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David P. Kronmiller, Editor-In-Chief
Notes from the Jungle
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Plus guest writers and past staff, including Zach Fehst, Amy Reynolds, Aaron Vaccaro, Jae Day, Sarah Jawaid, Scott Martin, and Bronson Picket.
June 18, 2010, at 6:49 pm — Blogs | Guest Blogs / /

Guest Blogger AMY REYNOLDS: Science AS Religion

I’m not a religious person by nature, despite my Catholic parents’ best efforts. Neither am I a scientist by any stretch of the imagination—unless you consider staying sane amongst insanity a science. I’m just someone who functions in life without using either science or religion as a guide or crutch. My exposure to religion is through others, and my exposure to science is average—everyday gadgets and medical.

The everyday gadgets part is awesome. Medical can be tricky though.

Recently, I’ve had more than the normal amount of medical fun. A few X-rays and prescriptions as a result of a really badly sprained ankle. (It’s really bad. Seriously, I have pictures that even other medical professionals are stunned by. We’re calling it The Epic Sprain.) Going to the Urgent Care to get that checked out got me thinking.

Over the past few years, within my family, there’s been a decent amount of medical needs. One thing I’ve noticed repeatedly is the way “civilians” tend to treat doctors. Over the years, the doctor has somehow been elevated in society to be a kind of god. What they say must be true, because they have said it. Why is it that we’ve thrown our trust to these people on such a level? Especially when it concerns our personal welfare and health. No one is a god—no matter what the level of education.

My mother was having serious back pain issues a few years ago, and went to see some doctors to try and figure it out. One doctor recommended fusing part of her spine. FUSING it. He suggested taking bones that were meant to move with the body and FUSE them solid.

She thought about it. A lot.

I was stunned. Why would you ever do that unless it was last resort? Why, unless you absolutely had to, would you take something that moves, and stop it from moving?

Thankfully, she went to more doctors (maybe partly due to my totally freaking out on her over the phone) and got a different prognosis that had nothing to do with those bones that would have been fused. She’s doing better now, despite discovering she has a chronic condition. If she hadn’t continued seeing Doctors, and had followed that one recommendation, there’s a good chance she would have continued the pain she was in AND had difficulty moving her neck for the rest of her life. How many people out there are in that situation just because of what a doctor told them?

I’m not saying this doctor didn’t have some kind of solid logic behind his suggestion. I’m just saying that because he was in a white coat doesn’t mean all his words are gospel truth.

Especially in this day and age of American health care being a hot mess, why do we put such an insane level of trust in one individual? Why do we assume that what they say is written in stone? Why do we not force them to explain everything until we fully understand it?

When I sprained my ankle last week, the doctor who saw me gave me almost no information about the sprain until I stopped her and forced her to do so. She was content to say “no breaks, keep icing it” and walk away as if the job was done. She’s not the only one either—many people complain about the level of interaction with their doctors these days. Yet, we still have a tendency to take what they say and accept it. We hear their words as if sent down from on high, and blindly follow what we’re told as if it will solve everything, and renew us.

There are lots of insanely good Doctors out there who are whip-smart and kind, and who genuinely want to do right by each and every patient. I have no clue how to make sure that you find those doctors to treat you. I think it takes a lot of work on our part to find them. Doctors are the same as the rest of us: there’s a lot of lesser to sort through to find the best. Their words are as valuable as anyone else’s, for better or worse. No one lives in your skin but you, so if a Doctor says something and it doesn’t feel right to you, there’s no reason to settle on it without doing more research. We don’t have to worship at the Altar of Medicine until we are ready to truly Believe in the Word. Blind belief is the scary kind; true belief—the kind that has been questioned, and tested, and found to be true- now THAT’S worth giving yourself over to.

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