HAWMC 2013 – Couldn’t Do It


I certainly was attempting to challenge myself with this “write a post each day for 30 days” thing. I simply don’t have time. We bought a house in February, are selling our current house, I work full time, my senior in high school is… well, a senior in high school. Busy, busy times!

My illusions of grandeur about becoming some glorious blogger have faded. Thank goodness. I’ll just continue with my life and perhaps when I do have time and have something to say, I’ll make a post.

By the way, it’s been three years now since I was diagnosed and not one relapse. I haven’t seen a doctor, any doctor, in the past three years. There’s a lot I could be doing better, but I’m hanging in there and making it.

So long HAWMC 2013, maybe next time.

HAWMC 2013 – Day 10: Favorite Photo of Self


HAWMC 2013 - Day 10: Favorite Photo of Self

As part of WEGO Health’s third Health Activist’s Writer’s Month Challenge, I am challenging myself to write 30 posts in 30 days using prompts provided for the event. Wish me luck, or join me!

HAWMC 2013 – Day 8: The Demyelinators are Langoliers


When I think of what’s happened to my body, resulting in a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, I think of tiny little creatures gnawing away at the myelin sheath that protects the nerves in my brain.

Something like these guys.

langoliers_hungry

Omnomnom… eating all that tasty myelin.

the_langoliers_1

Behold: The Demyelinator

Great miniseries by the way.

As part of WEGO Health’s third Health Activist’s Writer’s Month Challenge, I am challenging myself to write 30 posts in 30 days using prompts provided for the event. Wish me luck, or join me!

 

HAWMC 2013 – Day 7: Doctor Does Not Know Best


Doctor knows best.

I believed this in my younger years.  Now, it’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard about health—doctor’s do not always know what’s best. Oh, and when I say doctor I mean physicians, not surgeons who do know how best to perform surgical procedures. I am also making very deep generalizations here.

The danger in assuming your doctor knows what’s best for you is that you may not receive proper care or you may receive care you don’t need. Why? Why in the world would a doctor do that to you? Well, unfortunately, in the current environment of our healthcare system, some doctors do not serve the interests of their patients but rather the lining of their pockets or practice. There are two primary reasons for this, and to help explain I found a few articles, with links to them in the footnotes.

1. Fee-For Service

The habit of assuming the doctor knows best has created a system where huge numbers of patients aren’t getting the treatment they would have chosen if they were fully informed.

… doctors and institutions get paid based on some form of fee-for-service, meaning they take in more money when they do more procedures. 1

This article from The Atlantic also says they are rewarded for “doing more, rather than doing good.”

I also came across an example of someone’s Mom who had a minor procedure performed on her toe. It took about an hour and a local anesthetic was used. The bill Medicare paid was more than $13,000.

… the fee-for-service model provides powerful incentives to pad bills or even commit fraud. 2

2. Kickbacks

… in the pharmaceutical industry… aggressively promoting drugs to doctors for uses not officially approved — including inducing other doctors to praise the drugs to colleagues at meetings — has quickly turned numerous drugs from mediocre sellers into blockbusters, with more than $1 billion in annual sales. 3

Doctors sometimes ask for sponsorship to go to international meetings, which they argue they need to attend to keep up with developments in their field. Their hospitals cannot afford to pay their flights and hotel bills, they say. 4

In my opinion, this practice is a severe conflict of interest and does nothing to ensure patients are receiving the best care possible. I suspected the treatment options the neurologist presented me, a binder for one of three different drugs (three binders in total), may have had something to do with this. He was not at all interested in discussing alternative treatments.

Looking up information on kickbacks led me to a brief chat OPB had with the reporters behind ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs tool. So I looked him up on Dollars for Docs and it shows that he does accept money for meals from different companies. While most of the dollar amounts are less than $30, one company (Allergan) paid him between $250 and $1,000; once in 2010 and another in 2011. Those are some pretty expensive meals! Allergan is the maker of BOTOX®(onabotulinumtoxinA). According to their website, it can be used to treat urinary incontinence and upper limb spasticity associated with neurological conditions, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Say what? It seems to me that Allergan is trying to make their product serve a myriad of purposes in order to get the most $$ out of it. Botox for MS?

Oh, well looky here:

American pharmaceutical manufacturer Allergan Inc. has agreed to plead guilty and pay $600 million to resolve its criminal and civil liability arising from the company’s unlawful promotion of its biological product, Botox® Therapeutic, for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Justice Department announced today.  The resolution includes a criminal fine and forfeiture totaling $375 million and a civil settlement with the federal government and the states of $225 million. 5

And from WebMD:

Despite the fact that the drugs are used for a variety of medical problems, the FDA, as of this date, has not yet approved the use of these treatments for MS-related spasticity. 6

I don’t know if the neurologist that diagnosed me was involved in this at all, but it is an interesting coincidence. He certainly did not recommend Botox as one of the three drug modifying therapies I could choose, but I do know many with MS take other drugs to treat the multitude of symptoms they experience and Botox may have helped many MSers with incontinence and spasticity.

So, yeah, patients can’t trust doctors to know what is best for them. Unless of course you are blessed to have a doctor who does not use fee-for-service for billing and is not listed on Dollars for Docs. I hope to one day find such a mythical creature.

I should probably start looking.

As part of WEGO Health’s third Health Activist’s Writer’s Month Challenge, I am challenging myself to write 30 posts in 30 days using prompts provided for the event. Wish me luck, or join me!

