  54. My dad’s life was extended by atleast 10 years because he finally submitted to a doctors visit. A tripple by-pass later and he he is still here to visit with my kids.

    I certainly don’t write off the idea of healthy living and being natural, but no amount of herbs or excercise would have reversed the health conditions that he was facing.

  55. Thank you for your frank discussion of your feelings on alternative medicine. I count myself fortuate enough to make my living as a physician and have seen countless examples of suffering and death from treatable diseases resulting from reliance on alternative medicine.

    The simple fact of the matter is I, and I think I can say any of my collegues, will gladly embrace anything that works to heal and alleviate suffering. (Many of our current therapies have roots in alternative traditions, Many more alternative traditions will become mainstream as the data surrounding them develop.)

    The unfortunate fact is it is difficult to distinguish between “it works” and “it appears to work.” Even scientific studies can have very subtle flaws that completely invalidate their results. Other studies may appear valid but then fail when other centers attempt to repeat them. The process of separating fact from fiction is incredibly difficult, and unfortunatly, extremely inaccessible to those who have not dedicated their lives to this pursuit.

    Let me repeat your plea. Just come see us. Contrary to prior posts over a third of my patient never pay me, and that’s OK. If you have questions about a alternative therapy — bring it in and see what I have to offer as well. At least come in, see me and see what I have to offer. I’d hate to see anyone else suffer what I can fix.

  56. Thank you for your frank discussion of your feelings on alternative medicine. I count myself fortuate enough to make my living as a physician and have seen countless examples of suffering and death from treatable diseases resulting from reliance on alternative medicine.

    The simple fact of the matter is I, and I think I can say any of my collegues, will gladly embrace anything that works to heal and alleviate suffering. (Many of our current therapies have roots in alternative traditions, Many more alternative traditions will become mainstream as the data surrounding them develop.)

    The unfortunate fact is it is difficult to distinguish between “it works” and “it appears to work.” Even scientific studies can have very subtle flaws that completely invalidate their results. Other studies may appear valid but then fail when other centers attempt to repeat them. The process of separating fact from fiction is incredibly difficult, and unfortunatly, extremely inaccessible to those who have not dedicated their lives to this pursuit.

    Let me repeat your plea. Just come see us. Contrary to prior posts over a third of my patient never pay me, and that’s OK. If you have questions about a alternative therapy — bring it in and see what I have to offer as well. At least come in, see me and see what I have to offer. I’d hate to see anyone else suffer what I can fix.

  57. I want to direct anyone who has skimmed the comments to go back and read Eric Gunnerson’s comment thoroughly. He has explained how confusion about alternative medicine comes about and posted URLs for sites that debunk most alternative medicine claims.

    I agree with John Melville that anything ‘alternative’ that is proven effective will be added to mainstream medicine. For example, aloe, the traditional treatment for inflammation in Southern Africa, is now taken for granted in the West. The problem is that most alternative medicine claims will never be proven effective.

    I can’t agree with the ‘something is better than nothing’ reasoning of some supporters of alternative medicine. Sometimes the ‘something’ is worse than nothing.

    People who are interested in the topic will have been following the saga of Katie Wernecke, the teenager whose father convinced the Texas courts (possibly the most inept in the country) to allow him to withhold lifesaving treatment from her in November. The girl is now getting ‘secret’alternative treatment somewhere — likely laetrile in Mexico. (The father’s previous claim that injections of Vitamin C would cure the girl’s leukemia have apparently been abandoned.) I think this scenario — a parent causing a child’s death rather than accept that conventional medicine is the only alternative — is one of the worse imaginable.

  58. I want to direct anyone who has skimmed the comments to go back and read Eric Gunnerson’s comment thoroughly. He has explained how confusion about alternative medicine comes about and posted URLs for sites that debunk most alternative medicine claims.

    I agree with John Melville that anything ‘alternative’ that is proven effective will be added to mainstream medicine. For example, aloe, the traditional treatment for inflammation in Southern Africa, is now taken for granted in the West. The problem is that most alternative medicine claims will never be proven effective.

    I can’t agree with the ‘something is better than nothing’ reasoning of some supporters of alternative medicine. Sometimes the ‘something’ is worse than nothing.

    People who are interested in the topic will have been following the saga of Katie Wernecke, the teenager whose father convinced the Texas courts (possibly the most inept in the country) to allow him to withhold lifesaving treatment from her in November. The girl is now getting ‘secret’alternative treatment somewhere — likely laetrile in Mexico. (The father’s previous claim that injections of Vitamin C would cure the girl’s leukemia have apparently been abandoned.) I think this scenario — a parent causing a child’s death rather than accept that conventional medicine is the only alternative — is one of the worse imaginable.

