Putting together your health care team (notice I didn’t say medical team)
I must say for the past couple of years I’ve slacked off getting my annual check ups. But since I’m doing this 30-Day Self-Care Challenge, I’ve gotten back on track. I’ve now gotten my well-woman checkup including blood work, renewed my tetanus shot, and have scheduled a mammogram. I feel good about this.
When it comes to my health, I tend to have more faith in my ability to access the appropriate members of my “health team” than I do in running to the doctor for my every need.
Having a good doctor who listens to you, considers you a partner in your health care plan, and who respects your choices for healing is very important. They’re skilled in treating sickness and doing surgery–both important things when you need these skills. But who are the best choices for your medical team when you’re not in need of sickness care or surgery… when you simply want to stay well? I look for doctors and other health care professions who are open to alternative (or complimentary medicine), but they’re often hard to find.
Recently, I have been trouble shooting a knee problem. My chiropractor has been very open, he listens well to me, and he has tried a variety of things to get me back to normal. I appreciated his approach very much. Feeling that I needed a little more of a “look inside” my knee, I made an appointment for an ex-ray and a visit with a physical therapist. He cared more about interacting with his clipboard than he did with me. I felt that he perceived himself as the expert and that I didn’t know anything–big him, little me–as is sadly so common in the medical model. I found the experience awkward, embarrassing, and unsatisfactory–and in a later conversation with him when he called to schedule physical therapy with me–I told him of my unsatisfactory experience.
Next, I went to a physician group that specializes in orthopedic injuries, rehabilitation, and surgery. The doctor who saw me was young and I was hopeful that he would have an open mind about health care. So I told him about the positive effects I had received from chiropractic and an herbal tonic I had been rubbing on my knee. During my visit, his demeanor felt stern, unfriendly, critical. In that short visit he gave me a lecture about the knee tonic saying that my positive experience was the placebo effect and that it couldn’t possibly have helped me because herbs and supplements are not regulated by the FDA, etc. Next, he gave me a lecture about chiropractors saying they were only trained in the spine and that they wouldn’t know anything about knees. He knows this because he had visited chiropractic web sites! I didn’t bother to argue with him except to repeat that I had gotten very good care with my chiropractor.
This PT and MD were so old school I couldn’t believe it. Don’t they get it that they have competition in the natural healing arena that is growing by leaps and bounds in popularity? And if they continue to cut the patient out of the conversation, they won’t get very far with healing. After all, the patient lives in their body–they know it better than any so-called expert could ever know it. And it’s up to each one of us to be the best possible caretaker of our bodies–it’s one of our main responsibilities if we want to live a healthy, happy life.
I recommend putting together a strong health care team that you can access when you need help and advice about your physical health. Select professionals who consider you an equal partner in your health care. Your team might consist of the following professionals:
Massage therapist and other body workers
Family Practitioner (MD)
Don’t wait until you have a health event. Get your health care team lined up and develop good rapport with them. They can help you stay well.