Healing the Healers

Document Sample
Healing the Healers Powered By Docstoc
					                            Healing the Healers
                                        By Nathalie Fiset

I do not plan in any way to criticize the medical profession, as I am very proud to be a family
physician. I just want to point out some ways that we can do a better job at helping people heal
and take care of their health.

First and foremost, we have to realize that doctors are humans too. This may sound simple but it
plays a big role in our flaws and sometimes inability to help our patients to our best knowledge. I
know many doctors who are frankly obese and battling their yin and yang to get to their ideal

I know some doctors who hide in their car in the parking lot in the middle of winter to smoke a
cigarette. I confess to my own numerous weaknesses and never lecture my patients, as I too do
not always eat well although I am on a pathway to better health.

I was attending a seminar and the speaker was talking about the patients making their own health
decision and choosing their treatment and I did not agree with that. After all, doctors do have a
complete background in human physiology and anatomy and their training is among the longest
and most serious ones.

I experience the danger of people making their own decisions by just going on the internet and
reading some misinformation almost everyday in my practice. I often see my patients walk into
my office with panic in their eyes. I ask them in a smile if they went on the internet and what
they read. I then have to re-inform them and explain that they stressed themselves for nothing, as
the situation is not what they thought it was.

It is true that medical science is an ever-changing truth. Since I started practicing medicine
twenty years ago, much of the knowledge we held for true has changed or even been proven false
and that is a good thing. If medicine held a very tight position and said that all that we knew 100
years ago is still true we would still be using leaches!

The ideal healthcare model will be one where doctors will help people understand that
prevention is their best option.

Unfortunately, as physicians, we are bombarded with messages from the pharmaceutical
companies trying to make a buck (or billions of them) pushing their drugs. When I go to medical
conventions I am often despaired by the time spent discussing pill options for problems that
could either be prevented or avoided by a healthy lifestyle. Such problems could be high blood
pressure, type II diabetes and obesity. These problems are all linked and often caused by the so-
called metabolic syndrome, which is nothing more than obesity and lack of exercise.

I think that medical doctors should and always will be at the entrance of the health care system.
After all, the curriculum of a physician is very wide. We should also recognize our flaws and
lacks. During our medical training the hours we spent learning about nutrition could be counted
on the fingers of our two hands. This is the reason a nutritionist or a nutrition specialist is better
equipped to help people understand and apply the best nutrition choices.

As doctors we are very well trained to diagnose chronic pain. We often can precisely say that a
person’s chronic back pain comes from a pinched disk between the L4 and L5 lumbar vertebras.
The problem arises when we are faced with helping this person relieve her pain. We either offer
potent drugs that can have side effects and do not remove the cause or we offer surgery that also
carries its risks.

What if, in an ideal world, the doctor was able to diagnose the back pain problem and then refer
to the other specialists who have the ability to fix the physical problem? As doctors we should be
able to call in help from all the other caregivers who have been trained for years, sometimes, in
removing the cause of the pain, instead of offering potent drugs that only address the symptoms
and can in the long run harm the patient more with its side-effects.

We unfortunately live in a society, which is very fast paced and wants a quick fix to all its
problems. Such solutions as having a liposuction instead of eating right and exercising regularly,
when you think of it, is near insanity.

I have often heard of people saying that gastric bypass was their last resort but I question that
reasoning. So many obese people at one point experienced that bliss moment when they got
habited by the certainty that they would lose their excess weight and get in good health and they

I have a patient (let’s call her Katie) whom I considered also to be a friend, who consulted me
because she had trouble getting pregnant. I saw her after her second miscarriage and gave her
health advice and did some blood tests which all came back normal. A year went by before I saw
her again. She walked into my office with a big smile on her face and asked me if I noticed
anything. To my shame I must admit that I could not figure out what she had changed. I ventured
a timid: “Did you cut your hair?”

She answered, a little upset: “I lost 110 pounds!” She had a gastric bypass and lost all the weight.
Although I congratulated her on the weight loss, I was worried from all the studies I had read
about gastric bypass’s side effects. After all, there is major mal absorption of the digestive
system caused by such a bypass.

