I recently re-watched the film Patch Adams starring Robin Williams. Patch Adams speaks passionately about medicine and health care. Some of his beliefs include:
- doctors should do more than treat a disease. Doctors should connect with the patient.
- doctors shouldn’t just be trying to prolong death, but should be attempting to improve a patient’s quality of life.
- laughter should also be a part of a patient’s treatment.
I’m thinking of these ideas because they contradict the way most doctors interact with me. On this medical journey of mine, I have encountered numerous doctors. Most don’t use my name when speaking to me. Because I’ve been sent from one “specialist” to another, most are not familiar with my history - the doctors I’ve already seen, the tests I’ve already undergone.
As my levels of frustration and hopelessness are rapidly increasing, I have turned to an alternative treatment plan. In addition to my counter-full of pills, I have begun acupuncture treatments. Me, the girl who does not watch when blood is drawn, is voluntarily having needles placed in various parts of my body, all in the hopes that something will work, somehow my body will get some relief, and I will feel like myself again.
It’s too soon to tell if the acupuncture is working. But my acupuncturist has the right idea. Before we begin, she talks to me. Sits down, looks me in the eyes, and talks to me. Asks me about my health, my eating, my sleeping, my family, my job. She asks about all the parts of me because they do all influence my physical health and well-being.
On my second visit, my acupuncturist asked me about my optimism level, with 10 being highest. She asked if I was at a 10? a 5? a 3? I had never thought of the situation in those terms, but I was honest and told her I was probably a 3. The longer I suffer in pain, the longer I go without feeling any real relief, the more dejected and forlorn I become. And I’m sure Patch Adams would say that those feelings aren’t helping my health.
So, how do I fix it? How do I do something about my attitude?
I don’t know. I just know I’m not giving up. I have a son. A now four-year-old son. That’s all the motivation I need to keep at it, to keep searching for answers. And, as an added bonus, my son always knows how to make me laugh. And it’s been said, laughter is the best medicine.