Wednesday, November 20, 2013

LOFT LIFE: The heart of the matter

I’ll start right out with the disclaimer that I do respect doctors, nurses, medical personnel and health care workers of all kinds--if they have the heart to help. When you really need them, they are wonderful.

The problem is, even with good hearts, bad teaching and vested interests sometimes get in the way of people even when they have the intention to help. I guess we all help with a bias, hopefully a bias created from truly believing in something.

Okay, so what am I talking about?

Well, when you are over 60, and deem it necessary to walk into the medical system, you should know they have a bias. It’s medicine. They believe in medicine. They have been taught to believe medicine is the answer. It is a rare doctor, or even nurse (most of my friends have been nurses, and the others are usually in health care of some kind), who can see other options. Of course, chiropractors and naturopathic health people do not believe in medicine. But, the medical people write these people off as quacks and ignorant do-gooders.

So when my very, I say very, very goodhearted ophthalmologist suggested I may be developing glaucoma in my right eye, he proceeded to give me three options for treatment--if it did, indeed turn out to be glaucoma. The three options are: eye drops, which he says would have to be used every day for the rest of my life. I hate the statement: you have to do this every day for the rest of your life. I think to myself, Well, what if God heals me? How will I know if I am lowering my eye-pressure with eye drops? Treatment two is laser surgery, which they say only lasts about three years before having to be repeated. So I figure that would maybe work out if it bought me time for them to perfect and legalize medical marijuana, which would really be my first choice.

NO! I have never used it, not even without inhaling. But it is a natural, plant-based treatment, which seems better to me. But then my doctor told me he wouldn’t prescribe it because using it would entail being “stoned” 24/7 or it wouldn’t work. *sigh.*

Then he added another layer of confusing choices. It seems that having glaucoma in only one eye is extremely rare, and so he thought it would be a good idea if I just had a brain scan, “just to be sure nothing else is going on,” AND a second opinion from a glaucoma specialist.  Also, I seem to have convinced my doctor that when the med books say that in 97% of cases blah, blah, blah, but in a rare 3%, blah blah, I am ALWAYS in the rare 3%. Always have been. So he believes me and thus the second opinion thing.

Well, sorry to make this long story even longer, but then, how are you going to really understand the dilemma unless you have these details, right?

So, I thought, probably I will get the second opinion before I have the brain scan. No sense dabbling around the brain if the specialist says absolutely you do have glaucoma in one eye.

I called her office, and they reacted strangely. They first ask your birthday--before any other questions. So the secretary says, “Oh so you’re on Medicare, right?” “No,” I say. That seemed to throw her even when I told her I would pay cash up front.

“Well, I will have to ask the doctor. I don’t know how she wants to handle this,” she said.

“What’s to handle?” say I. “I am paying cash.”

She seemed very, very irritated at me. 

I received a pre-invoice for $1200, which I am sure raised both my eye pressure and my blood pressure. Oh, did I tell you I have been monitoring my blood pressure and it has been mildly to moderately high some of the time.

So, I stewed about this whole dilemma for a few weeks. In the beginning of October I called my own eye doctor’s office to tell them about my bad reception at the second opinion doctor, and about their invoice, which I have a hard time imagining is the “self-pay” cost for what my own doctor does for half that. My sweet Whitney at Dr. E’s office sympathized and said she would call them to see what was what.

In the meantime, I had read about and ordered Hawthorne tea to see if it would reduce my blood pressure. It did, along with my walking two miles a day and drinking more water. The blood pressure is now completely normal 120/80 when I do all three, which is almost daily. When I don’t do all three--skip the walk, the water or the tea--it goes back to about 140/89, which isn’t probably life-threatening, but I want it lower.

I called Whitney back after a couple of weeks of this treatment and said, “So do you think I will die of my brain tumor or go blind before January?”

She laughed at me. They get me there. No runaround. No huge combat experience because I am not on medicare. She said, “Marjorie I don’t think you have a brain tumor, and I think if the doc thought it was urgent, he would be pushing harder.”

“‘Cause I want to save up my HSA deductible for once, and if I spend $1200 for a second opinion, $1200 for a brain scan, and $1200 for laser surgery (which I was still considering), I will never get this saved up. And,” I told her, I am also seeing my blood pressure back to normal with my Hawthorne tea, and I am thinking, maybe it is also lowering my eye pressure. NOTE: eye pressure is supposed to be 10-20 somethings, and mine is smack in the middle, 14, making my “possible” one-eyed glaucoma what they call “Normal Pressure Glaucoma.”  

Then I was listening to a health station on my Internet radio and the guy was talking about HEMP HEARTS! HMM. I Wondered if hemp hearts could possibly do what marijuana does without the “being stoned 24/7” effect. So I ordered hemp hearts from Amazon with my order of Hawthorne tea.

So I am also thinking that between the hemp hearts (which have only recently become legal in the U.S. because they were so much like pot, they were outlawed) and the tea and the walking and the water, I just may get my eye pressure down to 12 and impress Dr. E. 

Whitney said that would be okay and to call in January or February. (Don’t you all think that from July to November--and then to February--I would have some brain tumor symptoms if that were a problem?) I am asking. Your input is welcome.

Okay, so I am gambling a bit with my life. But, I ask you, if I can bring my blood pressure down 20 to 40 points with tea, why would I take gnarly blood pressure meds with really bad side effects? And, if I can (we will find out) lower my eye pressure with natural, non-stoning plant-based solutions, why would I take eye-drops or have surgery? The only reason I can think of is that we have somehow deified the medical route beyond all reason. 

Yes, it may be a gamble, But so are those medicine side-effects. I would rather gamble on this, and keep thinking health and not disease. Whitney assures me that if these natural methods do, indeed, reduce my pressure the same way eye drops would, Dr. E. will count that. He just wants the best for me, which I really do believe.

What think you?