My first realization that I needed to be cautious in accepting the orders of physicians occurred when I was just out of high school. While cutting grass that summer I hit my big toe with a power lawnmower. The cut went at an upward angle deeply to the bone. The doctor stitched the wound and said the blood circulation had been cut off to the upper part of the toe and the flap of skin might not heal. A skin graft might be needed. He told me to keep the foot elevated most of the time and periodically soak it. After a few weeks of following his orders, the toe was not healing and a graft seemed increasingly likely.
My family was planning a vacation for about a week and I decided I would enjoy the trip without being limited by the toe. Keeping the toe elevated did not seem to be helping and the decision about the graft would be made when I returned. I basically wrapped the toe and ignored it.
When we returned from the vacation, my toe was almost completely healed. It was obvious to me that the toe had benefited from physical activity and the doctor’s orders were detrimental. Later when I worked with doctors they said that there had been significant changes in medical practice to recognize that physical activity was often beneficial for healing.
A few years later I went to a dentist because my gums were bleeding. The dentist told me this was nothing to worry about and would probably go away in several weeks. When the symptoms did not go away I went to a gum specialist who said I now had severe gum disease that would require surgery to remove part of my gums. He also said treatment should have started immediately when I first reported the bleeding.
After these early experiences I became much more skeptical about the recommendations by doctors and had no qualms rejecting advice that was not consistent with my own sense of what was best for me. In my early 40s, I started experiencing abdominal pain. My primary care physician did basic tests and could not find the cause. A specialist did more tests and said one option would be exploratory surgery. That did not seem right to me and was rejected. I tried going to a holistic doctor who did more tests and did not find a physical problem. He suggested that it was psychological and that I take antidepressant medication. That also did not seem right to me and was rejected.
Later I was talking to a urologist about another matter and mentioned my symptoms. He said, “Let me guess. You sit at a desk most of the day and have a long commute to work.” I said yes and he said, “You just need more physical activity. Start walking several times a week and your symptoms will probably go away in a couple of weeks.” His prediction was entirely correct.
If I would have followed the recommendations of the other doctors, I could have had surgery and been on antidepressant medication when I really just needed more exercise.
I have received recommendations by medical professionals that were detrimental to my health many times over the years. Some of these cases were based on standard medical practice at the time and some were inexcusable incompetence.
In recent years I have rejected about 20% to 30% of the recommendations for me by doctors and often seek a second opinion when a doctor recommends an expensive or invasive procedure.
[Version of 3/15/2013]
This website was developed by Jim Kennedy.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2013 James E. Kennedy