- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Doctors Are Not God, Don't Trust Them Too Much
Some people rely too much on their doctors and fail to acknowledge their own intuition or listen to their own body. On the other hand, there are others who do just the exact opposite. Who then is right and who then is wrong?
Obviously, the answer must lie somewhere between, albeit clearly skewed in favor of doctors. The purpose of this article is to show you a few examples of when believing in your doctors too much can sometimes be fatal.
Example 1: Gestational diabetes
Doctors are not God. They are human like all of us and they can make careless mistakes, too. In other words, they are not infallible. I had a colleague whose cousin sister was suffering from gestational diabetes. As she was extra careful, she opted to be treated by a specialist hospital some 93 km from her home. One day, she went to a clinic doctor as she was feeling ill. The clinic doctor told her that she had hyperglycemia (high bood sugar) and prescribed her diabetic pills. She insisted on an insulin jab, as this was the routine treatment that her specialist doctor had been giving her for diabetes. Despite her pleading, the clinic doctor refused to give her an insulin jab, insisting that the pills were more than adequate. As her blood sugar was high, the doctor also insisted that she consumed the pills immediately in the clinic itself. Not satisfied with the doctor's treatment and after feeling better, she decided to go to her usual specialist hospital the same day. This time, the doctor at the specialist hospital gave her an insulin jab. When she returned home, she went to bed to rest and died of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Example 2: High blood sugar due to eating durians
In another case, a diabetic neighbor ate durian and suffered from hyperglycemia. She was on a daily regimen of one tablet twice a day but this was insufficient to offset her excess blood sugar as a result of durian consumption. Feeling sickly, she went to see a doctor and the doctor told her to increase her daily consumption to 3 tablets twice a day. Two days later, she fell into a coma, while watching television. She was unconscious for almost a week before she recovered.
In both cases, we could have just as easily blamed the two patients for failing to tell the doctor what they had done but unlike the first case, where the patient had a secondary school education, the second case was that of an uneducated old granny who relied 100% on the doctors.
Example 3: Colostomy
More dramatic was the case of a high school girl whom the doctor had suggested colostomy, a surgical procedure to redirect her feces to a plastic bag attached to her waist on a permanent basis. Her mother refused the operation and sought alternative treatment. As luck would have it, she found a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor who prescribed Chinese herbs. After her daughter drank the concoction for two consecutive days, she was miraculously cured. Just imagine what havoc the colostomy could have wreaked on the young girl's future.
Example 4: Tuberculosis
My brother-in-law was diagnosed with third-stage lung cancer and was asked to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy immediately. Fortunately, my other sister advised him to go to Singapore to get a second opinion. The Singapore doctor also initially thought that it was third-stage lung cancer but said he could only confirm the preliminary diagnosis, after doing a biopsy. And the result? Tuberculosis!!! He underwent 6 months of treatment and is now completely healed. Just guess what would have happened if he had listened to the first doctor and went for a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy instead?
Example 5: High blood pressure
Me, I am also a diabetic. Sometime in 2000, I was diagnosed with high-blood pressure, after I felt a tightness at the back of my neck. For one week, the doctor monitored my blood pressure every evening, after work. The reading was consistently between 140-150. After a week, the doctor confirmed that I had high blood pressure and wanted to prescribe me medicine. I asked if I could stop taking the medicine after a month and he said "No, once you start the treatment, you have to take the medicine for life". I refused to take the medicine and decided to try meditation instead, as I had heard that some people were doing. And presto! After a week or so of meditation, the tightness at the back of my neck disappeared. I went to another doctor to check my blood pressure and the results were normal!
You may argue that I was not having high-blood pressure but what if I had listened to the doctor? It's 13 years since, and I would have been taking pills till today, apart from moving around, believing that I am suffering from high-blood pressure! (My blood pressure was around 110+/70+ for many years since then, but has recently gone up slightly to around 120/80.)
I have a few more examples but I trust the above is more than sufficient to convince you that you should not trust your doctor 100%. Always seek a second opinion, if the treatment is going to affect your life drastically, e.g. a major surgery. Also, always seek alternative treatment, if time is not critical and you can delay drastic treatment by a few months. (Obviously if you don't have the luxury of time, you will have to take immediate action as per your doctor's advice.)
Hippocratic Oath or Hypocritical Oath?
Do you know that there is presently no legal obligation for medical students to swear the Hippocratic Oath, upon graduating? The Hippocratic Oath is an oath that was historically taken by physicians and other healthcare professionals as a promise to practice medicine honestly. Wikipedia says:
"... 98% of American medical students swear some form of oath, while only 50% of British medical students do..... However, the vast majority of oaths or declarations sworn have been heavily modified and modernized."
If the above has not convinced you yet, let me give you a final example. As I had mentioned earlier, I am diabetic. One day, I went to my regular clinic doctor and he asked me which doctor was supervising my diabetic condition. I said that I do self-management. To this, he got angry and asked me: "If everyone starts doing self-management, what do we doctors eat?"