Saturday, November 1, 2008

Medicine

Health and healing have eluded me most my life. I'm not decrepit, or anything, and I can usually work around my handicaps and still be productive in life. My health has, however, always kept me from really doing my best.

I'm not sure what's wrong with me--and the doctors don't really know either. I've been tested for auto-immune diseases, viral, bacterial, psychiatric and neurological diseases. All but the neurological come up as the same thing, "healthy as a horse." I don't suffer from anxiety or depression. I have exceptionally good blood, and the blood banks want me to donate more often. I don't appear to have any serious allergies (with the exception of cats and dogs that make me itch and close off my throat, but that's not a big deal to me), but I am still very sick.

I shake. That's really the best way to describe it. I have instances where my arm will tense up to the point that it vibrates and shakes. These can last for hours--and when they're done, I feel like I've been lifting extremely heavy weights for hours and hours.

Anyways, my disease isn't what's important. I'm more concerned with handling it properly. Given that these have happened for three years now, I recognize the futility of being angry at myself or at my inability to overcome this problem. It's pointless, and quite frankly, life just has some limitations that we cannot get around. You're always gonna need air to breathe, time will always pass, and you're going to die. Really not much point at getting angry or upset about any of those things, and I've come to accept this disease in those terms.

I was mis-diagnosed yesterday by a neurologist, who prescribed me some anti-anxiety medication. A few hours afteer I took that medication--I was having the most visible tremors I've ever had. My wife could tell I was shaking from about 20 yards away. I was playing a game--something I usually do to help me relax and alleviate the shaking. I hadn't even finished turning the game on when my right hand started vibrating.

I realized that I hadn't eaten anything recently, and no one has thought to rule out hypoglycemia as an underlying cause, so I went to grab something to eat. I couldn't stay still long enough to really cut my food--but I did get some of it in. That shaking lasted for about 2 hours. Today wasn't particularly stressful too.

I believe the neurologist simply gave me the wrong thing, and wanted me out of his office as quickly as possible so he could leave early for halloween celebrations. From my view, I've been puzzling over this illness with doctors and medical professionals alike for three years, and three minutes with a patient isn't enough to fully diagnose the problem.

I have learned a few things about medicine through all this doctoring and diagnosing. Nothing can substitute effort and work. Concern and personal attachment often go with that--but in that field, like any other, you need work to be proficient in it.

For difficult problems,they deserve your time and attention. For the routine and mundane tasks, they deserve your focus and gumption. There's no substitute for that. I know, I work in that type of field--where your opinion, ability, and perception are a large part of your paycheck.

I think I've done enough to illustrate that hard work is essential to medicine. There are a few other things that I think make a good healer. The first is faith. You have to believe there's a problem, and that there's a cure. Simple problems should have relatively simple cures (occassional back pain, occassional medication,probably just tylenol). If the cure becomes to complex, and the problem is tolerable or livible, then the cure isn't one,and needs to be improved. My point is, you need to have a measure of faith that something is wrong and that you can help. Even a psychosomatic has a problem--and deserves a measure of empathy and concern. Confusion and ignorance are not a healers primary enemies--that is given to educators, and even someone pretending to be sick should be treated as though they need a cure (a wise physician would recognize that the best cure would be lasting friendships and activities that enrich life in that case, of course)

The next good quality for a healer to have is a complete lack of prejudice. You might have seen the common cold hundereds of times--it might be the height of flu season. Walking into an office and assuming that it is one of these common ailments is wrong. Prescribing and advising treatement for these certainly isn't, but a careful consideration of the actual symptoms is in order--you don't deserve compensation if you're just going to blanket coat your diagnoses. People, from their very beginnings, were not designed to be put through a conveyor belt. Patients deserve your ear. You can know when they're lying, you can ask questions to clarify, but you cannot assume you know what the problem is under any circumstance. Keep a running personal probability table in the back of your mind, use judgment and wisdom, and hope for the best.

Lastly, study all aveneus of treatment. Not just "alternative methods" of healing, but keep up with studies on medications, and on techniques. When appropriate, study the effects of treatments on your patients--even for well known and documented drugs. Our bodies are so complicated that we probably don't fully understand all the implications of an acidic derivative of White Willow Bark on the human body. The chemical came from something of comparable complexity as the human body, and the interaction between those two cannot be simply having the body "tak on" the extra elements it needs to form the complete molecule. Just for those non-medically nerdy readers, I'm actually talking about aspirin here.

Anyway, I don't think doctors are the only ones who should be healers. Friends, co-workers, spouses, and certainly mothers and fathers ought to be healers too. Moms need to know of the problems at school, and discuss treatments with peer groups and other professional mothers. You can never assume that a coworker is depressed simply because you know his girlfriend dumped him--you have to ask questions and help him express his frustration to really determine why he looks bummed out. Not only that, but you need to believe that there is a way to help everyone--even if you can't fully cure their problem.

Why I'm (still) a Mormon

I don't expect much more to ever be posted on this blog, and I'm largely just posting this to share it with some particular friends....