After last week's post on why I don't vaccinate, a lot of interesting thoughts and questions came up. I was asked, among other things, if I distrust doctors and if so, why.
Here's the thing: I do approach any doctor (mainstream or alternative) with a certain reserve or wariness, if you will. I don't automatically trust anyone. Having "MD" after your name doesn't make you an amazing expert, in my opinion (nor do any alternative credentials). Respect and trust have to be earned. Since I got so many questions on why I think this way, I thought I'd answer them here.
1) Doctors are human - There are good ones and bad ones. I come to trust some doctors after speaking to them, getting to know them, etc. But I don't just trust someone because they have "MD" after their name. Doctors can make mistakes, they can have their particular causes. One (board-certified pediatrician) we saw thought every child's symptoms were due to food allergies. Many of the patients she saw did have food allergies (and so did her own children), so she'd come to see most symptoms through that lense. It wasn't always the right answer, though: we eventually sought other opinions because she couldn't seem to offer other ideas. And she's actually one of the preferred doctors in my area, who has helped plenty of families. The point is, doctors simply do not always have the answers.
2) Doctors are cavalier about drug use: Doctors are around drugs so much that they have become desensitized to their use, and often downplay the risks involved. When they prescribe a medication 100 times and patients do well, they forget that the 101st person may have a poor reaction. They become overconfident. I know many doctors who don't hesitate to recommend Tylenol, for example, for a variety of circumstances (pre-vaccine, post-vaccine, any time a child has a low fever or any pain, etc.). The message is, Tylenol is very safe with little to no risk. Yet, it's the leading cause of liver failure in this country; it is simply not without risk. But doctors forget to relay this message to their patients, who do not know this. They also don't hesitate to prescribe medication "just in case." Certainly there are doctors who take a much more cautious approach (and I trust these doctors far more), but many are simply too "medication happy."
The same goes for vaccines, by the way. I know many parents who were never even given the package insert before a vaccine was administered (obviously some are given this). They're not told of potential side effects beyond "low fever and pain at the injection site." If they call with concerns about a vaccine reaction, they're dismissed - "That doesn't happen." They're so trained to not think that these things can ever happen that they brush off the risks. But of course, the risks are real and even if they're one in a million…they will happen to someone.
Related: "I drank while pregnant - and I'm not afraid to admit it."
3) If "traditional" medicine fails, doctors don't know what to do: I know three people in my own life, people I am very close to, for whom doctors could not find the answer. I know many, many more through my site. There are excellent doctors who have helped these people find part of the answers, but not all doctors are excellent. In one case, a woman was suffering from such severe hypothyroidism that the doctor felt the solution was simply to remove her thyroid entirely and put her on Synthroid for life. She sought alternative treatment and her thyroid is now healing on its own. In another case, a woman was told her PCOS was so severe she'd never get a period on her own. She sought alternative treatment and within weeks had her period naturally. In yet another, a man suffered chronic pain that specialists, repeated antibiotics, etc. could not figure out or treat. Alternative treatment got rid of the pain. This is why more younger doctors are starting to embrace alternative medicine: they know it can hold part of the solution sometimes for patients. I don't trust any doctor who out-of-hand dismisses all alternative treatments in all cases. It's just arrogant.
To see the rest of this mom's reasons for not trusting doctors, visit Babble.
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Kate Tietje is a stay-at-home mom to two little ones: Daniel (2 in July), and Bekah (3). She spends a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking and creating recipes. Outside the kitchen, she writes at Modern Alternative Mama, where she blogs about parenting, real food, natural health, and other things that come to mind. She's currently in the process of writing her latest cookbook. Now that the weather's finally nicer, Kate spends a lot of time chasing her little ones outside and dreaming of #3, due in early August.