I’m ticked off. Pissed actually. I don’t like rants and I am not a fan of drama but, for the love of Pete, could we maybe tone down the homeopathic aggression maybe a notch or ten?
Yeah, I’m biased on this one. It’s probably because I spent about a year dying while nurses and doctors worked to keep me alive long enough to save my life. I don’t buy the money-grubbing conspiracy theories that medicine only exists to make money.
What set me off? Today, for the third time this week, I saw a Facebook cartoon claiming that we do not have healthcare in the United States. Its claim is that we have a “disease management system” designed to keep the money flowing. The implication is that medicine is a corrupt field filled with people who are not truly interested in cures because curing people would put them out of business.
I happen to have someone who I share more than DNA with who has a PhD in Pharmacology research and is now pursuing his MD. He’s a great guy, a giving guy. He gave me about 60% of his liver to save my life. He’d give you the proverbial shirt off his back.
How can I convince you that money has not been his motivation for these 12+ bonus years of school? There are much shorter paths to money than the path he is taking. Is he a rarity? An exception to the rule among all the filthy, money-grubbing, immoral hoards going into pharmacy and medicine? No. I know that he is not.
I’ve seen too many nurses, with tears in their eyes, caring for me when I was in so much pain. I’ve seen a kidney doc jump into my liver case when abnormal things were happening and petition to get me into a test group for a new drug that was showing promise. He fought my health insurance company to step up and do what it was paid to do. His extra interest, extra efforts and involvement got me back on the transplant list and ultimately saved my life. He didn’t make any additional money by going the extra mile to save my life.
Do you really believe that homeopathic companies are not after your money with their claims that a mixture of organic llama spit, Bermuda grass seed and natural honey will solve your irritable bowel? Seriously? They spend next to no money on true testing, do not have to gain FDA approval and can rush their marketing campaign to press while claiming that it is medicine and “big pharma” that is stealing from you. So many people believe their pitch. I stand amazed.
Why not just let people believe what they want to believe and do what they want to do? That’s generally fine with me, except when the homeopathic industry aggressively undermines and maligns science and medicine that is saving lives. I’ve seen people in my support groups take large doses of vitamin E and do “liver cleanses” hoping to reverse their liver conditions. Instead they have done real damage or at dangerously masked their true condition by altering their test results with supplements.
I’ve seen people waiting for transplant, unable to pay their bills and drowning in debt while living on disability, pay close to $100 for a “high-grade” essential oil to rub on the bottom of their feet hoping to relieve their leg cramps. I’ve watched them spend their very-limited funds on $80 juice drinks.
Modern snake oil salesmen are pushing everything from magnets to copper to supplements to oils preying on a population that is desperate for solutions. They target the chronically ill, the elderly, the obese and even parents desperate to help their children in school.
“Health products are an especially fertile area for scams in part because most people can’t tell whether a product is really helping, experts say.” Consumer Reports
It makes me angry. I used to weigh 316 pounds. Every year my doctor would urge me to change my lifestyle, exercise, eat right and lose weight. He would tell me my increased odds of heart disease, clogged arteries, diabetes and hypertension. And then, he would prescribe meds to treat the self-abuse that I was doling out. I’d leave his office and swing through McDonald’s on my way home to grab the Two Big Macs for Two Bucks special. That darn doctor only wanted to take my money and hurt my self-esteem, right?
I heard the frustration in a doctor’s voice when he told me he was prescribing a machine to force air into my lungs to keep my airway open at night so I would not stroke out from Sleep Apnea. When I objected to sleeping with a mask on my face and asked for an alternative he said, “Well, you could lose an enormous amount of weight but we know that isn’t going to happen.” Darn doctor just wanted my money, right? He just wanted to sell another Sleep Apnea CPAP machine, right? He didn’t want to cure me! Guess what. When I finally started exercising, eating fewer calories and lost 105 pounds, my sleep APNEA, hypertension, IBS and even asthma faded. He was right.
I’m sorry, but I am frustrated. I know my docs were frustrated by my lifestyle. I know all they could do was prescribe things to try to combat the damage of my lifestyle choices. Every January I endured the bombardment of weight loss advertising. I even tried a couple. Snake oil.
Can we please back off on undermining medical advances in support of taping raw onion to our toes? Can we back off on the promises of exorbitantly priced drinks and oils that will relieve my asthma, arthritis, hemorrhoids and headaches all at once while simultaneously turning me into a passionate sex machine and boosting my memory?
Or, at least, can we stop advancing our homeopathic, miracle aids by systematically convincing the vulnerable that their doctors want to keep them sick just to take their money?
I recently had an online friend try to convince me to stop my anti-rejection medications in favor of a mix of homeopathic products and supplements. He sent me reports of the toxic chemicals I am ingesting and the “damage” they are doing. And then, as a “friend who cares for me,” he offered me a “big discount” on all the products he recommended. Yes, lucky for me, he happens to be a distributor!
My anti-rejection medicines are indeed expensive. Yes, they have troublesome side effects. But, what you also need to know is that my team has been seeing me every six months and carefully reducing my dose as my body adjusts to my new liver. I started on 8 milligrams a day and now, three and a half years later, I am down to 2 milligrams daily. That means I am now taking 2,190 fewer pills a year. If his goal is to make as much money as he can by keeping me in the drug line, my doc is doing a lousy job at it.
Go ahead and have your home party. Sell everyone that magnetic bracelet that brought you balance and energy. Line your friends up and sell them calming smells with candles and oils. Hand out little foot maps showing where to dot one concoction or another. Take their credit card numbers for that awesome anti-oxidant drink, herbal supplement or hemp necklace. But please, I beg you, don’t try to convince them that their doctors are just using them for their money. Don’t contribute to them discontinuing their medicines. Don’t be negligent. Please sell your wares without demonizing medicine and the medical professionals who choose their careers hoping to help people.
I am alive today because of medicine and healthcare professionals. I know a ton of other people who can say the same thing. They are cancer survivors, transplant recipients, heart attack survivors and people who had little chance of survival just 10-20 years ago.