Every classroom has one… that sassy kid who says, “but what about…” at least once a day. I was that kid… for a time. I got in trouble too many times for being disrespectful when really my mind was so full of ideas and examples that weren’t explained so neatly as “the sky is blue and trees are green”. I stopped asking the questions out loud, but continued to question blanket statements.
Even when it came to health care, I was too rebellious to believe that there’s only one right answer. At 19 years old, I was rushed to the hospital just in time before my appendix ruptured. Right lower quadrant abdominal pain – think appendicitis. Standard medical treatment is the removal of the inflamed appendix. That should be the end of the story, but not for me. I was grateful for the timely care, but I wanted to know why this happened, and what could have been done to prevent a surgery.
I’m in my 40’s now, and a parent to 3 beautiful, healthy kids. I constantly question the status quo. Just because something is common doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right or the best choice for my kids. “One-size-fits-all” doesn’t work when we look at public education. There will always be a few kids who fall through the cracks because they can’t keep up, aren’t being challenged enough, or respond better to alternate teaching styles. In many cases, there isn’t enough resources to go around, even with wonderful teachers doing their best. Public health care can be the same way. It’s wonderful that we have it, but it’s not the be-all-end-all. Like public school, resources are limited, and many practices cater to the lowest common denominator. When there aren’t enough resources to go around, the sickest ones get helped first, and just enough help for them to be out of danger. Very little is left over for preventative care. Therefore, to be most efficient, sweeping recommendations tend to be made across the board, rarely taking into account personal differences in lifestyle, health status or even medical history.
I understand where all this is coming from. Doctors are so pressed for time that some have office policies telling patients they will only address one complaint per visit. With so few pieces of the puzzle, it can be difficult to see the bigger picture. Family doctors need to decide which specialist to refer patients with complicated issues, sometimes multiple specialists for multiple symptoms. There can be disagreements among them about relative importance of each treatment when one can cause new problems in another area of the body. Sometimes it can feel like you’re a hamster running on a wheel and not getting any closer to a resolution.
For this reason, in our office, we start off by getting to know the bigger picture of each new practice member. Some prefer a compartmentalized approach and choose to go elsewhere. The ones who stay, generally appreciate that someone wants to connect the dots. Depression and irritability for example, can be a side effect of frustration that a physical problem has not been improving. The ongoing pain can be interfering with sleep, so severely that the person can’t concentrate at work or school. In a child, the discomfort might be difficult to pinpoint or explain and so the child might be fidgety, fussy, clumsy or distracted. The teacher might assume the child isn’t paying attention on purpose and the other kids may tease the first child for being slow to catch on. One by one, symptoms may dictate a need for antidepressants, sleeping pills, painkillers, stimulants, cognitive behaviour therapy counselling, tutoring, physical therapy, occupational therapy and orthotics. The list can, and does, get overwhelming.
“Giving Ritalin to children is a superficial solution that changes children’s behaviour without addressing possible underlying social, emotional, or environmental causes”
– Aletha Solter, PhD. in her article titled, “The Drugging of Children: A National Disgrace”.
Parents like me will demand, “there must be a better solution”. Offices like ours will take the time to learn as much as possible about the back story, both the present environment and past physical, emotional and mental stressors. Then we will analyze the current impact on the body and nervous system with a thorough chiropractic examination. During this process, we aim to determine whether we can help, in what capacity, and to what degree. “But can’t I figure out for myself on Dr. Google or Web MD what to do?” There is much advice to be found on the web, not all of it correct, and not necessarily appropriate or the best for you or your child.
A big source of disappointment is when people are expecting a certain result and they don’t get it right away. Miracle stories can give the impression of simple answers to complex problems. It is natural to want great results without effort, but this expectation can be unrealistic. Worse is when people put off getting help, thinking they, too, will get instant miracles when the time comes. Personalized healthcare is about finding out your starting point, and what you hope to achieve, and then creating a plan unique for your situation. Some people think they’re doing fine and don’t want much help. They may be satisfied with generic tips and recommendations. Then there are those who want more or are really struggling and conventional methods don’t meet their needs.
Are you looking for a more personalized approach to healthcare for yourself or your family? Download a free Baseline Health Questionnaire, and lets start the discussion.