Who’s the Boss?

I’m not one who thinks “oh my gosh, we’re still teaching algebra 2 in schools? Kids don’t need that! They need to know. . .” partially because I loved algebra.

However.

We have gotten away from schools teaching life skills. I look through old yearbooks of my school and wonder why shop class – woodworking, maybe some welding – was never an elective? Why did we have photoshop and current events but not woodworking? Why did the state require an art class but not sewing?

In my ten years of EMS with some years working in a clinical rehab setting mixed in, I have added another class I think should be required of every student to graduate: Healthcare.

There is a common misconception in the world today, at least in the United States, that what the doctor says is law.

False.

YOU make the decisions about YOUR healthcare.

If a doctor wants to give you a pain med that you cannot take with the work you do, tell him no.

If a doctor doesn’t believe you when you say something is off with your kid’s development, get a 2nd opinion.

If your specialist tells you to stop seeing a different specialist (who might actually be making a difference in your health) or they won’t see you anymore, make sure you get your patient file before you leave.

How can you make decisions about your healthcare if you don’t understand what they’re telling you?

Doctors often seem to speak a foreign language which can make an already stressful situation even more stressful and confusing. Learning the basics of medical terminology (-itis means inflammation) would go a long ways in letting people make educated, informed decisions regarding their health.

When you’re meeting with a doctor, have a list of questions. Some of mine include:

How do you decide treatment plans? Is it a hospital protocol? Is it based on your experience and current education? How open are you to non-western medicine (like homeopathic, natural medicine, chiropractic care, etc.)? If I come in with back pain, what steps would you take (pain meds vs stretching, chiro care vs surgery, etc.)?

Look at the covid season in 2020: doctors were refusing to treat patients with certain medicines and were disregarding everything they had previously known about viruses…because the health department told them to…because the CDC told them to…If you asked a doctor for the reasoning behind one treatment vs another treatment, they would get flustered. I know. I did this. When I asked my local health department, they could only read me the information the state health department had given them – no research to reference as basis behind the decisions.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer the person who may be reading my lab results and prescribing medications and supplements to be able to think for themselves. There is no cookie cutter treatment for patients because we are all individuals with different life factors influencing our health. A flow chart is great for guidance, but treatments should be specific to the needs of the individual.

After talking about medical terminology and actually screening potential docs, students should learn about advanced directives, end of life care, power of attorney, DNR orders.

Why?

As an EMT in private transport, it broke my heart to take someone to the ER constantly because their nearest kin refused to sign a DNR but the patient was no longer mentally competent to make informed decisions for themselves and had not set up advanced directives while they were still mentally alert and oriented. But they could still beg to just let them die in peace. Have you ever done a single compression on someone over 90 years old? How about someone around the age of 100? Not even a full compression, and every single rib is broken or cartilage is cracked. Now, they might survive, but they’ll be in pain, at risk for developing pneumonia, decreased quality of life for the duration.

People should learn to think about end of life care and wishes, and document them as well as discussing it with family and close friends who might end up making decisions for them.

Growing up with parents in emergency services and healthcare, talking about death and end of life care was normal supper conversation for us. My siblings and I have our funerals planned or a rough idea of what we want as well as know if we want life support or just let us go. We know what our parents want. My mind was absolutely blown when I got to college and learned that my fellow students didn’t even know that Ohio has two different types of DNR (arrest and comfort care) let alone when you would want a DNR and how to get one.

Learn what hospice is. In private transport and 911-response, my heart was and is broken for the patients and their families when we are called for someone who wants to die at home, but they’re in pain or struggling to breathe which results in a squad being called to take them to the ER. For reasons unbeknownst to me, hospice seems to have negative connotations when in all actuality hospice allows people to live the end of their lives with peace and dignity. Hospice nurses and techs can also help the family with the paperwork and knowing who to call when.

So there’s end of life care…

Now let’s talk preventative healthcare.

Preventative healthcare should be covered in health class, which is required, but unfortunately textbooks are very wishy washy and basically just print what the alphabet agencies tell them to print.

Preventative healthcare includes proper hydration, minerals and nutrient dense food, droplet precautions vs airborne precautions, exercise as medicine, and the list could go on for quite some time.

Exercise as medicine…

This topic alone would be a fairly large unit including the immune system, the role proper joint alignment plays in our health, and how exercise can prevent you from getting sick or getting severely sick.

Back pain? Have you tried stretching? Thoracic rolling? Yoga? Chiropractic care? Physical therapy?

Or are you going straight for the knife? Which would be followed up with physical therapy….and there is no such thing as just one back surgery.

Maybe you decide to just deal with the chronic pain or stiffness with the occasional flare up handled with pain meds.

Once upon a time, I worked in an ER. My squad was based there during my last year of college – and private transport. I often took my textbooks to the nursing station to study between transports and snack runs. Quite frequently, I would get back from a transport to find my textbook was missing. Soon, I quit hunting high and low and just went to whichever doc was on shift to ask for my textbook.

Why were these doctors stealing my textbooks?

Because they were amazed when I asked for their insight on a homework problem related to how the heart would react to certain intensity of exercise. They were floored to read over my shoulder that I was learning about how the body uses different foods for energy. I had to memorize formulas of which they had never heard regarding VO2 max and what it meant for prescribing, yes, prescribing exercise for people. The detail of the Kreb’s Cycle, also required to be memorized in greater detail than they had to memorize it during med school as well as how metabolism actually works blew them away. They were stealing my textbook because they, medical doctors, did not learn how much positive effect exercise actually has on the human body, how exercise and good nutrition truly is medicine. Doctors in general are not bad, but their hands have slowly but surely been tied when it comes to being well-rounded in all aspects of healthcare.

You make the decisions about Your healthcare. Be smart about it. Look at credible sources of information, but look at various sources. Consider more than one school of thought.

What decisions will you make moving forward?

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