Medicine seems to have become so fragmented that we’ve lost the art of caring for the whole person.
I have seen cases such as the following example. A patient sees her doctor about her symptoms of hot flushes, insomnia, joint aches and premenstrual migranes that occurred around her irregular cycles, Her doctor says, “…it doesn’t matter if you’re in menopause…all women go through menopause, we need to treat your symptoms”. She was offered a sleeping pill, a Triptan (Imitrex) to treat the migraines, a prescription NSAID for pain and a birth control pill to help her cycles. She was also offered a psych evaluation. Wouldn’t a better solution be to look at what is causing the symptoms?
It’s true that we should not “medicalize” menopause, but this natural transition in a woman’s life leads to abrupt hormone fluctuations that cause a variety of symptoms and can disrupt the quality of life; especially when lack of sleep is involved. Offering her natural hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or alternative solutions may help all her symptoms by balancing her hormone levels and smoothing out these fluctuations.
It’s alarming to me that some practitioners still look at a patient as a specific organ problem, ie the gallbladder patient, the hip pain paient, instead of looking “upstream” at why and where are these symptoms coming from. I want to know about your lifestyle, what you eat, medications (and supplements) you take, your support system, your stresses, your digestion and sleep.
I understand that our healthcare system makes it difficult if not almost impossible to spend more than 15 minutes with someone due to our insurance driven “get them in, get them out” policy in order to make a profit. The quickest and easiest thing is to hand a patient a prescription so you can go to your next patient.
Almost gone are the days when you really knew your patient. You grew up with her, watched her start her family, took care of her children and supported her through her aging years while enjoying the stories of her joys and sorrows. These days we refer patients from one specialist to another. And now we have a variant of super-specialization. We don’t just refer someone to an orthopedic MD, put to the orthopedic specializing in ankles, or knees or shoulders. The exception to the rule is the family practitioner or general practitioner.
More patients are starting to look for health practitioners that take the time they want and need to really know about them as a person and help to individualize their healthcare. I work in such a place. I find it is satisfying to the patient as they thank me for the time that was spent listening to them, and it is so rewarding for me to help my patients in their healing process and discuss options that are specific for them.
Isn’t it time that we get back to the true healing and wholistic care of each person? Is there a place for this in our rushed, fast-paced medical system that is run by businesses that care more about the bottom line than the quality of life? This is a good time for you to re-evaluate whether you’re being listened to and getting the care you expect (and deserve).
Deborah Breakell, MSN., CFNP is a family nurse practitioner that works at Helios Integrated Medicine in Boulder Colorado.