Modern Medicine is Failing Many of Us
The very word modern brings to mind other words like cutting edge, innovative, life-changing, and others. Unfortunately, while so many advancements have been made in medicine, I feel like modern medicine is failing us in the end.
Don’t get me wrong. No doubt there are numerous lives that have been saved by the current trends in medicine. And many illnesses are seeing longer life expectancies than they were even 10 years ago.
In fact, the primary illness I suffer with, myasthenia gravis, had a mortality rate of 70% or more prior to the 1970s. I’m thankful I can feel more encouraged by the current statistics which show a substantially lower mortality rate.
This type of improved outcome can offer hope to the many who suffer from inevitably fatal diseases like ALS that maybe those types of disease will not always be fatal.
Physicians need to dump the one-size-fits-all approach to medicine.
But as someone who is chronically ill, I think we have a long way to go to improve healthcare for everyone. I, for one, think that formula medicine is part of the problem in our current healthcare system. I’m not even sure what to call it, so I’ll call it formula medicine.
Basically, what I mean is that doctors are often taught that illness A has this treatment, illness B has this treatment, and illness C has this treatment. That much makes sense. They’re taught to expect that a given treatment should nearly always have a certain outcome, particularly where chronic illness is concerned. I’m just speculating on this by the experience I’ve had in doctor’s offices.
Physicians spend many years studying to become doctors. In their training, I’m speculating (and would welcome any physician offering their thoughts on this) that they’re often given a one-size-fits-all approach to medicine.
Dispense A, B, or C medication, check back with the patient in six months. Rinse, lather, repeat.
Unfortunately, when a patient doesn’t get better, they’re often discounted. But, the truth is that some patients are just refractory or need another treatment approach.
In the meantime, we’re not asked about our quality of life and truthfully speaking, the rare times that we are, how many of us feel at liberty to really disclose all of our daily struggles? Many of us have faced repeated criticisms from our doctors, particularly when we don’t get well, even though we have an illness that is documented as life-changing, life-challenging, and perhaps life-threatening.
I have multiple autoimmune illnesses which only compounds the problem. Part of the struggle I face is constantly having to assess which illness is causing which problem.
Perhaps both a doctor and a patient need to think outside of the box, away from formula medicine to truly maximize a patient’s quality of life.
For instance, I’m starting to realize that certain foods influence my health in a negative way. And I’m trying to avoid those foods.
The point is that physicians truly are overworked and overloaded. That much I understand and have empathy for. And I think that many doctors have the best intentions when treating their patients.
But, I still believe so many could do better in their approach to treating patients, beginning with how they communicate with patients. Communication is the first line of trust between a patient and a doctor and if a doctor doesn’t build that rapport, how can he or she truly help a patient?
Another thing is that patients should be partners in their own healthcare. No one knows their body more and has more at stake than a patient. If a patient can bring valuable insight to their own care, a doctor shouldn’t feel threatened by it if makes sense, particularly if it’s backed by research or scientific data.
The best physician I ever had allowed me to do this. If I learned of another treatment option to treat my rare disease, I’d print information that I found from journals and bring it to him. He was always willing to try something that might help me. And, in turn, this built trust between us.
By the same token, if he recommended something, I was more willing to try it because I felt he had my best interest at heart. I should also say that this same physician told me that many doctors’ treatments are reward-based. That is, doctors will often prescribe a medication that they receive kickbacks on from pharmaceutical companies and don’t always prescribe what they actually believe might be the best medication for the patient.
He said it goes something like this: write x number of prescriptions in a month and in doing so, receive very lucrative reimbursements. I had always suspected as much. This is one example of the American pharmaceutical industry as well as some physicians putting profits before patients.
I’m very thankful for the treatments I receive. I’m also blessed to have a pretty good neurologist, a great infusion nurse, and a good health insurance policy.
The infusions I get every two weeks cost my insurance company and me thousands of dollars. I compared notes with another patient that lived in another country and the same medication costs her a third of what it costs here in the U.S.
American medicine is failing us in so many ways, not the least of which is the unreasonable costs of keeping us alive.
We are living longer, but for those who are chronically ill, at what cost?
Is the quality of life that many with chronic illness have as good as we could hope for?
As someone who lives with myasthenia gravis and MCTD (components of lupus, arthritis, myositis, and Sjogren’s), I hope someday we can do better.
Patient outcome and experience should be primary considerations for physicians when treating a patient and that means assessing their quality of life.
The physician approach has to change in order for patients to truly benefit.
I actually love the concept of holistic or integrative medicine because it treats the whole patient. There are so many factors of my health besides my primary illnesses.
No doubt, much of the pain, weakness, and stiffness I suffer from are by-products of my body not moving the way that it should. Illness cripples a person’s abilities. I was once so active. Now, I struggle just to get basic things done. Some days, it’s even difficult to shower.
When you think about it, our bodies need to be in motion. Movement lubricates our joints by sending vital blood flow where it needs to go. So when we don’t move, it’s like an engine that’s not getting oil.
Physicians should realize the limitations that many patients with chronic illness face and help to address those issues. Not with bullying or lectures in an uncompassionate manner as I’ve so often experienced by doctors. But, from an evaluation standpoint to see what a patient is capable of doing.
Thankfully, I am hearing of more and more doctors treating patients from a wellness or preventative perspective and I think that’s a very much needed approach in modern medicine.
Sometimes a patient has to play a bigger part in their own healthcare.
In evaluating my own limitations, I’ve decided I could use some help. I’ve started seeing a chiropractor and I’m pleased with the results so far. I’ve been able to be a little more active since my recent chiropractic visit.
Progress in itself lends a positive effect on a patients’ outlook when it comes to dealing with their illness. It offers encouragement and lifts their spirits. As with anything, a positive outlook usually results in a better outcome.
No doubt, some patients experience chronic depression due to being sick. But, are antidepressants really the answer in this case? It probably depends on the depth of the depression and/or the patient themselves.
All I know is I don’t want my health to decline any further and I feel like it’s up to me at this point. I really don’t think modern medicine is the only answer for me.
Sometimes I feel like the medical profession thinks that once you’re ill, you give up the rights to have a fulfilling life or wanting more from a health standpoint. I think some practitioners think it should just be enough that you’re alive.
But being alive and breathing is not the same thing as truly living. And I for one want the most I can get out of life. I’m sure other patients would agree.