Getting to a Better Place

Fracture Clinic

I recently visited a health clinic to address a persistent pain. I had vacillated for two weeks trying to decide  my best course of action. I woke up one morning and made the call at 8 am to get a same day appointment. Since the doctor wasn’t taking additional patients that day I was booked with a nurse practitioner.

On walking into the examination room I was asked what the concern was. I explained where I had been feeling pain for over 2 weeks. I told her what preliminary diagnosis I had been given. I further explained the need for some follow up blood work to verify part of my health status.

In all fairness the nurse practitioner asked where I had received the diagnosis. I explained that I had secured the services of an iridologist the day before. I explained how the diagnosis fit with several symptoms that seemed to be part of my health issue.

The discussion that followed clearly indicated that she had minimal if any knowledge about iridology. However, she took it on herself to caution me about the high incidence of medical ‘quackery’ out there. I explained to her that in my dealings with this iridologist over the past number of years I have been very pleased with the accuracy of her observations and the effectiveness of the treatments prescribed. In response to this the nurse practitioner decided to ramp up her statements that this is a very unreliable source of medical information. I was puzzled by her insistence to caution me despite sharing anecdotes concerning the veracity of the information I had received.

Let me digress

In fairness to her concerns there are opposing views about iridology and the reliability of diagnosis and the efficacy of the prescribed treatments.

Iridology (sometimes referred to as iris diagnosis) is based on the bizarre belief that each area of the body is represented by a corresponding area in the iris of the eye (the colored area around the pupil)    

An opposing view is captured in the following statement

Iridology is a quick, accurate and painless system of health analysis through the examination of the colored part of the eye known as the iris.

To continue…

The nurse practitioner asked to examine me rather than rely on the information I had passed on to her. I appreciated her level of diligence to confirm the symptoms that I had reported. On completing the examination she told me there was no evidence. What she did not acknowledge is that she had no baseline with me to determine what the level of swelling I might be experiencing.

In the ensuing discussion, I asked her what would account for the persistent pain. Despite posing the question twice she offered no answer.

In wrapping up the visit she agreed to give a requisition for the blood work as I had shared with her the specific blood tests which the iridologist had requested. The nurse practitioner made it clear to me that she was only giving the requisition for my ‘peace of mind’. Talk about condescension, as if I’m merely a troublesome hypochondriac wasting precious health care resources. Her final comment on the matter was that the blood tests would come back clear.

A few days later, on reviewing the blood test  results the iridologist informed me that only one blood test had been requisitioned. The nurse practitioner had  simply refused to honour my request. Given that the  one blood test came back negative, the iridologist had to assume that the second test would have been positive.

On Reflection

The arrogant posturing during most of the encounter had me reeling. I had come in with what I thought would be helpful information. While I had considered how to share this information in a non-threatening posture, in the end I did not expect the nurse practitioner to put so much emotional energy into discrediting the information I gave her and the source of the information.

What makes this clinic visit even more concerning is that she did absolutely nothing to help address the pain and related symptoms that I had experienced for over two weeks. While she told me, at one point in the visit, that she was not here to debate the pitfalls of alternative medicine, she had in fact made that the main focus during the consultation.

What concerns me is that when a health practitioner fails to keep an open mind and listen to additional information we are all worse off. We lose out when medical professionals seem more intent on protecting their turf than considering new information that might prove to be helpful. In so many other sectors in society we have learned that collaboration helps all parties make better informed decisions.

This rant is not to disparage all western medicine practitioners. A second experience within the same week played itself out in a very different tone. I was in to see my family doctor who wanted to explore a possible health issue having viewed some recent images from my file. In doing his due diligence he went one step further. He asked me whether the iridologist had ‘seen’ anything during my recent visit.

Wow,  what a contrast of attitude within the same clinic. Two things were affirmed in that second consultation visit. One, collaborative efforts makes for better and more reliable decisions. Second, affirming a patient’s efforts at taking an active role in their own health care makes for a healthier patient. Wouldn’t that put each of us in a better place?

When it comes to health care, there is nothing better and more encouraging than a relationship of mutual respect with a family doctor who has not been totally brainwashed into practicing western medicine with procedural rigidity.