Homeopathy or Bust

I have immune dysfunction which results in intolerance to medication, therefore, I have treated with alternatives to standard American medicine.  I have used light to treat seasonal affective disorder; air to treat sleep apnea, liquids to treat kidney disease, diet to treat celiac disease and diabetes mellitus, exercise to treat everything and, for the tough stuff, chiropractic, acupuncture and hypnotherapy.

Chiropractic removed the numbness in my left arm and the pain in my chest.  I had such severe arthritis in my neck that I had to have people stand in front of me to talk.  Now, I have full range of motion.  Hypnotherapy was used to stop excessive menopausal bleeding and as the anesthetic for a root canal.  Acupuncture has cured tendonitis and pneumonia, among other things.

The diabetes mellitus was fully controlled by diet but aging and other illnesses have brought it to the point where my glucose levels are running around four or five hundred, so I’m in the hospital and Dr. Edwards, Family Medicine, is sitting in the dark green chair at the foot of my bed talking about homeopathy.  All I know about homeopathy is that you use very little of a drug to get the same response as using a lot of the drug.  How’s that possible?

Ten or fifteen years ago, when Dr. Ghaly first realized that drugs were causing extensive side effects in me, he prescribed an antidepressant in liquid form and directed me to take two drops with 32 drops of water.  A brief trial was abandoned, whether because of ineffectiveness or side effects, I don’t remember.  Dr. Wechsler, chiropractor and ayurvedic practitioner, says that using two drops, compared to classic homeopathy, was like using a sledge hammer.  He likens homeopathy to an aspirin in a swimming pool full of water.

Dr. Tucker, also of Family Medicine, notes that in Great Britain homeopathy and other alternatives to pharmaceuticals are paid for by the National Health Service because the royal family uses them.  Prince Charles has been going to a homeopathic practitioner for years, and the Queen and Prince Philip are in their 80’s and still walking.  In the U.S., Medicare will not pay for any alternatives to drugs.  Maybe I should reach out to Michelle Obama and get our First Family to role-model drug alternatives.  (Hey, we already had one First Lady who led us in “Say no to drugs!”)

The proposed fiscal year 2013 budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is $31 billion.  Of that, NIH’s proposed budget for complementary and alternative medicine is $443 million.  That is 1.4 percent of the total budget.

Let me repeat that:  The proposed fiscal year 2013 budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is $31 billion.  Of that, NIH’s proposed budget for complementary and alternative medicine is $443 million.  That is 1.4 percent of the total budget.  Congress votes the NIH budget; the pharmaceutical industry spends about $100 million a year on campaign contributions and has two lobbyists for every congress-person.

There are no current figures on how many Americans are using alternatives to drugs but, extrapolating from the known, I estimate it at 42%.  Americans are moving away from drugs but their government is not:  42% of Americans use alternatives but the NIH is only spending 1.4% of their budget to study them—imagine if they spent 42% of the budget on alternatives! 

I have used nine of the twenty-one complementary and alternative medicines recognized by NIH:  acupuncture, ayurvedic, chiropractic, deep breathing, diet, energy healing, hypnosis, massage and yoga.  Now my doctors are talking to me about homeopathic.  Dr. Edwards tells me about a doctor in Boston—the mecca of American medicine—who consulted with the biggest bestest medical researcher who advised him in designing a controlled research study to see if homeopathic remedies work.

The result was that they do.  So the doctor did two more really, really serious studies, which also showed that homeopathy works.  Then he wrote it up in The Lancet, possibly the most prestigious medical journal in the world.  His final conclusion was that either you have to believe that controlled research studies do not work or that homeopathic remedies do.

Dr. Edwards seems not to care very much about the how or why of homeopathy but to rely on the studies that say yes.  Likewise, he may not understand the how or why of the internal combustion engine, nevertheless, he drives a car—because it works.

So Dr. Wechsler goes to Canada to visit his fiancé, Sunita Mohan, who is a homeopathic doctor.  They call me and Sunita asks two questions, one of which I forget and the other of which is “How do you handle anger?”  Homeopathy is different.  Medicine is a science; homeopathy is an art.  I have no idea what anger has to do with treatment but I am trying to take it on trust.  One of the features of a homeopathic remedy is that the patient is not to know what is in it; you don’t look up the ingredients on the Internet.  You take it on faith that it will not hurt you.

For a quarter of a century, I took doctors on faith that the drugs they prescribed would help me and would not hurt me.  The result is chronic renal failure, immune dysfunction, chronic fatigue syndrome, cardiac damage, cataracts and so on and so on.  Since 2001, my mantra has been “An informed patient is a healthy patient” and I advise everyone to read the manufacturer’s insert for every drug they take.

And now, am I to leap into the abyss—immune dysfunction, hypersensitivity and drug reactions—and take this remedy?  I ask Dr. Wechsler what’s in it and he says, “It could be anything—animal, vegetable or mineral.”  But through a lengthy process it is diluted and reduced, diluted and reduced, diluted and reduced until there is nothing left in it except the essence of whatever it started out to be.  If you analyzed it in a lab, it would test out as a sugar pill.

So Dr. Mohan designs a homeopathic remedy for me, Dr. Wechsler brings it to a local fellow who makes it, and then he brings it to me.  And then what happens?

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
This entry was posted in American medical industry, drugs, Government Services, Health Care, Holistic, Medicaid, Medical care, Medicare, Pharmaceuticals, physician, Values. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Homeopathy or Bust

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