I feel like I’m a magnet for “medical horror stories.”
And I’ve even been the subject of one or two myself.
Any of us can suddenly find ourselves in a situation of needing help and not being able to get it. Or seeking out help from the sources where we have always been told we can get it, and suddenly finding out that it’s just not available. Or it’s not available to us.
For example, here’s a recent plea from a Facebook friend:
Last week someone I know was hospitalized with a fracture. The doctors recommended surgical treatment, but he didn’t want it because he’d had bad experiences with previous surgeries (he is disabled with a weak heart, and surgery poses a significant risk of cardiac arrest for him).
So he asked if his fracture could heal without surgery. The doctor replied that, though it would take longer, his fracture could heal without surgery.
Being leery of western medicine, being concerned for his heart health, and preferring the support of his naturopath and acupuncturist, he opted to not have the surgery.
Instead, he chose to just use pain medications and manage the healing with the support of his alternative health practitioners.
Sounds reasonable enough, right? But things turned wrong pretty quickly …as they often do when you step off the beaten health industry path:
Medical staff labeled him as “refusing treatment.”
Without his (or his family’s) consent, he was transferred to a substandard care facility, left unattended, without a post-care plan or pain medication, placed with indigent patients and in general, felt that he was being punished for his decision.
And, just like usually happens when he is in the hospital, his health is getting worse.
What I want to know is, how would someone go about lodging a formal complaint about the unauthorized (and unethical) transfer to a substandard facility with inadequate care?
Can they “punish” him for his lifestyle choices like this? I mean, regardless of his personality, doesn’t he deserve the dignity of following the system of health care he believes in?
And then, even if we could get justice in this situation, the biggest question is, how does a person, who doesn’t want to get gobbled up by the “system” of hospitals, etc, actually GET HELP?
I hear of this kind of situation regularly.
The most important thing is to get the right help and support for healing, and sometimes this is not very clear-cut. But, once you get that support for real the first time, you know what to do for yourself and others the next time this kind of situation comes up. (Which, sadly, it very likely will).
What we need to consider is, how can we best get this person the care that he needs, and at the same time protect him from potential harm?
The most important factor is protection of this person’s emotional and psychological state.
When you’re in pain and fear, it can be absolutely devastating to be rejected from care because of who you are. It can have tremendous long term psychological effects.
Being abandoned or rejected just when we are most vulnerable can, in fact, make us very, very ill. When you are making decisions for getting the care you need, please understand that this is what you are up against:
1. The system cannot be confronted
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.R. Buckminster Fuller
The system, from the drug companies to the health professionals to the political and legal structures that are funded by and protective of it, is 100% founded on the principle that it is the one and only right way to go.
It’s a waste of precious energy filing a complaint. You won’t get justice this way, because the system believes that you are in the wrong.
Chalk it up as a learning experience, put that energy into personal support for the one who needs it, and then, if you’re still angry, help make the system obsolete by supporting others who find themselves in this type of situation.
2. The system cannot work with incompatible systems
Gause’s Law of Competitive Exclusion: in a complex system, two species competing for the same resources cannot coexist if other system factors are constant.Science Daily
The conventional medical paradigm unequivocally believes that illness is caused by anatomical damage or deformity. Inquiring about alternatives or about self-care is a threat to the health industry because the underlying belief is the opposite: that your body is doing something meaningful and to your benefit.
From the health industry’s point of view, you can trust Nature …or you can trust the health industry. Not both.
It’s appropriate to use medical technology to save a life. It’s appropriate to use “alternative” therapies to gently support yourself while you heal. But don’t try to put all your eggs into one external health care basket.
The medical system is obliged to provide anatomical support no matter which system the patient ultimately goes with. But it has massive legal clout, and, if the medical system has already lost you as a financial resource…you become an unwanted expense to a harried staff.
It should be pretty easy to find a doctor to prescribe pain meds and other anatomical intervention as needed, even if it means going into the emergency room. But don’t expect to be given any care beyond the absolute legal minimum.
The gigantic health care industry does not have tolerances or flexibility to give attention to customers that won’t provide significant profits. It’s in the financial best interest of the health industry if they give the minimum legal care to those who don’t represent their ideal prospect. And get you out the door as quickly as possible.
3. The system cannot be charitable
A single bad customer can practically destroy a business.Ken Gaebler, Business Insider, “How to Fire a Bad Customer”
When you begin making special demands from the healthcare industry, such as making your own medical decisions and bringing in conflicting health care practitioners, you are being a “problem customer.”
If you don’t want (or can’t afford) expensive drugs, surgery, tests, angiograms, and a theatre of support specialists to handle your special case surgery, then there is no money to be made from you.
Busy health care professionals are pressured to put their attention on those that they can help, just as you and I are right to not spend our valuable time and energy on people who come at us expecting us to serve them in ways that we are not comfortable serving. It’s better to smile and say “no,” so you can focus on people who really can benefit from your help.
Any of us who acts as our own health care provider is just not a good fit for the industry and it is not fiscally appropriate for it to spend valuable resources on people like us.
Expect lifesaving anatomical interventions from the health industry. Ask for compassion from people and organizations that want to give you that compassion.
4. The system cannot be loving
Your body is a machine. Learn the right way to take care of it.Candice Swanepoel, MD
Finally, realize that the entire health industry is built to perform anatomical correction of the body. Not to care for individuals.
If you go in from a vulnerable position of “please help me, my life is in your hands” you have a real chance of getting offered mechanistic and frightening treatments that may feel too harsh and can make you sicker.
Health professionals are the experts on anatomy. Go to them for anatomical information. Get as much anatomical information from them as you need to understand what’s happening in your body.
But save some grief. Don’t mention that you’re into alternative treatment and won’t be following up with their care.
If you’re feeling pressured, you can assert a boundary. It’s your body. (“Does the level of care you are offering depend on me not seeking alternative opinions?” has helped me get a couple chop-happy MD’s to back off. So has, “In the event of an injury as a result of this optional procedure, who is legally responsible?”)
Once you know the mechanics of what’s going on, seek elsewhere for the care you really want. Support, pain management, trauma resolution, rehabilitation, and a soothing, compassionate hand on your forehead reminding you that life is wonderful and your body is good.