Doctors and Science – All Bad?

Yesterday, I shared some of my frustration about doctors. I want to be clear that I don’t think doctors are bad. But I do think we put them on pedestals. We expect them to have answers – not just some answers – all the answers, all the time. This really isn’t fair given the complexity of the human anatomy.

Most doctors have a patient base of about 3,000 people and they see an average of 30 patients per day. That’s 15 minutes per patient – to include charting and prescriptions and notes and all that they do outside of the exam room. They work under billing guidelines which are based off 1 problem. You have a headache, they treat the headache. They don’t necessarily get to a strict diagnosis – the diagnosis might just be “headache”. So when someone like me walks in the door with a list of 30 symptoms, they can’t handle that in one 15 minute appointment – they’re not trained to.

They are trained to rely on science and medical guidelines. The guidelines tell them how to manage known illnesses and specific symptoms. If you have a fever and are complaining of abdominal pain on the right side, doctors know that you likely have appendicitis – and so they will begin to look for that.
But there are no guidelines that tell a doctor what to do with 30 symptoms – so he has to revert to dealing with each symptom individually.

Science is not a bad thing either. Science is simply “knowledge attained through study or practice” (Websters New Collegiate Dictionary). Doctors are able to do what they do because of science. But science doesn’t necessarily tell us everything we need to know. I have heard several doctors say things like “there is no scientific evidence to support that”. They don’t mean it can’t be true, they just can’t include it in their treatment because there isn’t anything in their documented resources to show that it will work. This is frustrating for us patients! But consider it from the doctors point of view – his job is not just to treat your illness, but to treat your illness based on science and guidelines. If he treats your illness on something other than what he knows to be true and you end up worse off for it, he is going to be in a lot of trouble!

So what do you do when doctor after doctor tells you they can’t help you because science and guidelines don’t support treating all 30 of your symptoms simultaneously? You find a doctor who has a different set of scientific data and guidelines with which to work. You find a doctor who is willing to go against mainstream medicine to help you, regardless of the consequences. You find a doctor who is passionate about healing. As one dear friend put it recently, love is the ultimate healer. So you find a doctor who loves his patients.

For me – this doctor is a Lyme Literate Doctor (LLD) who works off a set of guidelines established by an organization called ILADS – International Lyme and Associated Disease Society. Their science comes from years of working with thousands of patients who have contracted lyme or other tickborne illnesses. I don’t know why someone would put their trust of such diseases in doctors who do not regularly diagnose or treat those illnesses. I want the guy that’s been treating lyme patients for 20 years. I want the guy that has specific knowledge of all 30 of my symptoms. I want the guy that says “you present like a lot of my other patients” – which is what my LLD said to me on the first visit.

I have a follow up appointment next Friday and I will keep you posted on test results and next steps. For now – praise God for getting me to the right place, at the right time.

In His Grip

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