It’s abundantly clear that most families have a love/hate relationship with the medical profession simply by looking at the number of Americans without health insurance, Oh, I know, it’s not that we don’t WANT to have insurance, it’s that it’s so _________ (insert expletive) expensive. And Heaven forbid you should get sick! All those pesky hoops you have to jump through just to see someone who might be able to help convinces us only to put it off, often indefinitely. Who among us has untreated symptoms? I’m willing to bet your insurance (if you’ve got it) would cover your specific treatment… well, to some degree, perhaps 30 percent. But you’ll have to see your doctor first (add co-pay). But you can’t get to that doctor without, of course, navigating the preliminary receptionist, who will forward your inquiry to an on-call nurse, who may, or may not, have ever met the very doctor from whom you hope to seek advice. And who is to say that doctor—should you ever receive your 2.5 minutes of attention–will give the best, nay, the most appropriate advice regarding your condition?
OK, I’m adequately fired up now. For me, I’ve managed to circumnavigate much of this process thanks to my skepticism. Let me clarify: I’m (bluntly) skeptical of Western medicine. (No surprise: I chose to deliver our son at home in a water birth tub, with my huband and two mid-wives in attendance.) Please, I’m not inviting people to write to tell me about their life-saving surgeries or new will to live thanks to a wonderful prescription. I’m happy for you, and I encourage you to make informed decisions about your health. Those decisions are highly personal, and unique to a patient’s particular case. For me, I’m convinced that, for the myriad of common, old-as-the-hills inflictions, there is simply a better way. Probably an old-as-the-hills way.
(I won’t even mention that my health insurance company gave us notice earlier this year that it was increasing our premium by almost DOUBLE, citing the rising costs of healthcare, or that we are required to pay a portion of my son’s pediatrician visits in addition to the premium, nor will I bother to mention that if we were, say, cash-paying patients of our very same ped we would only be charged $75.00 per visit. What I would like to talk about are the medical solutions offered for the (thankfully) minor complaints we’ve had since our son was born last year.)
Let’s see now: he’s had a fever three times, an ear infection, a bout of diarrhea, and currently, a raspy cough with accompanying sinus congestion. Nothing major-league, thank the Lord. While this is a very short list of complaints, the veritable drugstore of pediatric medicine locked in our bathroom cabinet would have you believe otherwise. We love our pediatrician–and the one who has filled in during her absences–and yet, like most parents, I regret to administer any meds to my little guy. I do it–I want him to be comfortable and return to his cheerful good nature as quickly as possible. But I just don’t like it. He’s so pure! His little system is so new!
Today, I called the doctor to follow up on Baby J’s cough, which only seems to be getting worse. At first, she said she would call in antibiotics. Eek, I thought. I don’t even take antibiotics. I rephrased my description of his symptoms and asked her if we could try something else. She then said she’d call in a bronchodilator. She began to list its side effects, and while I couldn’t help but secretly hope drowsiness might be one (our little guy continues to fight his bedtime), side effects, to me, spell trouble. If the drug were truly a good thing, there would be no side effect, right? If it were good, it would merely usher my child back to good health, not cause him to suffer by some other means.
In the end, she instructed me to use a cool-mist humidifier, keep the fever down with infants’ Tylenol and call her if the cough persists. No prescription. I wonder if prescriptions routinely given are not so much for the child’s condition but rather to placate parents desperate just to DO something.
So now I ask you, what is the answer? A quick Google brought up a small handful of naturopathic doctors, and medical doctors with a holistic approach in my area. Do they know something my ped does not? Have you or do you know anyone who has gone this route? Did they throw in the towel with insurance, or does their company cover non-traditional care?