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.

81 thoughts on “A doctor’s reminder

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

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

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

  14. 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?

  15. 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!

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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

  28. 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

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

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