Disappointed with the Medical System? You Need to Read This.

May 19, 2015

I have wasted an unbelievable amount of time in useless visits to doctors and specialists over the years (mostly when I was younger. I don't go to regular doctors that often anymore.). I’ve also made poor choices in agreeing to go ahead with their recommendations which either didn’t help at all or helped one health issue but caused other issues.

I’ve dealt with apathetic doctors and specialists, many of whom seemed more interested in getting me to leave as soon as possible because we were getting close to the 7-minute maximum allowed appointment time and they had a full waiting room of patients.

"Sometimes this is as good as things get."

Doctors don't like it when you don't respond well to their treatment. It baffles them. They just seem to kind of...give up. I've experienced this again and again and also seen this happen with family members too.

On a follow-up visit with a surgeon, he removed the bandages on my wrist where he had removed a ganglion cyst six weeks previously. My wrist looked horrible. Swollen, black and blue and well...um...pretty damn nasty. At the 6-week mark, I was supposed to have full mobility but in my case, I could hardly move my wrist.

What did this surgeon do? Instead of gently testing the range of motion of my tender wrist, he quickly and abruptly pushed down on my wrist as far as the wrist would go, even though my wrist clearly looked like it belonged to an apocalyptic zombie.

It was incredibly painful and I let him know that. He didn't seem that interested or concerned. He couldn't even be bothered to say a quick "sorry".

Unprofessional and uncaring.

Where was basic human empathy in this interaction? Absolutely vacant. This was a surgeon who had a very good reputation in my city, apparently. I'd hate to see what the attitude of an average-rated surgeon would be.

The surgeon had originally told me this was a minor surgery and low-risk. A year later, I went back to the same surgeon to say I was still having daily pain and restricted mobility in my wrist because of this "low-risk" and "minimally-invasive" surgery. His response? "Sometimes this is as good as things get."

In other words, I was just supposed to live with it. No other solutions were offered. None, whatsoever.  He did not seem to care. After all, he gets paid per patient visit, not for results. At least, that's the system in Canada.

Did that surgeon record the poor results of the surgery that he performed on my wrist? Did those statistics get sent anywhere so that they could have in-field data about the effectiveness and real-world results of these "low-risk" surgeries? I doubt it. And how many other surgery patients has this happened to?

Where is the care in healthcare?

What’s my beef with the medical system? I’ve had numerous diagnostic tests done regarding a chronic heart issue that was making me feel sick, nauseous and physically weak. After many months of testing and visits, doctors and specialists didn't offer a treatment plan and I was told that I would have to live with my irregular heart. I was only 20 when they told me that.

I’ve taken medications that caused difficult side effects. Sometimes, I wasn’t even sure if the medications improved anything or whether my body just healed on its own.

I will say this right now: I am very wary of prescription medication, especially long-term usage. Repeat after me: Medication is NOT medicine.

Do not blindly accept everything a doctor tells you. Many of them are simply too quick to whip off a prescription or recommend a dangerous medical intervention.

My experience with the western medical system is that if you don't respond to the recommended treatment after 3-4 visits or recommendations, they give up on you.

Medication is not medicine

When there's big money involved, you can forget about objectivity. Your health and well-being are not the concern of profit-seeking pharmaceutical mega-corporations. Do not trust them or their marketing. Their main concern is making money. They are happy to have you as a life-long customer. The unhealthier we are, the better. That means more revenue for them.

Is your doctor thinking about you once you've left their office? No way! They write a prescription and their job is done. There's often no followup visit required and you definitely won't be getting a phone call from your doctor to see how you're making out with the medication. Arrivederci and good luck!

They have too many patients to properly follow up with all of them weekly. Plus, it just isn't common practice. Why not? Shouldn't there be closer follow-up with patients who take anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication? To make sure that...umm...they don't kill themselves? That seems kind of important to me.

You are test rat #3542

How is the medical system following up on side effects of all these meds? Where is the live, real-world testing being done with actual patients, not just in a lab setting?

