Be your own doctor first
The above statement in not from CA Care! It is from Dr. Agus in his book below (pg. 66).
Dr. Agus is no ordinary cancer doctor. He is one of the world’s leading cancer doctors and pioneering biomedical researchers. He is professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and Viterbi School of Engineering. His obtained his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and his M.D. from University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Agus did his medical internship and residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital and his oncology fellowship training at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre. Without any doubt, Dr. Agus credentials are very impressive.
This is what Dr. Agus wrote (quoted from his book above):
- You typically visit your doctor once a year, if that. In this annual exam, he or she takes your vital signs, listens to your heart and lungs, may draw some blood for testing, has you pee in a cup, conducts some surface inspections, addresses any gender-specific tests to check breasts, uterus, testicles, etc., and ask a few easy questions, one of which will be Do you have any specific concerns or complaints?
- If you don’t have any serious issues, you breathe a sigh of relief and go about your merry way until next year or at least until you get sick.
- Your doctor sees you at one specific time during the year. He won’t necessarily know that your blood pressure spikes every afternoon unless you happen to be in the doctor’s exam room when this happens, and he probably won’t know to ask about your multiple trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night or your nagging lower-back pain, which you’ve accepted as a part of aging.
- Medicine is the art of observation and interpretation, which are skills that are not learned in a book. Until medicine becomes more of a science with the advancement of technologies, you have to find someone who practices this art very well. It matters who your doctor is and how you collaborate with him as a team on your health’s playing field. Similarly, there’s an art of knowing when to intervene. You and your doctor must have knowledge to make important decisions when they arise. The goal is to treat appropriately and avoid over-treating.
- Thankfully, modern medicine is moving away from the traditional “doctor knows best” paternalistic mode of medical decision making, in which health-care providers make key decisions for their patients. This type of decision making is slowing giving way to “informed choice” or “shared decision making,” in which you make the final decision based on your goals, values, and tolerance for risk.
- I implore you to ask your doctor, How do you stay current? Ideally, you want someone who stays up-to-date with the latest literature and technology. Asking this question isn’t a threat. If your doctor is good, he/she will take it as a compliment. I find that people are overly worried about angering their doctor, which is a shame. It may be human nature to not want to upset somebody, especially somebody we view as in a position of power, but this is your health we’re talking about. Playing nice won’t result in you being treated better or your disease being diagnosed soon. Much to the contrary, playing too nice and not challenging your doctors when they need to be challenged can leave you in the dust – literally.
- If you cannot tell your doctor anything, find another doctor.
- When working with your doctor on your protocol, view the relationship as a partnership – not a friendship.
- Also don’t entrust your doctor with storing all of your medical information. Request copies of your data and store it in a readily accessible place. Listen to your body and remember only you know your body best. There’s no way your doctor can be inside your body or your head.
The Art of Doing Nothing
- Do nothing – the body works in mysterious ways. Often, it can heal on its own when the given the chance. In a world where we futilely try to force health on ourselves by taking supplemental vitamins and assuming we need pill A or elixir B, we could potentially do ourselves better once in a while if we did nothing at all. Patients often recover from illnesses without a clear medical explanation. Their bodies heal on their own terms, within their own complex magic, and it’s not the doctor that does the saving.
- People can get well for any number of reasons, none of which may be due to any prescribed treatment or “elixir.” Indeed, there is something to be said for doing nothing. Rather than popping pills and looking for external solutions, you could focus on your body’s inherent self-healing mechanisms by regulating it naturally – live in the world of prevention rather than treatment. In doing so, you would honor the body for what it is: a complex, dynamic system that cannot be explained as easily as we’d like it to be.
- Ditch shortcuts to nutrition and health, which can shortcut your life. Unless you are correcting a legitimate deficiency or addressing a condition such as pregnancy, then you likely don’t need to be taking multivitamins and other supplements.
- As Plato once said, “The part can never be well unless the whole is well.” The end of illness resides within all of us. It’s up to each of us to do what we can to put an end to it.
One of the most important messages of Dr. Agus book is:
- There is no “right” answer in health decisions; rather, there are several right answers. You have to make the right decisions for you – based on your personal code of values and health circumstances.
Dr. Agus has spelt out in very clear terms what patient’s empowerment is all about. For the past sixteen years, CA Care has set out to do the same task – but we have an uphill task because people say we are not medical doctors. They would only believe their doctors. Now, Dr. Agus has said it all!
Over the years, many other doctors have also been singing the same tune to impart to us this all-important message of patient’s empowerment.
The following are Dr. Mendelsohn’s advice to you and me:
- I don’t advise anyone who has no symptoms to go to the doctor for a physical examination. For those with symptoms, it is not such a good idea, either. Unless of course it is an emergency like accidents, etc.
Dr. Mendelsohn reminded us that, If you are foolish enough to make yearly visit for a routine check-up, to be aware of the following:
- Beware that you may be used for purposes other than your own. You may be subjected or asked to undergo certain procedures for the doctor’s own good.
- Be reminded that doctors are unable to recognize wellness. They are trained to treat diseases and most likely he will always find something wrong with you.
- As long as the doctor is in control, he can define and manipulate the limits of health and diseases anyway he chooses. Of course, not all are that dishonest. But the worse scenario is when he has vested interest in something or procedure. Dr. Mendelsohn said: beware of the doctor’s self-interest.
- Doctors almost always get more reward and recognition for intervening than not intervening. A good analogy to this advice is: ask a barber what to do with your hair. Invariable you will get your hair snipped off for one reason or another. If there is not much chance to snip anything off, then you may end with a different coloured hair.
- If you are given drugs to take, ask questions and study the side effects of the drugs. For example, if you are given pills for high blood pressure. Take note that there are numerous documented side effects related to the drug – from rashes, muscle cramps to loss of sex drive in both men and women. Dr. Mendelsohn wrote: I wonder just how much of the middle aged population suffers from impotence, not from any psychological cause but simply from their blood pressure medication. Again, Dr. Mendelsohn asked: what kind of person will take that drug after reading the information?
Unfortunately, many of us feel helpless. We are frightened to death. We fear after being told that something has gone extremely wrong with us. In haste, we just don’t think long or far enough. We swallow anything that is given to us. For this reason drug companies sell thousands of tons of pills each month just to pacify those instilled fears – real or perceived. We do not have the slightest inkling of what these chemicals are going to do to us.
6) Dr. Mendelsohn gave an amazing advice, If you are sick … your first defense is to have more information about your problem … You’ve got to learn about your disease and that’s not very hard. You can get the same books the doctor studied from. Read them. It is most likely that after reading you will be more informed than the doctor himself.
In this respect, I urge you to read more than one book. Go into the net and you will be amazed as to how much information you can get – all for free.
Let me also ask you to consider this. How long do you get to talk to your doctor when you see him/her? Is it one minute, five minutes or half an hour? I got only a minute for my skin problem and I was shown to the door after that. The doctor did not answer any of my questions. Do you think, within that time span the doctor knows what is going on with you? Indeed, the best defense is not to abdicate the responsibility of your health to someone else. Your well being is your responsibility.
See related article: Book Review: The End Of Illness by Dr David Agus, M.D. http://cancercaremalaysia.com/2012/06/09/book-review-ehe-end-of-illness-by-dr-david-agus-m-d/