Parenting Seminars

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Western Medicine or Alternative Medicine

I am in the middle. Seriously...this middle place seems to be where I sit often. You know that space while you're moving, while change is taking place. I think its a much larger space than the points on each end of the continuum. Whether it be the continuum of environmental stewardship and capitalistic consumerism or the public schools and homeschooling continuum or some of the most obvious political and social stances. Moving between the points on the ends feels so much more comfortable for me.

Although, there seems to be a lot of pressure from the ends that we choose, completely, one way or the other. And its that pressure that I'm seeking to avoid. The only way I know how to not feel it is to be confident in my choices and find what works for ME. I believe we are all individuals of the same whole. What we do, think and feel as individuals absolutely affects the greater whole. However, we were given free choice for a reason. There are many paths to our best selves.

So as our family moves through the health issues of early childhood and the wake up calls of our adult physical selves, we are expanding our understanding of health care. Even those words are significant. HEALTH care versus medical care. Now...I have not moved completely to natural medicine. I was raised in a house with a nurse mother who's confidence and competence in her field made a world of difference to a sick or hurt kid. I have one sister who is also a nurse and now a vice president of a regional hospital and another sister who is a scientist at a pharmaceutical company. I have western medicine roaring through my cultural past.

I also live in Seattle, where the number of naturopaths, massage therapists, nutritionists, accupuncturists, herbalists and other various traditional medicine practitioners seem to rival the number of western medicine practitioners. So I have the blessed opportunity to explore lots of options. Add to it the health insurance industries broader acceptance of traditional medicine and I can even pay for this exploration. Because I'm discovering that sometimes, one problem can lead to several paths of care. And our job as parents is to make those decisions.

So in the past year, I we have had some huge changes. Our first child who is now 4 was described by us as our "durable" child. She didn't get sick much, seemed to move through those first several years with little health issues. No ear infections, no major illnesses, no food allergies (or so we thought) and so we mostly saw the doctor for the well-child visits and immunizations. Then my second was born. After her 2 month immunization appointment, she broke out in the worst hives the docs had ever seen. They were bringing in other doctors and residents just to take a look at the example of what could happen. These reactions continued so we decided to stop immunizations until we could figure out what else to do. Add to it some other physical problems around the same time as cow's milk was introduced including her first ear infection and I had to do some research.

We ended up taking her off milk to see noticeable differences in her health and that's when I went to a naturopath. After our first visit with yet another ear infection, I came home with several bottles. An immune booster mixture, garlic ear drops and acidophilus. I had a strange feeling that this wasn't any different than western medicine. I still left with a variety of things to give my kid. Is this what medicine is about? What's your concern? Here's a tincture or chemical compound for that!

I was patient and began seeing the difference. Then I had worries about whether or not the naturopath would do immunizations. I believe in immunizations. I believe we have been saved as a society by some discoveries and don't want to risk losing my child to some of the diseases that we as a society have been able to prevent. HOWEVER...I also watched my child respond to the crazy number and schedule of immunizations that don't make sense when their immune system is still developing.

While in the western medicine doctor's office, I had to build confidence and stand firm against the schedule. I had to say no to the "authority", not something that is easy for me. But then I also was left to make a plan without any guidance. If I wasn't going to follow their rules then I was on my own. In the naturopath's office the response was much different. She gave a recommendation to wait until we got my daughter's immune system strong again. Then we'll look at the immunizations and decide what we might want to give at age 2. She is going to go through them all with me. She even does a workshop for parents on the topic. Now I feel a part of the process. I have learned so much from this experience. I have learned some new techniques for treating ear infections, rashes and colds. They include herbs, tinctures and mixtures I make myself. Things that I have discovered even in large doses, won't hurt the kids. No weird medicines that I don't understand with a long list of possible side effects, people proof bottles and fears of overdose in a child. I feel like I have been empowered. Like I have some control back in my children's health and I don't just have to go to an expert when something happens to have them tell me what to do.

This is a process but we have definitely expanded our view of medical care. There is so much more to this health picture. Especially when we look at our oldest daughter's story. But mostly I want to recognize both approaches to my family's health and be able to make the choices that work for us. Did you hear that legislature?!?!? WE NEED TO HAVE CHOICES!!!!


kmilling said...

This is great! I didn't realize you had a blog- I will follow! I started my first blog in January: Buried Carrots. It is a vegetarian/vegan food blog. Maybe down the road we can work together to do some cross posts- kid friendly gluten-free stuff? Looking forward to reading more.

Chessa said...

It's a tight-rope walk, isn't it? We currently only see a naturopath as our PCP, but only because I know from experience that she LISTENS to and TRUSTS me as a participant in my and my family's health. It's a very different relationship than I've had with most other medical professionals.

As an aside, if you guys continue to have ear infection issues you should give the chiropractor a try. I had about a billion ear problems growing up; we have our boys adjusted a few times a year and they've never had ear troubles. Just anecdotal on our end, but there is some research supporting the idea (has to do with being in proper alignment, which allows the ears to drain properly so no festering can occur). Just another choice/option! :)