  59. I honestly don’t understand why someone would not want to see a doctor. I understand if they are poor or something, but just plain fear of the doctor doesn’t make sense.

  60. I honestly don’t understand why someone would not want to see a doctor. I understand if they are poor or something, but just plain fear of the doctor doesn’t make sense.

  61. I am a widow, because my husband saw a doctor. He saw them, he took their medicines. They did a gastroscopy, and didn’t stop the blood thinners. He died as a result of a stupid test and their stupid mistakes.
    It is a well known fact that when the doctors strike in the UK the mortality rate GOES DOWN!

  62. I am a widow, because my husband saw a doctor. He saw them, he took their medicines. They did a gastroscopy, and didn’t stop the blood thinners. He died as a result of a stupid test and their stupid mistakes.
    It is a well known fact that when the doctors strike in the UK the mortality rate GOES DOWN!

  63. 34 Doctor’s going strike??? That’s about the most anti-capitalist and anti-hypocratic oath thing I’ve ever heard. How in the world does a doctor go on strike? Striking against whom? Their patients?

  64. 34 Doctor’s going strike??? That’s about the most anti-capitalist and anti-hypocratic oath thing I’ve ever heard. How in the world does a doctor go on strike? Striking against whom? Their patients?

  65. I am a physician and let me tell you, almost all of us do our best out of love and devotion to our patients. I spend more time in the hospital taking care of patients that I do at home with my family.

    Today, I saw a woman that I had taken care of a few weeks ago take her first steps out of the ICU after she accidentally overdosed on Tylenol. She nearly died of liver failure. She is alive today because of the medical care she received. Her smile was the best compensation that I could ever receive.

    We aren’t perfect and sometimes, mistakes are made. You can point out as many anecdotal mistakes/errors/etc. as you want but the modern medical system is a miracle of unimagined proportions. Simply, we are better able to save people who otherwise would die.

    Robert – my past disagreements with you aside, my condolences to you and your family.

  66. I am a physician and let me tell you, almost all of us do our best out of love and devotion to our patients. I spend more time in the hospital taking care of patients that I do at home with my family.

    Today, I saw a woman that I had taken care of a few weeks ago take her first steps out of the ICU after she accidentally overdosed on Tylenol. She nearly died of liver failure. She is alive today because of the medical care she received. Her smile was the best compensation that I could ever receive.

    We aren’t perfect and sometimes, mistakes are made. You can point out as many anecdotal mistakes/errors/etc. as you want but the modern medical system is a miracle of unimagined proportions. Simply, we are better able to save people who otherwise would die.

    Robert – my past disagreements with you aside, my condolences to you and your family.

  67. breast cancer is a deadly disease that kills number of womens through out the world, it is a pionerring effort to spread the knowledge.

  68. breast cancer is a deadly disease that kills number of womens through out the world, it is a pionerring effort to spread the knowledge.

  69. Sue (number 34) we’ve not had any doctors striking in the UK. Robert, so sorry for the loss of your Mom.

    I’m a complementary therapist in the UK – note I say “complementary”, not “alternative”. One of the therapies I practice in, hypnotherapy, has been recognised by the British Medical Association since 1955. But, nothing can beat conventional medicine when it comes to emergency medicine or management of certain conditions, and I would not treat patients with life-threatening or potentially life-threatening illnesses without being absolutely sure that the patient was seeing a GP as well and only with the GP’s agreement. And I would certainly never claim to be able to cure anything. In the UK we are lucky enough to have the NHS (National Health Service), ancient and creaking though it is. Everyone is entitled to see a doctor without charge, although you might have to wait six months for a hip replacement or specialist referral!

  70. Sue (number 34) we’ve not had any doctors striking in the UK. Robert, so sorry for the loss of your Mom.

    I’m a complementary therapist in the UK – note I say “complementary”, not “alternative”. One of the therapies I practice in, hypnotherapy, has been recognised by the British Medical Association since 1955. But, nothing can beat conventional medicine when it comes to emergency medicine or management of certain conditions, and I would not treat patients with life-threatening or potentially life-threatening illnesses without being absolutely sure that the patient was seeing a GP as well and only with the GP’s agreement. And I would certainly never claim to be able to cure anything. In the UK we are lucky enough to have the NHS (National Health Service), ancient and creaking though it is. Everyone is entitled to see a doctor without charge, although you might have to wait six months for a hip replacement or specialist referral!

