Of Butterflies, Homeopathy and Physicians

So I wake up from my nap and lay here watching the butterflies in the window. There are five of them—yellow, blue, turquoise, variegated and something indefinable on the red/yellow spectrum. Four are stained glass and one is plastic; four hang from plastic thread and one is suction-cupped to the window. With the window open, the yellow and variegated ones are floating on the breeze. I watch them for a long time and reflect on homeopathy and the last 48 hours.

For months the laboratory has been telling me that I have a bacterial urinary tract infection with a colony of “over 100,000.” Yesterday I found out that actually it’s over 600,000, which, technically, is over 100,000—but way over. Six hundred thousand is a very bad thing. Delirium, sepsis and death are within striking distance.

So I go to the good doctor and he asks, will you take antibiotic, knowing full well that I won’t. Pharmaceuticals mess up my mind so badly that life isn’t worth living. Let me ask you: would you take a drug if you knew it would make you shriek at your husband and children on an hourly basis? Would you do that? What if it would turn you into a tortured spirit/soul/psyche/mind? How much is your immortal soul worth to you? Would you fight for your body at the cost of your soul?

So the good doctor writes a scrip for an antibiotic, just in case I feel like trying it, and I tell him that if they drag my sorry ass into the hospital in an unconscious state, then they can give me antibiotics. Meanwhile, I’m going home to meet with the homeopaths, he a burly chested fellow with a big beard and she decked out in a gauzy brown skirt and turquoise shirt.

I tell them the good news: when they started me on the first remedy about six weeks ago, I was experiencing shortness of breath upon exertion, said exertion consisting of getting out of bed. Now I no longer have shortness of breath while working in the home, but sometimes when I’m working in the garden. Also, I was so tired that I only could stand up for three to five minutes; now, I can do 45 minutes.

Then I tell them the bad news: urinary tract infection (UTI) that is edging in the direction of fatal; depression that is making life not worth living, and vision problems so bad that I can’t see the pastor in the pulpit or read the television screen. Bushy beard and turquoise shirt make a couple decisions. First, the UTI is causing the vision problems. Well, shucks, who knew that an acute infection could affect the eyes? The homeopaths did.

Second, the depression is because the homeopathic remedy they’ve been giving me is too strong. When I told them what the last homeopath had prescribed, they recognized it as a medium-weight remedy and far too intense for me, so they started with a light-weight remedy that also turned out to be too strong. After prescribing ten drops, the depression became morbid and paralyzing, and they had to talk me through it on a daily basis.

After that, I took one drop a day in a cup of water, which later was upgraded to one drop twice a day. That’s when the depression started again but I didn’t make the connection. Now the homeopaths are talking about how sensitive I am. They got it that I was sensitive but didn’t realize just how extremely sensitive. Now they say that on the bell curve of patients, I’m way out at the end—most sensitive fifteen or twenty percent. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.

Physicians demand that I be just like everybody else in the middle of the bell curve. They are adamantly resistant to accepting that I am anything but a regular person. Why are they so unwilling to acknowledge difference when it appears before them? When you enter a physician’s office and get the routine screening—height, weight, temperature, oxygen, blood pressure—wouldn’t it be wonderful if you also could be screened for sensitivity?

Once upon a time I was in a psych center with a woman who was manic—really, really extremely manic—and she was driving the rest of the patients up the wall. I went to the nurses’ station and said, look, we absolutely can’t stand this; you gotta give her drugs. [N.B. Now, in my advanced state of knowledge, I would never advocate this approach.] The nurse replied, “If I was taking what she’s taking, I wouldn’t even be able to stand up.” Point being, some people are so totally drug resistant that mega-medications have relatively little effect. There are, however, more of us at the other end of the spectrum who are dangerously sensitive, and why won’t physicians deal with it?

Once upon a time, like before 1985, physicians held the theory that infants couldn’t feel pain because they had immature nervous systems, therefore it was okay to do surgery without anesthesia. Yes indeedy, boys and girls, I was there when surgeons chopped up infants under the age of 18 months without benefit of anesthesia. One explanation for this was that physicians didn’t know how to safely and effectively administer anesthesia to infants, so they made up a theory to justify surgery without anesthesia. Amazing what physicians will do to justify ignoring their own areas of ignorance. I am hypersensitive; that is my reality. Physicians routinely deny my reality and try to force their own onto me.

So the homeopaths get it that I am dangerously hypersensitive. I really don’t have to tell them—or try to force them to accept it. They know it because they are fully present in the relationship with the patient. Physicians are out in the hall looking, not at the patient, but at the patient’s lab work as reported on the computer. If you can’t stand to look at your patient then you should get the hell out of medicine.

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 Alternative therapies, American medical industry, Depression, drugs, Health Care, Medical care, Mental Illness & Health, Pharmaceuticals, physician, Values and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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