Our Healthcare – Don’t Take your Doctors Word For It!

nhs failing me/cfsAs I’ve discussed before, with any health concern, whether you are feeling unwell and seeking to find the cause, or dealing with a diagnosed illness, it’s wise to take responsibility for your own body. Putting yourself fully at the mercy of our healthcare system could mean danger.

I don’t want to disqualify a lot of good that’s often provided on the NHS, and I’m sure that on the whole it’s not down to the individuals who work incredibly hard at their jobs. I have some friends that are doctors and nurses and this is true of all of them. However it’s safe to say that our system is not working efficiently as a whole. Frankly, the overall structure, stinks!

Just from a psychological standpoint, the fact that society accepts our relationship with our doctor to be one of a power trip between the wounded one, and the almighty healer, does little for our personal confidence. In fact it sets up a stage for victim-hood and superiority. Yet, surely, when we are the ones with a body that is having something to say, we may know something of importance too. There is no place for joint effort or recognising the whole within our current system. Instead you and I are completely compartmentalised and drugged for ease and to cut costs.

I’ve even been told by numerous doctors that it’s cheaper to tell someone they have a mental health condition, such as anxiety and depression, than it is to pay for further investigations to locate the root cause of many symptoms. I know from experience, especially if you are upset at your health situation, they simply love to stick a psych label on it.

In fact, they can make a lot of money out of things like anti-depressants and statins. Hence the reference ranges for blood tests are actually largely influenced by the pharmaceutical companies and the financial  implications, rather than an actual appropriate figure of what may be seen to be a health abnormality.

Furthermore, because the reference ranges for tests have to somehow equate for a generic set of people. They base most of their figures on a typical Britain, which in their minds, drinks alcohol, smokes and likely doesn’t exercise all that much. This could be a slight generalisation however it’s closer to the truth than we could imagine. An example of this relates to statin medication for cholesterol. Check out this article.

Amitriptyline, which is a drug used quite widely for ME/CFS, for sleep, headaches, and or nerve pain, costs only around 90p for the NHS to order. So if you were to buy this at the current rate of our prescription cost, which is £8.20, you can clearly see there is a good mark up of over £7! The amitriptyline didn’t work for me. Apparently the medication that I had been taking a small amount of throughout my recovery, (Pregabalin), costs over £90 to buy in. They don’t make any money on me. I like to think at least my body likes the classy stuff. However, I’m now pleased to say, I’ve been managing medication free for the last four months. Shamefully, there are more areas at fault than the medication and adequate testing structure.

We all know about an under staffing problem, but there also seems to be a system error in terms of communication as well as a lack of compassion for people. I have been quite shocked by the treatment of family members dealing with cancer and others at end of life stage services. A lot of the service received depends on the standards of your local hospital and doctors surgery. Likely the more populated your area is, the more of a strain there may be on the level of care.

I have kept a record of errors in relation to my treatments and I’m sad to say, that even in terms of simple blood test interpretations, I’ve been wrongly told that my tests were normal on seven ocassions by three different doctors!!!

The safest way to direct your healthcare needs, is to learn very quickly how to interpret your blood tests. There are many areas you can begin to use the system for your advantage, rather than allow it to “take advantage” of you.

Having a broken arm speaks for itself, but having ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia, POTS or any type of syndrome can be a real difficulty to diagnose. One would think that other, more easily symptomised health emergencies would be swift to be dealt with, horrifically this is also not always the truth.

I met one man in A&E, whilst I was periodically visiting with incredibly crippling symptoms, (before I was diagnosed), who had a story to tell.

He was there with a sick baby, but in the past, he had visited A&E a total of six times, complaining of crippling stomach pains. Each time he’d been looked over and discharged. Finally he passed out at home and was rushed to hospital in an ambulance. He had a burst appendix and almost died. Only the sixth doctor to see him had sense enough to find the problem.

You may not want to hear it, but a lot of how our system works is pot luck! I’d much prefer to see things as clearly as they are, because it means I can gain the know how and power to do something about it. It may be advisable for you to take the same attitude so that you can feel empowered as opposed to mistreated and let down. Yet again, we must be wary of black and white thinking, and there have been a few very helpful people I have come across. Sadly, many of these good ones don’t stick around long, they are often either trainees or locums.

Here’s a little list of things you can do to take charge of your health and get the best results:

  1. Check your own blood test results
  2. Research your condition / illness online, with specialists, books, private clinics, groups etc
  3. Compare your symptoms with systems in the body and learn about that system, (I.e nervous system, cardiology system, endocrine system)
  4. Research the medication you are offered
  5. Look at other medications, others with your condition use
  6. Research aternative treatments available on NHS including pain mamagement, physio etc
  7. Be assertive with your doctors,(accept help, don’t give too much away about your method of taking responsibility, but do ask for what you need in terms of referrals, tests etc).
  8. Keep all letters, records and copies of tests
  9. Visit a specialist, if you can afford it. For Me/CFS related treatment: Dr.Nicola Hembry in Bristol, is very helpful.
  10. Use meditation as a way to be present and learn to be with / understand and accept symptoms

Goodluck! 

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