Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I posted this as a comment over at Sheryl's fun blog, "A Thought Vacuum" (see links), and thought I might as well post it here too:

My uncle has an interesting take on surgeons: he doesn't want to be cut on by someone who enjoys cutting on people. I suppose he could look at it in such a way that it would be reassuring to be operated on by somebody who likes their work, but I can see where he is coming from.

Being the kind of science guy I am, I trust modern medicine in most cases... although I would not hesitate to augment a modern medical treatment with some naturopathic things that have been around lots longer. I think one ought to take a wholistic approach to prevention and healing, and a lot of natural remedies have been around for thousands of years... Are those remedies effective? I think this may not be borne out by research in a lot of cases, but I would love to see scienctists doing more extensive research on natural rememdies that might not be as invasive or potentially harmful to people as some of the current ones science has given us.

A good friend of mine at work has been cancer-free for about a year and a half since the discovery of an aggressive squamous cell tumor in his neck. He took the radiation and chemotherapy route, and supplemented his treatment with specific herbal remedies. So far so good, and he is back at work and not taking life for granted in any way, shape or form. Given a similar situation, I would also opt for a combination of approaches.

My wife and I have double-coverage on our health insurance, so we basically get everything paid for after the monthy premiums deducted from our paychecks. I work in the public school system and at local the hospital after school, and she works as a nurse at the hospital. I had an MRI done on my back yesterday, and I think it will be covered entirely by our insurance. But I do know there are millions of people in America who are hit with big-time medical bills and simply don't have the money to pay the costs. This is a national problem.

As for doctors in general, some of us tend to rant about their desire to make money, to not be looking after the best interests of patients, etc. I tend to rant on them too, but for different reasons. Because I work with them in my after-school job at the hospital, I run into a few arrogant types with God complexes. They tend to not understand a lot about speech therapy, just like I might not understand much about neurology or about the mechanics of disease. They sure don't like it when I try to explain something to them, because most of them think they know all there is to know already. I have made sound decisions about diets for patients with swallowing problems, only to be overridden by a doctor... arrrrrgh.

My doctor? I like him. He's a lefty, a very relaxed guy, but he always gets right to the point, no games. I had avoided seeing him about my bad back for at least two months, not because I don't like him, but because I didn't want to hear the bad news I knew he would give me: "You need an MRI because I think you have one, maybe two herniated discs." Scheise.

Oh well. I have been trying physical therapy and chiropractic in order to stabilize my lower spine since I threw things out of whack lifting musical equipment on July 4. Because my back musculature still has not stabilized and because my back has basically been killing me for five months, I'm considering something more invasive, like a surgery... but I'll wait for the MRI results. Maybe it will just take a long time to heal, and surgery won't be needed.

Whatever happens with my back, I hope I won't end up needing surgery... because I understand what my uncle says when he talks about surgeons!


Blogger ComfyRest said...

My problem was pain from a herniated neck disk. Among my different aspects of my life it was a severe problem during a vacation at the beach while lying on my stomach in the sun with my head turned to the side to breathe. I ultimately invented and patented the SquidFace and ComfyRest pillows to relieve my pain. These pillows enable me to lie facedown comfortably and breathe without turning my head to the side. Unexpected benefits of these pillows are snoring relief; Neck, shoulder and back muscle tension relief; sinus, migraine, ear pain, snoring and more. Stomach sleepers are finding their backs feel better after using these pillows. Many of the benefits are on my website.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Squidface- weren't you the bad guy in the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie?

Sorry to hear your back has been such a source of pain, Snave. I know how excruciating it can be.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Dang, Snave, I think you just got spammed. I understand and agree with your point. Probably the three most effective naturopathic/alternative remedies I've heard of are acupuncture for what you're describing, and ginger for motion sickness, nausea, and other digestive problems; and anise seed or its extract (some good, all natural black licorice is a nice source) helps move the mail. As for me, I figure that if you attack the same problem from multiple angles, as long as the treatments don't interfere with one another or cause an even greater problem, you stand a better chance of a recovery. To do otherwise is just crazy.

I hope your back doesn't require going under the knife.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

I wish you luck with your back. I agree there needs to be a balance between modern Western medicine and the traditional cures that have been around for centuries.

Doctors get most of their training from medical journals which are published by -- the pharmaceutical industry. And for some odd reason, their whole perspective is centered around drugs and surgery. I can't imagine why.

Western medicine (pills, vaccines) works much faster than herbal therapy (and sometimes drugs or surgery is the only answer). But it seems like when modern cures were being discovered, society tossed out the baby with the bathwater by forgetting about herbal/natural therapies just because they didn't work as fast.

If you do need back surgery, I have a friend who threw out his back lifting weights. After he recovered from his surgery, he ended up deadlifting much heavier weights than he ever did before his surgery.

But I hope you can fix your back with natural methods and avoid surgery.

Who Hijacked Our Country

6:31 PM  
Blogger Lizzy said...

I'm sorry to hear about your bad back, Snave. I hope you won't need surgery. Please keep us posted.

As far as western & eastern medicine goes, I believe in both. Increasingly, I've been hearing how alternative medicines & therapies are being brought into western medicine, which is a good thing.

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, she embraced alternative medicine, but also followed her doctors recommendation to have chemotherapy. I believe her approach added a couple years to her life. She died in 1999.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

Actually, I think surgeons are about the only doctors I do trust. They are dealing specific issues, so they don't need to know about the body as a whole so much.

Like I was thinking about my own back problems. My back problems are related to stomach/gall bladder problems, which judging by some things I was reading online may well be a result of my ovary problems, which is a result of hormone problems. And I was just reading that they figure the hormone problems from polycystic ovaries may be a result from not being able to breathe properly when you sleep. So it's like a spiral chain of problems, where effectively my back may be driving me nuts because of breathing problems when I sleep.

But surgery is pretty cut and dry. If the cancer is located in location X, then they remove it from location X. They aren't dealing with the whole system, so that can zoom in and get things right occasionally. Especially with all the catscans and MRIs and everything. They know before they cut into you what needs to be done.

It seems like even when the modern doctors know what is wrong with you from test after test after test, they kind of out to lunch about what to do about it.

Probably back problems are more cut and dry than anything that affects the endocrinological part of the body.

10:15 PM  
Blogger pissed off patricia said...

I hope you can avoid surgery but if that's the only answer to relieve the pain, go for it.

7:05 AM  
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11:11 PM  

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