Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bad Medicine .. Dr. Mom Is "In"

Taking a break from canning soup from the garden and scoring spare change in the bottom of the washing machine, today I was pondering (not surprisingly): Health Care.

Just to clarify, if anything ever comes up that requires any of our family to need actual Medical Care performed on them, I will be ON it.  Until then...I will continue to fill in the blank on the school forms for "Family Doctor" with the word:   (nothing)

When our kids were little, we worried about everysinglething, every sniffle, every cough. We went through their early years attending ALL the recommended yearly or biannual or q.3 monthly Well-Baby Check Ups, immunizations, growth diagrams and percentiles charting how fast our babies were growing, teething, sleeping through the night, spitting up, sitting up, pulling up, walking, talking, learning advanced math, etc.  But after the second baby, though, doesn't it all just kind of seem like …WHATEVER?  After affixing the last "Required" gold star on my imaginary parenting progress sheet under the column of "You must take your child to the doctor, whether they are sick or not, at least several times a year, FOREVER", I just sort of…quit, after about age 3, or 5, or whenever that last 'required' shot was due.  It's been awhile--they're in high school now...
And guess what?  We're all still fine.  Having faced sometimes horrified looks of new mothers who ask me, "OMG. You haven't take your kids in for a physical in HOW long?!?" with the answer of "And why not? They're fine.  I don't have an extra $200 to give to someone to tell me that…yes, they're still fine.  I know this…I live with them."  Of course, sometimes there's always that fear that, what if I'm missing something?  What if we *seem* fine, but if we go in and see a doctor and get that X-Ray, MRI, CT scan, biopsy, and/or full blood panel, we find out that we're not fine?  What if *seeming* fine is a cover for OMGyou'reSOsick? 
Well, I guess I'd rather just *seem* fine, and save that money for a trip to the doctor for when I know I am NOT fine.  I'm pretty sure that, if I go in and ask for a million tests of everycellinmybody…pretty much guaranteed, they will probably find something that needs medicating or injecting or removing or watching or biopsying or having some form of Medical Science performed on it, and then suddenly I'll feel queasy and ill, and omigoshimsick, and then tah-dah--you're Sick and taking a giant list of meds (with side effects like "seizures", "blindness", and "death"--really?) out of one of those nifty color-coded, day-labeled pill dispensers, and your life now revolves around your next doctor appointment and whether you can eat this or that, how many times you've peed today, and whether today is a "good day" or a "bad day", medically speaking...
No.Thank.You.  I'll keep enjoying the garden a little longer, if you don't mind.
Like many people I know these days, our family is on the new (and fairly common) all-American health plan, (especially as we happen to be self-employed to boot), which I like to call the DGS Plan.  Which means:  DON'T GET SICK.  (ever).  I also worked for 16 years in the medical field, more than 12 of those as a medical transcriptionist for high-traffic hospitals, like Cedars Sinai Medical Center in L.A. and Boston Medical Center, so I have seen me some weird medical stuff, y'all.  Trust me.  If it can be dragged into the ER or the OR, there is a transcribed report for that, and I have typed hundreds of thousands of them. 
I have typed reports for every surgery and medical condition you can imagine, and probably many (many) that you'd never dream of.  I have typed reports for everyone from homeless people to celebrities, for everything from a common cold to a report that started with "She seemed fine when she came in" and ended three paragraphs later with "Time of Death:  0600". 
I have typed psychiatric notes, x-ray reports, brain surgeries, open-heart surgeries, transplants, replacements, amputations, augmentations, reductions, cataract removals, back surgeries, joint replacements, gastric bypasses, and gangrene treatments.  I can't think of a single medical procedure I haven't heard through headphones, dictated by this country's best physicians.
