Your Medical Mind | Overstuffed Overstuffed

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Your Medical Mind


I was supposed to post my review of this book this morning. But I have really good reasons why I didn't, and they are even apropo to the topic--lucky me!

I spent the majority of today in the urgent care, and then the rest of it in the ER.

Fun times.

So, I went to help in Sophia's classroom early this morning, and got back home around 9:20 am, to find The Maestro still in bed. His breathing sounded awful, and when he finally did wake up, he felt horrendous. So I told him to get in the car, 'cause we were off to the Urgent Care.

Now, I must give the tiniest bit of backstory here. Joel was sick with a pretty bad cold/crud/whatever's going around last week. A week ago Sunday, he finally decided to go into the Urgent Care and get a Z-Pack. He always gets one without any problem when he starts getting the crud, and it always clears it up within a couple days. Now, this is not what I would do, and I have always thought he's a little bit silly for insisting, but who am I to tell him what to do? Well, the doctor he got last Sunday was a little more on my side of the fence, antibiotically speaking. In fact, you might say she was anti-antibiotic, which would make her probiotic, I suppose. She would NOT give him the Z-pack no matter how he argued for it. She basically called him a baby for coming in at all when he just had a "little cold" and sent him packing with some cough suppressant and Sudafed, and told him to only come back if he wasn't better in two weeks.

Note: I was not there. I am getting all of this information from The Maestro, who is a known exaggerator. But she definitely refused him the hoped-for Z-Pack and told him he'd be fine.  And, he can be a bit of a baby when he's sick, even he admits that much.

After a couple days he was feeling better. Except there was always this kind of lingering cough and chest congestion. And THAT kept getting worse.

And then came today.

So everything at the Urgent Care took forever. I had Sophia with me, so I waited in the lobby while Sophia drew pictures and I played Words With Friends. Joel texted me updates for the entire two hours we were there, and apparently the doctor was really worried. He ordered an albuterol treatment first because he suspected Joel was having asthma issues due to the illness he had had last week. (This is what I also suspected, especially since Bria was just diagnosed with illness-induced asthma yesterday!) But, when things didn't clear up enough after the treatment, the doctor referred him to the ER, and I got this text:
That was a little weird. An AMBULANCE? Why on earth would he need an ambulance when the hospital was only 10 minutes away and he wasn't dying. I admit, it made me a little scared that they even suggested it. But then they kept him back there for another 20 minutes or so--Joel says doing paperwork, talking to the doctor up at the hospital and having another doctor come in and give a second opinion.

Meanwhile, I was calling the schools and friends and trying to arrange the afternoon so I could spend a couple more hours at the ER.

Okay, so as not to make a long story longer: It turned out that the doctors thought he was having a heart attack. Which he wasn't. But it was kind of scary there for a minute when I realized where the questions were going and then when talk of an EKG came out. As it turns out, it was the beginnings of pneumonia and the previously suspected asthma.

So, may I remind you that this is a book review. Your Medical Mind by Drs Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband addresses a lot of things about learning to take charge of our health. So many, that you'll need to read the book to get the full story, but our experiences today really highlight several things I had just learned by reading this book.

First of all, we all have different approaches to our own health. These can be based on our upbringings, our past health experiences, our goals, and even our observations of others.

I tend to take a much more natural and skeptical view of medicine. I don't like putting drugs of any kind into my body unless I really feel it is necessary. I would rather deal with a headache than live on painkillers because I'm not sure that painkillers aren't going to do more harm than good, and I believe my body is capable of healing itself. I only take myself to the doctor when I am at a real breaking point, and even then I'm not likely to fill all the prescriptions I'm given. I'm what the authors of this book would probably call a "doubter." In the text I posted above, you can see some of my "doubting" tendencies. I hate how my albuterol inhaler makes me feel. And I also hate how my other (steroid) inhaler makes my throat dry out--how am I supposed to sing like that? Both inhalers live in my purse and rarely come out unless I really can't breathe. I'd rather live with a small asthma attack (mine is mostly exercise/cold-induced, though I did have some issues with allergy-induced asthma this past spring that made me have no choice but to inhale), than have the shakes or a dry throat. I know my body, and I know what I can handle.

Joel, on the other hand, is more of a believer. But he also knows his body. He realizes that the Z-pack always prevents the pneumonia from developing, and the fact that he has had pneumonia develop more than once after a simple cold tells him that he is susceptible. He regrets not being more firm with the anti-antibiotic doctor he saw last week, and thinks he probably should have made an appointment with his regular doctor immediately. But he didn't, and today was completely lost because of it. I think next time he will definitely advocate more vigorously for himself.

And the doctors? Doctors also have very different styles. The whole heart attack thing was a little disconcerting, but it was interesting to me that this doctor was taking both his job and Joel's health VERY seriously. I believe the other doctor was too, it's just that she came at it from an entirely different perspective. One that involves things like super-bacteria and patients always requesting antibiotics even when they aren't needed. It can be really difficult to filter through our own experiences and find the truth in a patient-doctor relationship.

