Friday Nov 21 2008
I got a rude awakening today while visiting my family doctor. As I was being guided to the examination room, the medical assistant handed me a brochure explaining that the clinic I go to was now going to offer extended healthcare ‘packages’ to their ‘clients’. The brochure outlined numerous different options to access ‘enhanced’ healthcare services and diagnostics, all for varying annual fees depending upon the complexity and estimated amount of ‘contact’ I could have with medical professionals. What bothered me more than this evidence of the two-tiered nature of the Canadian universal healthcare system was that none of the programs they offered included access to alternative or complementary healthcare. Unfortunately, conventional medicine doesn’t always treat all of our illnesses or alleviate all of our suffering. Unconventional approaches and treatments have their place in a well-rounded, healthy healthcare system.
Decisions about my health and well-being are the most important choices I have had to make in the past few years. Fortunately, I have a close network of trusted friends who help me see possibilities that I am blind to…and who remind me to stay with my inquiry into “Who am I?” in relationship to my body, mind and spirit. My experience these past few months has been that when you’re dealing with a situation in which it is difficult to diagnose (let alone treat) symptoms, it’s worth stepping ‘outside the box’. Some types of alternative therapies used in conjunction with conventional medicine can alleviate pain and support our natural healing process. However, I’ve also realized it’s wise to be well informed before we choose.
We are still making advances in understanding the nature of the ‘human being’. Some untested, unapproved ‘cures’ may be helpful and safe; however, some may be ineffective or harmful. Before believing promises that a new-to-me treatment works, I’ve been asking my doctor and an alternative healthcare practitioner I trust (and whose treatments and approach have helped me immensely) if it could interfere with other medications and treatments I’m getting. I’ve also been researching any studies or articles that exist on its efficacy, reading about its history and possible complications, and looking into the credentials of the providers who offer it.
For anyone considering complementary and alternative approaches, visit:
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine 1-888-644-6226
If you’re interested in getting involved in federally and privately supported clinical trials, visit:
FDA Office of Special Health Issues 1-800-216-7331
And if you’re dealing with cancer, visit:
National Cancer Institute 1-800-422-6237
American Cancer Society 1-800-227-2345