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In February, I spent two weeks in the hospital – ushered in through the Emergency Room – and eleven days of that in critical care. The month's final week found me at home again, weak and tired. Throughout March, I have slowly crept out of that sudden, unexpected abyss, to re-orient, re-group. After about thirty years as an adult in excellent health under my own "alternative" recognizance, it was quite a shock to take up the identity of Hospital Patient and, then, Outpatient thereafter. I do have a background in Medicine, working for years with doctors, in and out of hospitals. I think this helped immensely; my hospital course was never scary for me.
Convalescence has been more challenging than hospitalization was. I have been visited by six different home healthcare professionals, two different unknown maids, three or four outside contractors and my apartment building's maintenance man a few times. I have taken regular pharmacy deliveries. I've had four appointments with three MDs and been to a laboratory to drop off a specimen. I've also shopped at the supermarket a couple of times, had a couple of friends over for dinner, and returned to work here and there.
In my lifetime, my Standard Operating Procedure has involved amassing tons of scholarship on any and every subject I encounter, and during the past 5 and a half weeks that's been my continued and constant practice. I have studied each drug I'm taking, each drug I took in the hospital (after remembering them!) (and there were many), each procedure I underwent in ER, ICU, TICU and on the ward; various hospital practices and protocols; the Hospitalist specialty; the Intensivist specialty; the history of Intensive Care; ICU nursing, and more. I've of course studied my own disease and conditions - their stages, causes, treatments and prognoses.
During my hospitalization I encountered the whole gamut of career-suitability of various practitioners, from shining examples of professionalism, to those with clearly inappropriate motives for being in health care; from the energetic and thorough to the lazy and disinterested, to the exhausted. As an outpatient and in-home consumer of Home Healthcare services, I've observed the same range.
And now? I enter another phase: No Longer Med-Free. While investigating their possible side-effects and interactions, and correcting the various nutrient-depletions they cause, I'm also physically processing new drugs, monitoring their effects in addition to monitoring vital signs and treating symptoms in non-Rx ways. Plus: I'm also having to make dietary and lifestyle adjustments. In the hospital, it was easier: All I had to do was let other people keep me alive.
We natural-types have to be on guard against disdain of the allopathic system's "Magic Pill" answers when a quick improvement is imperative. In the ICU, this was literally and immediately a matter of Life and Death. At home, while the stakes are less immediate, they are just as serious: The "right" medication can immediately restore function to an exhausted patient who is challenged or failing. Yes - under better circumstances, one has months to compare modalities, to experiment with supplements that are less toxic, and their dosages. For my part, I'm discovering that Rx meds are right for me NOW - because I haven't had the luxury of months or years to plan for new conditions and their treatments. I'm cutting myself that slack, knowing I can wean myself from them later, when I'm stronger and have emerged more completely from the convalescent stage. Perhaps I will blog about the process of jettisoning those crutches? We'll see.
Meanwhile, I count myself blessed to be under the oversight and care of a fine MD who is forthcoming, friendly, flexible, considerate and accessible. In his practice, he routinely uses diet, exercise/fitness and nutritional supplementation in addition to Rx meds and allopathic methods. I feel safe letting him share responsibility for my health at this point, because this flurry of self-education (while mentally fascinating) is unable to keep pace with the urgency of my situation and the variety and depth of medical/pharmacological knowledge required.
I'm blogging on a natural health site. I'm pursuing a Complementary Medicine program. Bear with me. Thanks.
I completely agree with you on the necessity of pharmaceuticals in specific health situations. I'm very glad we have those tools available for serious health conditions, when natural treatments aren't enough, and in acute situations when you can't wait for natural remedies to take effect.
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