This book really helped me to understand how to advocate for myself, how to know if I really do need medical intervention, how to interpret all of the medical studies that are out there and so much more. A lot of it was stuff I already know and understand, but I still learned a lot. I also found the point of view refreshing. Here are two doctors who are telling the world that doctors really don't know everything, and we as patients are a critical part of our own healthcare.

And whether you're a believer or a doubter, you'll find lots of great information to broaden your medical mind.

*********************

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Booktours in exchange for this review.

14 comments :

  1. When I went to readycare last month and ordered a z-pack, I was told no - but I was told that it's no longer working like it used to. Which would explain why I had to go back for another dose last year so soon after I finished it.

    I'm very susceptible to pneumonia, so it's something I'm always wondering about too - and while I would prefer not to put any drugs in my body, I do also recognize and acknowledge that sometimes there is a need for them.

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  2. I have the same problem, and I have learned that I need to see my regular doctor if at all possible. That is the doc who knows me best. Hope he is feeling better soon!

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  3. You really do have to be on your game with the whole healthcare thing.
    That doctor was being rediculous.
    Imagine the ambulence bill.
    BUT, you just can't be blown like a leaf, but you have to listen when doctors really know what they're doing.
    Fine line. You almost have to have a nurse friend to walk it. :D

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  4. I'm glad things turned out alright! I have always been a firm believer that we know our bodies better than we give ourselves credit for. And sometimes that means we have to get after the doctors to do what is right for ourselves too.

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  5. I am more of a doubter. Which is interesting because I am married to an ER doc. Of course I'm an even bigger doubter of homeopathy, so I guess I just don't do a lot of anything.

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  6. What an ordeal! Scary! I hope he made it through the night okay and that he gets better soon. Man.

    This book actually sounds really interesting. I definitely think that people are too quick to rush to the doctor instead of working with themselves and especially at trying to prevent illnesses. Interesting thoughts.

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  7. I can see both sides. My husbands family are extreme naturalists and rarely if ever go to a doctor or take medications of any kind.

    I on the other hand will take whatever will help me feel better. Sometimes it's just vitamins and herbs and sometimes it's actual prescription medication.

    Scary episode for Joel. In hindsight, one can say that an ambulance was overreacting, but working in the medical field, I can tell you that the docs get sued so often and for such crazy things that many of them REFUSE to take any risk of any kind. The doc was doing what his bosses have told him to do. In the end, Joel was treated and taken care of, and I guess that's all that matters.

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  8. I try to strike a balance between the believer and non-believer. I'm genreally healthy, but I do have some issues that meds have totally helped. My mom is in very poor health and knows when she is going south. She knows what she needs and when she needs it. As for antibiotics, I do think they can be overused, but they are a life saver when needed.

    And PS...Joel, I'm glad your not having a heart attack. :)

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  9. Sheesh! I hope he is on the mend soon. That sounds terrible!

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  10. Wow! I really hope he gets feeling better quickly. That sounds like an awful way to spend your day. Great book review.

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  11. What a scary ordeal for both of you—I'm so glad they were finally able to properly diagnose Joel, and that it didn't turn out to be a heart attack. Why is it that it always takes a terrifying amount of trial and error before they figure out that pneumonia is involved? A similar thing happened to the Tailor, and he got sent home multiple times before he finally collapsed on the hospital floor. THAT got their attention, and they finally discovered the pneumonia—and a fractured shoulder blade, which prevented him from breathing deeply. Yikes.

    I totally agree that because we know ourselves better than any doctor who doesn't see us on a daily basis, that we can take charge of our health and help advocate for ourselves. So glad you're able to consider all the angles of the situation, and still be persistent to get the care you and Joel need. Sending you both my best wishes.

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  12. What a crazy day for the two of you! I hope he's on the mend soon.

    I find I walk a fine line between medical and non-medical treatments. I used to be a lot more natural leaning than I am now, but when I had Max everything I knew and beleived in went out the window. With him, an ear infection is just as likely to land him in the ER or in surgery as it is to be cured with antibiotics, so let's just say we're ona first name basis with all of the staff at our pediatrician's office.

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  13. Wow, great to hear that he wasn't having a heart attack! And what perfect timing to have been reading this book - I'm glad it gave you some things to think about!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

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  14. That is SCARY! It always terrifies me when a doctor mentions ER, or anything even slightly more urgent than the regular check up office. Wow. I am glad everything is under control now, and getting better (I assume).
    I have a book called....
    Oh shoot. I forgot the name of it! But it is something to the effect of Raising Healthy Children Despite Their Doctors. I can't remember. I love that book. It is full of helpful information on how medical intervention is not always the best choice, and what you can do for your child from home. Your Medical Mind (from your review) sounds like it has a similar standpoint. I need to read it now.

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