Sunday, February 15, 2015

First, Do No Harm

Grownups get to make their own health related decisions, right? Right. I have a friend, not a close one, but one I've known for close to ten years. She has fallen prey to a dentist who has relieved her of her amalgam fillings as well as probably several thousand dollars that she can ill afford. All this in the quest to "detoxify" her body from heavy metal poisoning due to the small amounts of mercury in those fillings, with expensive chelation therapy to follow. She believes that her neurological and chronic pain issues will end once these treatments are completed. And I'm keeping my mouth shut. Little does she know that she experienced greater exposure to the mercury in those fillings while they were being removed than had she left them intact for her entire life. A very small percentage of dentists either fervently believe neurological disease and chronic pain syndromes arise from amalgam fillings, or they see a segment of population ripe for fleecing and take advantage of it. The thing is, I have been living with chronic, unrelenting pain due to nerve damage for most of the last six years. I understand the lengths people might go to for relief. As a patient who is proactive in her own care, I have researched standard medical treatments such as pharmaceuticals and surgery and take responsibility for my participation in getting well. I ask questions. I call bullshit when necessary. I trust only three of the dozen or so doctors and clinicians who have treated me, because as it has turned out, they have been correct in diagnosing my condition and provided care that has been helpful. As for the rest, they seemed most interested in diagnosing and treating within their bailiwick and generating profits for their employers rather than helping me get better. Only one doctor had the confidence and honestly to say my hand, wrist, and pain issues were beyond his expertise to diagnose and treat and referred me to another doctor. Needless to say, I have a healthy skepticism of the medical/industrial complex that has arisen in this country. No wonder people have gone their own way to find alternative treatments that are holistic in nature or simply off the beaten path of conventional medicine. Some of this is good but some of it takes advantage of patients whose maladies are rare or difficult to diagnose by making unfulfillable promises and prescribing bogus or even dangerous procedures. So. I know this friend would cut me off and never speak to me again should I tell her that her dentist's motives are dubious at best and are designed to generate income for himself rather than mitigate her medical issues. I would prefer for her to undergo no further invasive, pointless, and expensive procedures. Had she asked for my opinion prior to having this done it would have been one thing. After the fact it is quite another. I have no interest in being right and I do wish to maintain contact with her, so for now I am resisting the temptation to provide her with links to enlighten her with the facts. I wish I had a better answer.

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