“First Do No Harm” and Modern Medicine

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When I was growing up, my family had this person in our lives we called “the family physician.” We all went to him and he knew us all by name. I was not always keen on our family physician’s bedside manner, as he could almost sound a bit insulting. He knew his stuff though. I remember my father calling him brilliant one Christmas holiday he saved my grandmother’s life. She went on to live many many years longer, even with heart issues, and well after our doctor’s retirement. He treated my chicken pox, strep throat, allergies, severe reactions to antibiotics, and diagnosed my first pregnancy. I saw him into my early 20’s from when I was a child. Everything that could have been known about me medically, he knew. He treated everything, including some of my tears.

Now, we have a “primary care physician.” We are very fortunate when we get a good one. I know there are a lot of good ones out there. Although, what happens now, our insurance company pretty much determines who that will be or who is “in network”. Then, if we need something else besides taking our blood pressure, we are referred to a specialist who basically knows nothing about us. That person is also determined by our medical insurance company and has to be “in network”. If medications are prescribed, the insurance company tells us when we can have our refill, even when our physician has prescribed it and has already said it is alright. The pharmacy tells us, “You can’t have this medication for a couple more days.” SERIOUSLY? What do we do in the mean time? What if we are going away for the weekend and need mediations we normally take?

I’m not sure I even want to get on the subject of medications themselves. Have you ever read some of the side effects of the newer medications? I don’t doubt that many can be very helpful, but “high risk of causing cancer” or “death” are not on the top of my list of things I really want to handle with a medication that is supposed to help me. Don’t get me wrong here. I do know that some medications have been life savers for me and for others. Yet, there are others that I have to question. These medications were not even around when my family had our family physician. Some of the women in my family lines have lived into their 100’s. (A pretty good track record if you ask me). It does not mean living was always easy, but when would that ever happen?

I sat pondering a medication bottle this morning after reading the possible side effects again. “High risk for causing lymphatic cancer” is a scary thing to ponder. I put the bottle back in my drawer. I’m not sure managing a little inflammation in my body is worth that risk. Especially the death part. We all get there eventually, but I really don’t want to speed up the process. Some of our advances in curing cancer have been remarkable, so please don’t take this as a reason to be fearful of medical treatments or even specialty doctors.

I think my point here is to be wise in choices. It is YOUR body. The insurance companies, the drug companies, and doctors who don’t take the time to know our feelings about them are not the main focus of our own healthcare. In my case, if at all possible, I would rather reach for what holistically helps me and use other drastic measures as a last resort. Medical care is important, especially preventative care. Take care of your body, mind, and spiritual life and the result will be a reward. Be smart about what is good for you and eliminate what is not. If you are not sure, do some research and find out!

A good place to start is meditate for the mind, eat right for the body, connect spiritually to inspire, bring wisdom, and for guidance. When medical issues do arise, and they will, be wise in decisions. Your medical provider is hopefully a well trained physician, but still is not a god and does not have the final say in the decisions regarding your body. Listen carefully to advice and heed it when it is needed. There are many miraculous breakthroughs in many aspects of modern medicine. We have come a long way. Just be wise. Consider very deeply if the benefits of something will outweigh the risks. I know our family physical took somewhat of a risk to help my grandmother that Christmas season she struggled with a heart issue. The benefits extended her life. My hope and prayer is that we find ourselves with more physicians that are like that and less of those who would risk our life span just to provide something for the sake of simply being a provider. “First do no harm.”  (Hippocratic oath)

Loving you from here,

Dr Jenine Marie Howry, PhD

 

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