  71. I agree that everyone is entitled to see a doctor without charge. I just wish that herbal medicine was more accepted as I think it is a real boon for I’ve seen its benefits. I think Western medicine combined with herbal medicine and/or alternative medicine could be a real good thing. Of course, I know others have different points of view from mine.

  72. I agree that everyone is entitled to see a doctor without charge. I just wish that herbal medicine was more accepted as I think it is a real boon for I’ve seen its benefits. I think Western medicine combined with herbal medicine and/or alternative medicine could be a real good thing. Of course, I know others have different points of view from mine.

  73. I’ve read through this blog and just about everyone has valid points to make, that is, in my opinion.

    But one thing that seems to have been missed is that whether Alternative Medicines are genuine or otherwise, if there is a benefit from them, then nobody has the right to knock them.

    To give an example, I once attended a series of ‘psychic Surgery’ (when a healer apparently puts his or her hands inside the body and removes unhealthy tissue) sessions and was impressed at the number of people who were ‘believers’.

    Mostly they reported feeling better after the ‘surgery’.

    Shortly afterwards BBC TV (this is in the U.K.) did a program that showed the ‘psychic surgeons’ to be fakes.

    Normally, I would have applauded that but I realised that the many people who ‘believed’ they had benefited would lose all confidence in anything alternative again as a result.

    I have no doubt that the BBC were responsible for creating a great deal of misery in those poor people when they gave up hope of ever being cured by conventional or other means.

    Incidentally, I investigated ‘psychic surgery’ in the Philippines together with all sorts of other healing with the intention of writing a book, but decided not to do so as I would have put myself in the same category as the BBC. (I was not at all convinced the ‘surgery’ I witnessed and other healing was genuine).

    One thing I can say with certainty as a Hypnotherapy Trainer. If a client benefits from the therapy or treatment given, then I can see no reason to have scientific investigations.

    Besides, most Alternative Medicine works on your spiritual (psychic) energy and science has not yet found a way of proving it even exists – perhaps in another hundred years the truth will be out, whether negative or positive (smile).

    Robert Shields
    http://www.hypnotherapy-training.com

  74. I’ve read through this blog and just about everyone has valid points to make, that is, in my opinion.

    But one thing that seems to have been missed is that whether Alternative Medicines are genuine or otherwise, if there is a benefit from them, then nobody has the right to knock them.

    To give an example, I once attended a series of ‘psychic Surgery’ (when a healer apparently puts his or her hands inside the body and removes unhealthy tissue) sessions and was impressed at the number of people who were ‘believers’.

    Mostly they reported feeling better after the ‘surgery’.

    Shortly afterwards BBC TV (this is in the U.K.) did a program that showed the ‘psychic surgeons’ to be fakes.

    Normally, I would have applauded that but I realised that the many people who ‘believed’ they had benefited would lose all confidence in anything alternative again as a result.

    I have no doubt that the BBC were responsible for creating a great deal of misery in those poor people when they gave up hope of ever being cured by conventional or other means.

    Incidentally, I investigated ‘psychic surgery’ in the Philippines together with all sorts of other healing with the intention of writing a book, but decided not to do so as I would have put myself in the same category as the BBC. (I was not at all convinced the ‘surgery’ I witnessed and other healing was genuine).

    One thing I can say with certainty as a Hypnotherapy Trainer. If a client benefits from the therapy or treatment given, then I can see no reason to have scientific investigations.

    Besides, most Alternative Medicine works on your spiritual (psychic) energy and science has not yet found a way of proving it even exists – perhaps in another hundred years the truth will be out, whether negative or positive (smile).

    Robert Shields
    http://www.hypnotherapy-training.com

  75. Looking for articles showing major hospitals closing and the death rate going down about 17%.

    This page shows the type of disease people are getting well from overnight.
    http://www.bammm.org/ncd/testimonialsa.htm

    http://www.bammm.org/5.htm
    Dr. Gabriel Cousens M.D.M.D.(H) (Green Juice Fast – Emergency Formula)Go down the page and read the graph.

    You may want to book mark this page because all the links are here.
    http://www.bammm.org/9.htm

    Take care,

    Wayne

  76. Looking for articles showing major hospitals closing and the death rate going down about 17%.

    This page shows the type of disease people are getting well from overnight.
    http://www.bammm.org/ncd/testimonialsa.htm

    http://www.bammm.org/5.htm
    Dr. Gabriel Cousens M.D.M.D.(H) (Green Juice Fast – Emergency Formula)Go down the page and read the graph.

    You may want to book mark this page because all the links are here.
    http://www.bammm.org/9.htm

    Take care,

    Wayne