I recently had some discussions in a forum about circumcision and vaccinations. The discussions, for the most part were pretty much the usual banter and rhetoric, but one thing stood out to me. The pro-vaccination and pro-circumcision mothers, mostly in their 20s and 30s were so willing to accept what their health care professionals told them - without question! And on the other side, the more seasons citizens leaned towards skepticism, myself included.
On looking back, I could see myself as the young mother I was, pretty much accepting everything I was told as well. I trusted because the people telling me these things had my best interest at heart, at least that's how it seemed to me at the time. But as I looked back even to my childhood and teenage years, I probably should have asked more questions, done more research and been a better advocate for myself.
I should add that as someone who works in the medical field I have worked for and with some wonderful doctors - but I've run across my share of jerks too. They are, after all, still people.
Anyway - here are 10 anecdotal events that have made me the skeptical health care consumer that I am today!
1. Stories throughout my childhood of how a "Dr. Schwartz" botched my uncle's birth resulting in a partial facial paralysis and slower mental capacity that he had for his entire life. In retrospect I think the problem was too much Pitocin.
2. DES and my mom - on the premise that she shouldn't take a chance with her pregnancy!
My mother went on to endure being strapped to a gurney and put into twilight sleep during one of her labors. She was also called a failure at breastfeeding because her big breasts didn't produce enough milk. It wasn't until I had my own children and mom saw me nursing them pretty much all the time that it occurred to both of us that it wasn't that she didn't have enough milk, but that they made her stay on a stupid nursing schedule of every 3 to 4 hours. No wonder her babies were always hungry and crying.
3. My grandmother admitted to the hospital where the hospital pharmacist was shocked at all her medication. The pharmacist also explained to my grandfather that part of her problem was the adverse reaction of all of her prescribed medications interacting with each other. Since all of her medications were prescribed by her family doctor you'd think he would have made note of which drugs interacted with each other!
Incidentally my grandfather had his own medical mishap when a doctor operated on his hands for a carpal tunnel like syndrome, and cut a nerve on both sides causing him to lose all the sensation in his fingertips. That was quite a disaster for my grandfather who was a welder, mechanic. I guess I can understand a mistake on one hand, but both of them leads me to believe this surgeon didn't know what he was doing.
4. Doctors telling my grandmother she would never walk or have use of her arm again. She did walk and she did get use of her arm again just by hard work and grit!
5. A neighbor girl suffered a severe reaction to a then-required and routine small pox vaccination that put her in the hospital and the rest of us on our knees, praying for her full recovery.
6. My first horrendous childbirth experience, the result of routine interventions that were required for convenience, and medicolegal reasons, but not necessarily for my good of the good of my baby.
7. My first son's circumcision - all the pain with none of the supposed benefit and the reason why we never went the circumcision route again.
8. A change in mom's personality and behavior that her docs wanted to pass off as dementia. With some persistence, my sister and I got to the root of the problem - a massive frontal lobe brain tumor!
9. Mom complaining of the classic signs of ovarian cancer for months to her oncologist, who never bothered to check it out. One palpation of her abdomen would have told him something was wrong and it makes me wonder what he did exactly at her office visits.
10. I use to be a big supporter of hospice but I am now skeptical of them too. Other than being a great resource for powerful pain killers if you nagged them enough, they were unavailable and unhelpful at the time mom actually died. The perky nurse that showed up AFTER she died gave me the urge to smash her in the face - which I controlled.
I should also mention that we picked this particular hospice, Asera Care, on the recommendation of one of the nursing home nurses. I asked her which hospice was best, and she said that one. In retrospect I should have asked her which hospice would have been best FOR MOM AND FOR US, and not for her. The reality was the nursing staff liked Asera Care because they stayed out of their way. I felt in some ways that mom's care fell into a limobo once hospice came on board - the nursing staff felt it was the hospice's responsibility and the hospice felt nursing home staff should always be responsible. It was in retrospect, a mess.
and a bonus reason - SLO's slow-growing breast cancer that hid itself despite years of recommended mammograms only to show up finally at stage III when her breast density had waned a bit.