I know where the testing is being done...On us!

You are the guinea pig. And unfortunately, there's no monitoring and recording being done on live patients who use their drugs. Why do I say that? I've taken medications before, experienced side effects and they've never been recorded by a medical clinic.

There's an utter lack of concern regarding the side effects of drugs and once you start taking a drug, how do we know what you're experiencing is a symptom or a side effect? They can't accurately test for this.

Doctors who prescribe medications should be recording patients’ side effects and reporting this back to the government agencies that regulate the approval of these pharmaceuticals. Who’s documenting what happens to all of these people on medication?

Everyone just shrugs it off…Yes, well…all drugs have some side effects, but they’ve already done testing in their labs and it’s been approved. That means it’s safe, right?

Look at all the harmful or unhealthy substances that government agencies allow on supermarket shelves. Alchohol. Cigarettes. Marshmallows. Spam. Fruit Loops and other high-sugar cereals that turn your milk pink. Pop tarts. Yes, even pop tarts make my list of toxic substances. Sorry, I know you like them. But they're probably slowly killing you.

Those are just the extreme and obvious examples of things being sold that are extremely bad for you, even in small or infrequent doses. All of these products are allowed on supermarket shelves. Is your government really looking out for you? Do they even have a clue what health and nutrition is? Nah, I don’t think so.

We need to be very, very careful about most prescription drugs that we take. Start educating yourself and using your inherent intelligence and intuition on your health issues, and dealing with the western medical system.

As with many professions, information that is currently taught as true or as a best practice is often found decades later to be not true, not the best medical practice or even foolishly dangerous.

What medical practices are happening now that people will consider absolutely ridiculous 50 years from now? Ummm….How about the over-reliance on powerful medications with unknown long-term side effects?

Everything I've written above is why we need to consider other solutions and alternative healthcare, in addition to carefully navigating the western medical system. Medications and surgery are sometimes needed and I'm sure there are also some great western doctors out there, but I just don't have any good examples in my personal experience, unfortunately. Adequate doctors, sure. Get-the-job-done doctors, ok. But not caring, personal, effective and solution-oriented doctors. Haven't met any yet. I do have a good friend who is going to pursue medical studies and I'm sure she's going to easily stand out as being an amazing doctor.

Take medical care into your own hands

Be preventative.
Once your health has been compromised due to years of unhealthy and damaging practices, it can be hard to get healthy again. Start now and keep up those good health habits. It's a continual education process and requires will-power.

Eat well.
Eat natural, whole foods. Food that is in it’s natural state, unaltered. If you shop in the outside aisles of the supermarket, you’ll be fine. Avoid the aisles. Avoid "food" in packages. Remember: The food industry wants to make you addicted to their products.

Buy organic, if you can. It tastes better and has more vitamins and minerals. If not, then locally-grown produce is also a good option.

Your exercise routine doesn’t have to be difficult, especially in the beginning. Start with a light form of exercise every day. This should also include a stretching routine. 80 years ago, you would have been working your ass off all day, all week, doing physical work. You can definitely handle 20 minutes of exercise 3-4 days a week.

Follow mental health best practices.
Retrain your mind to view things positively. Experiment with meditation. Let things go. Cultivate true patience. Choose to spend more time with positive people.

Do your own medical research.
If you’ve been diagnosed with something, read up on it. Question whether the diagnosis is correct. Get a second opinion. When your doctor recommends a prescription, read up on it. Get all the information. You need to protect yourself because your doctor doesn’t have time to explain the details of these prescriptions in those 7 minutes (and they’re usually unconcerned about side effects anyway. After all, the drug has been approved for public use.).

Ask your doctors good questions.
Don't let them try to get rid of you until they've answered ALL of your health concerns. Bring a notepad and pen to make notes when you visit your doctor.