A couple of weeks later one of my other patients, who is also a friend of Katie, came into my
office. She asked me: “Did you hear about Katie?” and I answered, “No, did she have another
miscarriage?” My patient answered, ”No. She is dead!” The news hit me like a giant rock. After
all, she was only 37 years old, my age at the time.

Apparently she was suffering from pneumonia and had a cardiac arrest in the scan machine and
they could not bring her back. You do not die of pneumonia at the age of 37.

This shows that her body did not react well to being cheated by the gastric bypass.
I went on the Medline website and researched the side effects of gastric bypass and my mind was
blown by all the potential hazards and proven health problems caused by this procedure. So if
anyone tells me that gastric bypass is their only solution I will always fight for the other more
natural options in the name of Katie.

As physicians we play a crucial role in what our patients choose as treatments and we should be
very careful about what options we offer them. Most pills, if not all, are only aimed at treating
the symptoms, do not remove the cause and have potential side effects. The medical community
needs to be exposed more to complementary medicine and know what it has to offer.

It is true that some complementary medicines are crossing the line between proven efficient
treatment and wishful thinking. The task of traditional medicine in the very near future will be as
a gateway to these complementary treatments, sorting out the good from the non-proven.

We have to get on board and realize that more than three quarters of our patients are using
complementary medicine even if they do not tell us. We should accept this fact and move on to
understanding what complementary medicine offers, and play our important role in guiding
patients in their choices when we have used all our resources.

Some people might get upset that I place the medical doctor at the center of all the treatments but
we have to face the fact that medical training is a thorough one and should be recognized as
such. I also think that medical doctors are best placed to diagnose problems and diseases. This
being said, we also have to recognize when we need to use complementary medicine, such as
when all traditional treatments have resulted in a standstill.

Let us not forget that the human body has the natural ability to heal itself. Voltaire said it best
when he said: “The purpose of the doctor is to entertain the patient while the disease takes its

Most people trust and believe in their doctor and that plays a major role in the patient’s recovery
and well being. This fact might be the reason why so many people want to call themselves doctor
even though they do not hold a medical license.

I was attending a very important hypnosis seminar a couple of years ago and many people called
themselves doctor. Most, if not all, were not MDs. When people asked me what kind of doctor I
was, I did not get that most “doctors” at this convention were not MDs and I answered: “a kind
and caring doctor!” Until I met someone who called himself doctor and then during our
conversation told me he was the muffler doctor.

In seeking complementary treatment a client should not be told that the caregiver is a doctor if he
does not hold a medical license. This can be confusing and even misleading to the patient, thus
compromising the bond of trust.

As a doctor I have often seen that patients can be stressed by just entering our office and need to
be reassured. For example, there has been an interesting study in a delivery room. Some
researchers studied the rate of caesareans, complications or natural childbirths according to
which nurse followed the patient in labor. They were very surprised to realize that some nurse’s
patients had a very low complication rate while others, followed by another nurse, often ran into
complications and interventions such as caesareans. It is understandable that at such a vulnerable
time during labor, a woman will rely on the support she is getting and her outcome will reflect
such a choice.

I admit being guilty of my share of negative programming towards my patients. Fortunately, my
certification as a hypnotherapist and my studies in NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) has
helped me realize some of the mistakes I was making. I now pay more attention to the non-verbal
language of my patients and watch more carefully what and how I say things.

For example, I had a patient who asked for a pain killer during her labor. After explaining the
effects and side effects of the medication, she chose to take it. Just before injecting the
medication the nurse mentioned that in general, the effects last between thirty to sixty minutes.
Right after she received the medication my patient went floating on a peaceful cloud. After a
while her well-intentioned sister asked me, ”How long did the nurse say the medication would
last?” Sure enough my patient opened her eyes in panic, like a deer in the headlights. I looked at
her sister and answered calmly, “The medication will last until the baby is born.” My patient
closed her eyes and instantly went back into her very calm place. And you know what? The
medication did last until the baby was born way more than an hour later.

Nathalie Fiset, M.D., C.H. has been a family doctor in Montreal, Canada since 1990. She started
with a broad family practice and then narrowed it down to the follow-up of pregnancies and
attending births. She completed her initial hypnotherapy certification in 2004.;