I have typed ER visits for everything from attempted suicides to trampoline accidents, car-versus-pedestrian injuries, stabbings, shootings, domestic violence, a guy who accidentally nailed his arm with a nail gun, and a woman who was afraid she was being robbed and hid her wedding ring somewhere she really should NOT have and then couldn't retrieve it.  Also, FYI: concerning Viagra…do not believe "if some is good, more is better"…that scenario is not pretty, and very painful, two days later… Just sayin'.
So...dont' get me wrong:  I have a lot of faith in doctors.  I love doctors.  I loved working with them, and I appreciate them in every way--when they're needed.
However.  I also grew up in the hippied-out 70s with a family who did the whole Back to Nature thing.  I grew up with organic everything, and I have seen the successful use of non-medical treatment for just about everything you can experience (outside of broken bones and severe trauma), with herbal and natural remedies, so I trust what I know, too.  I'd rather treat a flu or a cold, aches and pains anytime with lots of rest, tea, Vitamin C, goldenseal, echinacea, ice packs, hot packs, etc., rather than a trip to the doctor, where you won't get much more (and I don't like prescriptions, just because I think they're overdone to infinity, unless they are really really necessary), but you may come home with something much more serious than your initial complaint, just from sitting in the waiting room.  (Hello--they're all they're because they're also SICK).  I'd rather stay home and fight stuff in the safety of our own environment, thanks anyway. 
Plus we now own a collection to rival most medical closets, of almost every brace and/or support known to man, including an ankle brace, combo foot/ankle brace, knee supports, full leg brace, back braces, Ace wraps, wrist brace, carpal tunnel wrist support, finger splints in all sizes, and a thumb brace/wrist wrap.  I think the only things we don't have are a cervical collar and a walking boot/cast thing.  Oh, and a shoulder sling.  Which should tell you...our family has been fairly blessed with mainly non-serious prior injuries...
I think my kids thought I was crazy, or just a terrible parent, when they were younger, because they'd come to me pointing at their arm or leg or side or wherever and saying "This feels like something is really wrong.  I think I have a disease.  Or the bone is broken.  Or dislocated.  Or diseased and dislocated.  Or it could be a rare new condition unknown to medical science.  We should probably have a doctor look at this."  And I'd look at it, and say, "Well, it looks fine to me.  Give it a rest for a bit, take some Motrin/herb tea/ice pack/etc., and see how you do."  And sure enough…they're fine.  Wonder of wonders.  Other than ear infections, which I know better than to mess with, pretty much every ailment they went through as children, worked itself out just fine without a trip to the ER or the pediatrician's office.  Except for the time our youngest broke her thumb riding the mechanical bull at the fair...and when our oldest fell straight down into the crack between the back of the U-Haul truck and the unloading hoist mechanism, and stopped the fall--with her jaw...
I also laugh sometimes because I hear my mom in my replies to them when they were younger and said, "It hurts whenever I do THIS," and I'd say "So, don't DO that…" Ahmigash, that's my MOM…sorry, girls. 
I know I may err too far on the side of  "Unless you're currently carrying your severed ear in a box, bleeding out an artery, or have a bone protruding from the skin, you're probably FINE."  But when I say this, it's because I am certain (truly) that the doctor, who will charge us $200.00 to see him, will also tell you:  You're FINE.  Rest, ice and elevate.  Or… bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.  Or…stay home from school and get lots of fluids.  Or, don't ride your skateboard barefoot next time.  I KNOW THESE THINGS.
I am also lucky that one of my dearest and oldest friends (who was right there with me, through those hippie childhood years) has been an RN for over 20 years, so whenever I think I'm being a bad mother and I might be missing some truly medically necessary trip to a doctor or an ER, even without a bone protruding from the skin, I can call and run the symptoms by her and get Real Medical Advice from her.
So...thanks Mom for all the natural remedies growing up, and thanks Teirza, for all the Actual Medical Advice ever since.  I owe you some soup, but the spare change in the washer is mine, baby.   :)



  1. Yeah. It's freaking AWESOME. It does tend to give you a looser grasp of the term "medically necessary"...