Question the need for prescription drugs and surgery.
If your doctor recommends drugs or surgery, ask if there are other options. Ask what the risks are if you don’t use drugs or surgery. Get a second opinion from another doctor.

Stop relying on your doctors for a quick fix.
Instead, consider natural health solutions. If you’re sick or have chronic illness, the very first thing you need to look at is your diet. Food is medicine. Also, don’t immediately run to your doctor for minor things.

Complementary and Alternative Health Care Works

I went to a naturopathic doctor a few years ago for a few health issues. The first consultation lasted an entire hour. I had never had a doctor's visit that long and in-depth before. He asked me good questions, listened and took notes the entire time. He actually seemed interested in my health situation and in finding solutions.

I was blown away. Totally surprised at this detailed level of patient care. And he could prescribe medications, if needed, as well as order diagnostics, just like regular doctors, although he preferred to prescribe medications only if absolutely necessary.

In Canada, it costs $72/month for medical care and that includes free visits to general practice doctors. I would rather pay $140 for an in-depth consultation with a naturopathic doctor who carefully uses the western medical system and is solution-oriented than go to my family doctor.

Does your doctor understand food nutrition? I’ve never had a doctor talk to me about food or ask me about my diet.

Does your doctor look healthy? If not, then are they in a position to advise you on how to improve your health? I wouldn’t take swimming lessons from someone who can’t swim well and I wouldn’t work with a business coach who’s only experience is one failed business.

I would highly recommend looking into alternative forms of medicine, especially for chronic health issues that your family doctor isn't offering any viable solution for.

By the way, after following my naturopathic doctor’s diet recommendations, I no longer had heart palpitations or a fast heart-rate. My energy was the best it’s been in decades. I didn’t need naps anymore. I didn’t need to sleep as many hours. I woke up feeling clear, alert and my concentration had improved considerably. My mood improved significantly. My wrist pain mostly disappeared and I was able to play guitar again without pain.

Despite numerous disappointing experiences with western medicine, it still can be very effective at helping with some health issues. It’s helpful to know what western doctors are good at and what they’re not good at. Emergency procedures and temporary life-saving medication? Yes. Diagnostics? Sure.

But...I would be very wary of "low-risk" surgeries and "safe" medication. They prescribe medication as though it were as harmless as Flintstone vitamins. After all, it's not their body, right? They don't have to live with the consequences of their treatment.

Take Charge of Your Health

Take your health into your own hands. Start right now. Be careful when agreeing to take medication. Consider visiting a naturopathic doctor or Chinese medical doctor. Do your own research on your health issues and medications. Don’t blindly accept anything that any doctors tell you. Consider their diagnosis and recommendation, but sometimes they just can't offer you the best or safest health solutions.

What's been your experience in dealing with the medical system? Share your story in the comment section below.

If you enjoyed this article, share it on social media. Maybe it'll help someone you know take the right steps to get healthy again or help them re-think their approach to their health issue.

About the Author

I'm Nigel, accountability coach and creator of Holding Your Feet to the Fire. I offer online accountability coaching to help my clients reach their goals faster and support them every step of the way. Check out the Online Coaching page to find out how this accountability system will help you reach your business, career, financial, health and personal goals.

6 comments on “Disappointed with the Medical System? You Need to Read This.”

  1. Hey Nigel,

    You've asked some really insightful questions here. I work in mental health and am amazed by the number of medications prescribed for the side effects of other medication! There seems to be absolutely no accountability as you have suggested. It's scary...I mean how many of us look at the situation of people going through troubles with their health and think: "Poor bugger! he/she doesn't even have good care here. I hope I can avoid that."

    You seem to have done a lot of work to understand what's happening there and how to work with it and and more skillful approaches.


    1. Hi Matt,

      Thanks for checking out the article and for your insights. Interesting to hear that that's happening. Drugs to help people handle their drugs. Wow...I'm stunned by this...

