The Hippocratic Oath

Written January 12, 2017(edited June 2017)

***Warning!! ***   If your are reading this, you will soon see that I’m not feeling very spiritual today. I fear this will be more of a rant than my usual uplifting or positive messages. This topic has been affecting my life in numerous ways. It has affected my ability to obtain gainful employment, it has disfigured and weakened my body, has been a financial burden, caused me to spend untold hours on the internet, affected my ability to get close to anyone, affected my self esteem and self image. All in all this has caused me a lot of stress in my life. I warn you to read on at your own risk

I will start by saying that I find myself feeling disheartened, disenchanted, disappointed and disillusioned by a group of people and a certain profession that I have gratefully worked in first much of my life and previously respected or admired. Perhaps at least one, if not more, of you reading this have noticed this in your own life.

You see, once upon a time, until about a century or more ago, doctors, especially small town doctors, took care of anything that their patients became ill with. There were few if any specialists. Stub your toe or cut your finger, appendicitis, kidney failure, heart attack or stroke? Dr Doe took care of it. And if he did surgery, Dr Doe did it himself with the help of his nurses who monitored the patient’s vitals AND how much anesthesia the patient got. Today there are specialists for every inch of our bodies. But what if each of your symptoms that you see different doctors for is due to one illness/disease/condition?  

Sometime between college and seeing their first patient, doctors take what’s called the Hippocratic Oath. According to Wikipedia, the Hippocratic Oath says, “I swear to the best of my ability and judgement,… I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability…”  “Primum non nocere” is a Latin phrase that means “first, do no harm.” and it is a phrase we occasionally hear. Even tho it is not part of the Hippocratic oath, at least not word for word. In layman’s terms it means, “given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or even to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good”

With all of that said, I feel like I’ve been dismissed and abandoned by 5 or 6 doctors. I’ve mentioned in the past that I have some health issues. Here’s my story…

I have come to the realization that traditional medicine cares more for the almighty dollar than for its patients. Doctors spend less and less time with their patients and listen to them even less. They and the health care system as a whole seems to view their patients as billable units, aka big fat dollar signs. But what about the patient? “Patient, schmatient. Who cares. I need to move on to the next patient so I can get paid.” Ok that may not be exactly how it goes and perhaps not all of them, but you get my point. Especially since I have not had much luck with doctors lately(this doesn’t apply to nursing and office staff of doctors).

The more I deal with traditional medicine and I learn about alternative or homeopathic medicine the more I want to stop taking all of the medications I take and switch completely to alternative medicine. It’s the medicine our Ancestors used and it worked well for them.

About two years ago I saw my primary care physician regarding what seemed to be a simple problem. It has since grown into something much more involved, maybe even more serious than my mind has manufactured. Perhaps it’s because of a lifestyle adjustment I have made or need to make. Maybe it’s because I need to get rid of medications. Perhaps it’s something more sinister. I don’t know.

Picture this, you’re in the doctor’s office and you filled out the pre-appointment paperwork asking about any signs and symptoms you have currently or have had. Maybe you’re actually talking with the doctor and going over what your ailments are. Then the doctor says, “You need something for this symptom. Here’s a pill.” or “You’re having these side effects from that pill? Here’s another pill to take care of that.” Or maybe you’ve heard something like, “So after you browsed the internet, you think you have this illness/disease? Who’s the doctor – you or me?” Or, heaven forbid the doctor says, “You’re a delusional hypochondriac.” Heaven forbid if you know how you feel better than the doctor.

Conversations like this happen all the time in doctors offices everywhere. Legitimate patient complaints are not heard let alone addressed. Important vital signs, like pulse rate and blood pressure that’s been creeping up over a year or 2 get missed and lab results get overlooked. Even your medical record may be slightly adjusted to cover someone’s screw up.

One thing that can complicate things further is the internet. It is overflowing with information, even misinformation, that can be accessed by anyone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I should know, I’ve been on the internet at various times of the day or night looking on countless sites trying to figure out if I have a common cold, some life debilitating disease or cancer.

My point is a simple message to doctors, despite the fact the body is complex, sometimes the patient knows how their body feels and works. Sometimes the so called hypochondriac isn’t as neurotic as they seem. Plus, sometimes telling a patient they’re delusional or in so many words that they’re crazy when they’re far from it causes even more harm.

Also a message to patients, if you’re anything like me, you know your body and how it works better than almost any healthcare provider. The worst part about it is that you and I are not alone. I’ve come across many, MANY online blogs, forums and groups and people I run into who feel the way I do. Is it any wonder why so many people are turning to holistic medicine more and more?

Over the last couple years my body has gone thru some big changes, a couple of which you would not expect at my young age. Increased and sometimes debilitating pain throughout my body and a rise in my blood pressure. Plus, no matter how much exercise or how active I am I can’t lose weight and on top of it all I can’t breathe even if I walk across the room. Yes I smoke and no I’m not obese. I am a couple(about 20)pounds overweight and I don’t eat as much as one would think nor do I eat junk. I’ve cut back on smoking. My physical pain is not due to inactivity because I’m active and my part time job keeps me more active than my full time job did.

I was insulted by my first dermatologist who said he’d write a prescription of the over the counter salve Aquaphor, that is basically Vaseline. Another told me I had a certain type of acne which was, based on my research, far from what I had. The worst was the one who told me that I was delusional and/or it’s because of anxiety/stress. After an MRI showed results outside of his scope of expertise, a doctor said there was nothing he could do and sent me on my way. The worst one was the one who had me in for a single visit, did no tests at all, and said I had some sort of neuroderm.

Anything I said to these medical professionals didn’t seem to matter. They 1) thought they knew my body better than me, 2) didn’t look me over as a whole person nor did they 3) listen to some of my plausible thoughts. They also didn’t look at my pre appointment paperwork, or if they did they thought I was overreacting because I circled almost everything on the paper. As a woman who’s worked in healthcare and seen a lot of health related “stuff” most of my life, I think I have a bit of knowledge in the field. Was it my insurance other something in my chart that scared away the doctors? I’ll never know for sure.

All the while I continue to feel worse and worse while fighting each day to simply function.

It was only after a fluke situation that caused me to go to our emergency room and insisted having a particular test done. That may finally be opening doors to some answers. That and combing back over my chart to find some anomalies. My continued insistence has led to more tests and more clues but no solid results…yet.

I’ve heard people say that patients need to be proactive about their health. I’ve also been told over the years that the only stupid question is the one I don’t ask and could probably save my life. One way to be proactive is to use a tool that is available right at your fingertips. Many health facilities have your medical information available with a few clicks. Go online to the facilities and access it. Learn about how your body works.

The current model of medicine treats symptoms rather than looking for the underlying cause. This further explains why doctors are quick to prescribe medication that might momentarily ease suffering. As patients, we need to be ever more vigilant with our own health and well being as new and often crazy things happen to our bodies. As it currently stands, I am giving my primary doctor’s provider and a local specialist one more chance before I either leave the state for health care or, due to lack of finances, resign to live like this until I die. In pain, with deformed skin on my face and just all around uncomfortable in my own skin.

*** Please be sure to read more of my posts


Modern Version of Hippocratic Oath

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:…

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism(contention that curing people, or societies, of their ills by treatment is impossible. In medicine, it was connected to the idea that many “cures” do more harm than good, and that one should instead encourage the body to heal itself.)

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

*** Please be sure to read more of my posts


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