—–

1. The Cost of Assuming Doctors Know Best, The Atlantic – September 28, 2012
2. Is Fee-for-Service What Ails America’s Health Care System, dailyfinance.com – January 18, 2010
3. Drug giant Glaxo pleads guilty, fined $3B for drug marketing, USA Today – July 2, 2012
4. Drug companies pay doctors £40m for travel and expenses, The Guardian – April 5, 2013
5. Allergan Agrees to Plead Guilty and Pay $600 Million to Resolve Allegations of Off-Label Promotion of Botox®, Department of Justice – September 1, 2010
6. Treating MS With Botulinum Toxin, WebMD – May 23, 2012 (date last reviewed)

HAWMC 2013 – Day 6: Dear Multiple Sclerosis


Forty-five minutes left in Day 6; this will be a short one!

Dear Multiple Sclerosis,

Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to make changes in my lifestyle to improve my health. I was not taking care of my body and you alerted me to the fact that I was harming it. You may very well have prevented my body from experiencing future illnesses, such as cancer or heart disease. I am so happy to learn about nutrition, the human body and brain, and the immune system. My only regret is that you did not come along sooner so I could have more time teaching my children about proper nutrition before they left the nest. I can only hope they learned something they can draw from in their future years. While you have been a blessing in disguise for me, I do not wish for my children to know you or your cousins.

I also want to thank you for instilling in me an awareness of others with health problems. I now can appreciate the fact that John Doe slowing me down on the sidewalk may be moving slowly because he could be living with you too. Before I met you, I could not have known what it might be like for him. If John isn’t living with you, one of your cousins might have moved in and become a part of his life. I have shared this awareness with my children and hope they too can be patient with those who may be slowing them down.

The life lessons I have learned as a result of having met you are priceless.

Thank you,

Alahnna

As part of WEGO Health’s third Health Activist’s Writer’s Month Challenge, I am challenging myself to write 30 posts in 30 days using prompts provided for the event. Wish me luck, or join me!

HAWMC 2013 – Day 5: Overhaul Medical School Curriculum


If I could do anything as a health activist, I would change the curriculum offered in medical schools to provide students with the following foundation:

Nutrition

  • The study of what we eat and how it affects our bodies should not be relegated to an area of study or a required single-term class; it should be the foundation upon which everything else is learned. It makes absolute zero sense for a patient to receive care and treatment from one specialist for one problem and another specialist for another problem when addressing the patient’s food allergies and/or sensitivities will solve both problems. No. Sense. Whatsoever. Human bodies are intricate organic machines with many parts reliant on one another. In addition, all the different parts are wholly reliant on a single source for sustenance and maintenance: food.

Bodies Are Unique

  • The principal that every single person’s body is unique and some patients may know more about their body than their primary care physician should permeate across everything medical students learn. Treatments that work for some people do not work for others. As I have spent the past three years researching natural ways to manage Multiple Sclerosis, I learned that there is not one single nutrition plan that works for everyone with MS. Some do great eating gluten, and some don’t. Some do great eating red meat, and some don’t. Doctors need to work with their patients and trust that the patient may know more about their body. Which leads me to…

Collaboration

  • This is a must for the doctor and patient relationship to be successful. It is also a must for doctors specializing in different fields to collaborate with each other to best help improve a patient’s health. The modern-day à la carte system does not benefit the patient and can prolong or worsen their condition.

An education built on nutrition, the principal that each patient’s body is unique and should be treated as such, and that teaches doctors to collaborate with one another and their patients would really go a long way toward overhauling our medical system. I strongly believe improving our medical system has to start with formal education.

Patients are educating themselves using the vast resource that is the Internet. In our virtual communities, regardless the illness or disease, we collaborate with each other and learn that our bodies are unique and how they may be affected by nutrition. Perhaps it isn’t until enough doctors become patients that the curriculum taught in non-alternative medical schools will be overhauled.

Disclaimer: Having never been a medical student, I most certainly don’t know the intricate details of the curriculum currently offered to students at non-alternative medical schools. I know a good amount of people working in the health industry—hospital owners, nurses, doctors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, patients, etc.—and feel as though I have a generic enough understanding of the education provided at these schools to propose an overhaul. What I think I know could be incorrect and I welcome any dialog that may clarify my understanding.

As part of WEGO Health’s third Health Activist’s Writer’s Month Challenge, I am challenging myself to write 30 posts in 30 days using prompts provided for the event. Wish me luck, or join me!

HAWMC 2013 – Day 4: Sharing Resources for Natural Treatment


Today, I added a Resources page that includes links to the articles, blogs, books, and communities I have relied on over the past three years. Not all the links are about natural treatment, but were helpful to me in one way or another and the advice and information in some contradict with one another. Much like using pharmaceuticals as a disease modifying therapy, where some people try many different drugs until they find the one(s) that work for them, treating your condition with nutrition and lifestyle will also be custom tailored to you, your body, and way of living.

Spend time reading and watching everything you can and start making changes that make sense for you. If you know you are lactose intolerant, cut dairy completely out of your diet. If you really don’t enjoy running for exercise, stop running and start moving in a way you enjoy. Etc., etc., etc. Soon enough your treatment plan will begin to take shape and you will start feeling better.

Please share any additional resources for natural treatment that have been helpful for you. I don’t have much time for Internet research these days and would love to learn about what else is available.

As part of WEGO Health’s third Health Activist’s Writer’s Month Challenge, I am challenging myself to write 30 posts in 30 days using prompts provided for the event. Wish me luck, or join me!