      On a related note, I worked with a few nurses and they told me that polypharmacy has become a real issue. Polypharmacy is the use of several medications at the same time. Drug companies are not able to test how all the various combinations of drugs interact with each other and how they will affect the patient. Scary stuff, indeed.

      Let food be our medicine!

  2. Hi Nigel,
    I read your article and I can't be more in agreement of what you said. I have been diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer (bone and lymph nodes metastasis) I've been following the treatment (chemotherapy in pills) and they have a horrible side effects on me. I have mentioned to the doctor but she brushed me off telling me that they will go away, but they're still persisting and getting worse.
    Last disappointment was to ask this dr. for short term disability to be able to do a treatment that will help with the side effects and she refused to giving that to me. This is not taking anything away from her, but she did not approved it.
    She is closing the door on me for something that could help me and I feel so sad and depress at this moment that it's hard for me to keep positive attitude.
    I am looking for other doctor that can approve my STD which my company is willing to approve ( I live 50 miles from work and I have a 3 years old son)
    I drive 100 miles a day with my son and this chemotherapy gives me insomnia which makes me very difficult to be alert when driving.
    Do you have any advice you can give me? - I have no advocate in all this.
    I'm single mom with no family in US.

    1. Hi Luciana,

      Really sorry you've been dealing with cancer and strong side effects from the treatment. I'm sure it's been very stressful. I can't give you any medical advice since I'm not qualified to do that. I just don't want to steer you in the wrong direction so I want to be cautious about any recommendations that I give you. However, I can make a few suggestions to help support your health and healing, as well as your ability to stay in a more positive mindset which will help you make the best decisions for your healthcare.

      The first suggestion is to make sure your diet is really, really healthy. Be obsessive and fairly strict about it. Eat food in it's natural state, avoid most packaged food. Avoid obvious junk food. I believe there's a strong link between our modern diets, disease and immune systems. Keep reading and learning about diets and foods that boost your immune system.

      To help you stay more positive and optimistic about your health, I recommend doing a short (2-3 minutes) "gratitude session" every morning. "What's working well in my life?" "What do I love or enjoy doing?" "What is one thing I'm grateful for?" (can be even something small or minor). Spending time to stay positive can reduce stress which will allow your body to heal and come back into balance.

      For helping you make health decisions and life decisions, write your thoughts, stresses, problems, and potential decisions down on paper. Doing short writing sessions can be really helpful to "unload" thoughts/emotions/problems onto paper so that you can clearly see them and make good decisions.

      I hope that you overcome cancer very soon, that you feel better soon and that you find the best healthcare treatment that works for you. Take care and let me know how you're doing. You can email me privately through my contact form if you prefer that. : )

  3. When I read this, it’s like a repeat of what I am going through with the Canadian health care system. I used to be an athlete, I was in really good health. I have a bad wrist injury (work accident) going on 2 years. 4 opinions later I’m finally getting help. I have countless reports stating it’s as good as it’s going to get, that it is chronic, that I need to live with it. But recently I found out I just had no chance of healing because of the late diagnosis and the wrong treatment was prescribed and all that “rehab” made it worse. The first doctors told me to stop complaining at first it was apparently all in my head, then they had the wrong diagnosis, then dismissed a warning on an xray among other things )then of course they prescribed medication that turned one problem into others, the first specialist said there was nothing to do, the second one as well, then asked for another opinion and the referral got lost...the third said that I fell through the cracks and sent me to the doctor that is planning to operate because he is more qualified. That doctor seemed to be in disbelief he wanted proof of what I was saying. I am drained I feel like I am in a fight against this system. I was asked by this new doctor to trust him and to not give up yet but I’ll be honest I don’t think I can trust again.

  4. 27yrs on placebos.... benefits......not able to get work.....lonely....confused...........now.....they say there’s nothing wrong with me.

    No money, no friends, no job, no family.....I am severely disappointed, angry and depressed. It’s a wasted life. The guilty walk free.

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Nigel Cook

Originally from Vancouver Island, Canada
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