Friday, February 22, 2008

My Wacked Out Views on Modern Medicine

Disclaimer: these are just my opinions, NOT medical advice, nor am I criticizing other points of view.

Okay, with that out of the way, let me tell you about the last week and a half in my house. My generally healthy family has been struggling with a flu/cold package that has kept me very busy and even tempted me to call the doctor. But I don't, and why? Because I am not a doctor-caller. Except in extreme situations, such as pregnancy (yes, that IS extreme for me) or life-threatening illness, I am not a medical-system-utilizer.

My kids get their well-child visits, usually, but we are freakishly healthy. I believe we may be freakishly healthy because of our lack of medical system utilization. I believe that the greatest miracle in modern medicine is how very well we do without it. Consider the following facts:

1. Healthy children do not die from the flu. When they DO, as they commonly did a hundred years ago, they actually died from fever and accompanying dehydration, which is now treated by Tylenol or Motrin and, um, water.

2. I know when my kids are sick, thank you. I do not need a doctor to say, "Yep, it's a flu. Keep them hydrated and call if the fever doesn't break." The fact that so many people want medicine to be a reassurance and not a last resort is what has driven up insurance rates to their current atrocious levels. I prefer to skip Step A and just call the doctor if the fever doesn't break.

3. Doctor's offices are filthy, germy places. Your child WILL get a secondary infection if you go. You would be exposing them to less bacteria if you let them lick the bathroom floor at a truck stop.

4. Medicine isn't the panacea it claims to be, at least not for healthy, normal children. Antibiotics will not help a child with a flu or cold, unless they picked up a secondary infection at your doctor's office. Even then, a healthy immune system works at about the same rate. There are flu medicines, but they don't help unless you take the child in at the first symptom. And if you take them in everytime they sniffle, you are going to have huge problems because you will spend your life in the doctor's office wallowing in those bacteria-laden burlap chairs and your kid's immune system will be as robust as Nicole Ritchie.

5. People, and viruses, build up a resistance to medication. Everytime you medicate, you allow your child's immune system to get lazier. You might as well buy it an X-Box. And every time you medicate, those germs mutate just a little. If influenza were not a highly adaptive organism, it would have gone the way of polio long ago. That is, it would have been eradicated by vaccination and aggressive treatment.

So, no, we haven't been to the doctor, nor do I foresee a visit in the near future. I know someone whose kids went to the doctor at the first sign and were given Tamiflu. Their illness seems to be following roughly the same curve as ours and lingering just as long.

My youngest three children have never been on antibiotics or anti-viral medication. Amazing, huh? The youngest two have never even had cough syrup. My oldest, on the other hand, received "the best in medical care" because I was an insecure young mother who believed his doctor grandmother that he needed this constant intervention. He was a sickly child with asthma, allergies, recurring flus, and a skin condition that required visits with a pediatric dermatological specialist... UNTIL I had his younger sister and no longer had time to deal with it. Then he miraculously recovered.

I still have done my time in doctor's office, for routine check-ups and broken bones and mysterious rashes that freak me out because I have no idea what that could be. I'm not saying to NEVER see a doctor, just to use your head. You don't need seven years of college to know a runny nose when you see it.


Lisa Russell said...

We don't do medicine either. Same, miraculous results. We must be freakishly healthy, too. AND- get this- we don't do Tylenol for fevers. we let them run their course. It's part of natural defenses; the heat makes an environment not conducive to growing germs. Keep them home, in bed, and let it run its course. We haven't gotten any flu in our house this year. M1 had something last week- a 2 day fever and sleepiness. But that's it. There haven't been any antibiotics in our family for 13 years. And we're all still alive.

Emily the Great and Terrible said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one. People get a little freaked out. Someone asked me about Rachael's cough and what the doctor said, and I said the doctor WOULD say it's a cold if I asked him, which is why I'm not paying to ask him. Yeah, I think the best way to stay healthy is to avoid medical personnel.

Jessica said...

I was raised this way by, get this, a pediatric nurse for a mom. You're not weird, you're actually using a very reliable and scientific way of thinking.