Sick patients keep doctors in business

When I watched the movie Sicko last year, I wasn’t completely surprised. Some people felt I was naive with my passionate feelings about the movie. But what they didn’t seem to understand was that I had my own experiences as a patient in a wide variety of clinics with a wide variety of doctors. I had experienced times without health insurance and I had experienced times with health insurance. During the moments in my life that I did have health insurance, I made sure to go to the doctor. People with autoimmune diseases often suffer from a variety of illnesses throughout their life. I have been one of those people, but at the same time, I’ve never ignored my health. If I felt something was wrong, I wanted it fixed. Because of these experiences, I had my own perspective on what I thought about the health care system as a whole. In “Following the Script: How Drug Reps Make Friends and Influence Doctors“, the Sales Representative stated,

It’s my job to figure out what a physician’s price is. For some it’s dinner at the finest restaurants, for others it’s enough convincing data to let them prescribe confidently and for others it’s my attention and friendship…but at the most basic level, everything is for sale and everything is an exchange.”

I too had seen Sales Representatives in action for pharmaceutical medications. They wined and dined doctors and gave demonstrations. I think this made me question how doctors got their information on the medications they prescribed. It made me realize in those youthful years of mine, that illness was a money making industry.

Before I started taking alternative medications, I took the normal plethora of drugs handed to Rheumatoid Arthritis patients. As each one was prescribed to me, I’d go home and read with horror the possibilities of side effects. The belief that doctors would never prescribe something dangerous is simply not true. Reading that cancer, death, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis, etc., as a side effect of these drugs, were extremely rare, was never enough comfort for me. I felt that with so many “rare” possibilities, the possibility of me getting some illness as a result of these very toxic medications were all too possible. I was already suffering from very “rare” diseases of my own, so it didn’t seem all that crazy. I could tell the next day after taking the drug, methotrexate, that I had taken one of the most toxic chemicals around. Maybe I was sensitive, like a canary in a coal mine, but on the other hand, it felt worse than any hang over I had ever experienced. Followed by extreme fatigue, recovery from methotrexate took three days and my hair was a constant reminder that I was “sick”. It’s no wonder that for two years I kept looking for an alternative medication, thinking, there just has to be something better.

In all this technology, with all of this knowledge….why was I able to find a solution to a debilitating disease without the debilitating side effects like Hodgkin’s Lymphoma? I can’t help but wonder why supplements like Fish Oil, Ginger, Bromelain, Quercetrin and Turmeric aren’t prescribed. Why are some of the most toxic medications out there prescribed as first options? If it’s true that our immune system is 80% in our gut, then why would we be prescribed medications that damage our intestines? Wouldn’t then, damaging our intestines cause more diseases? And then the medications from those diseases cause more side effects which cause other diseases……and the cycle continues.

Sicko‘s portrayal of Great Britain’s health care system had me feeling troubled about our own health care system. The doctors in Great Britain got bonuses if they could get their patients healthy and coming into the office left often. Wouldn’t that be nice? Patients were told to exercise, eat healthy and quit smoking.

Another thought that furthers my belief in Sicko is how our economy is doing during this economic downturn. “Although many industries have been affected by the economy, Beyond.com’s report indicated some industries still are experiencing growth despite the economic recession.  …….Research has shown the recession may even be an underlying cause of job growth in the health care industry due to increased stress, depression and mental illness. The aging population, increased obesity rate and technology advancements also are causing significant growth in the health care industry.” It worries me that it’s possible that sick people make the health care system more money than healthy people do. I don’t think that doctors are trying to make us sick, but with pharmaceutical companies making billions of dollars, I can’t help but wonder if they’re just your typical drug pusher on the corner of the street, only wearing much, much better clothing….well maybe.


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