Home / A Patient’s Perspective on Homeopathic Medicine

Bus Change: by Susan Tretakis

Health care today is like taking a long, uncomfortable bus ride. Just when you think you know where your stop is – it turns out to be a stop in a neighborhood you would very much like to avoid.

For almost 17 years, my doctor was a local, general practitioner. For the purposes of this article – and because I have no desire to be sued – I’ll call him Dr. X. Once I hit my fifth decade, 16 years ago, Dr. X insisted – for “my own continued quality-driven healthcare” – that he must see me every three months. These visits were necessary to monitor blood pressure, my weight and assorted other reasons – primarily the fact that I was on so many medications.

In retrospect, I suspect he was also courting my inner hypochondriac, playing on the fears of someone growing older as well as someone who was not particularly thrilled to use the words “self” and “old” in the same sentence. And, also in retrospect, there is the dark realization that I the reason I was on so many medications was a direct consequence of his prescription pad.

Here’s the downside of never being sick as a child or as a young adult: old age has many surprises for you. If you are like me and reluctant to share dismaying information about sudden and mysterious aches and pains with friends – you share it with your family doctor – someone who you are now – ironically and sadly – seeing more often than you see your friends.

To his credit, Dr. X would listen, and then, after discussion and research on his phone, write me a variety of prescriptions – be they for yet another new sleep aid, another, new “highly successful” medication for anxiety, an increase in some vitamin or supplement, additional appointments for medical tests scheduled with other, more specialized medical professionals “to rule out” what he pre-supposed may be going on within my body and my head.

Additionally, there were always warnings as to what to watch out for – be it cold hands or cold feet – headaches – tingles. If any these things happened, I was to come into his office – or go to the ER – IMMEDIATELY. He even spoke in all capitals. Maybe it’s just me, but if you remind me every three months “to watch my step not to fall” – I guarantee you – I will concentrate so much on watching my step that I WILL fall!

Disclaimer #1: Dr. X is a very smart man – acknowledged by his peers as a “Diplomate” in family practice and an esteemed teacher at the local University’s medical school.

Disclaimer #2: I am not a medical doctor. While I do have many undergraduate, graduate and post graduate degrees, and I can tell you a great deal of things about a great many things, it bears repeating: I am not a medical doctor. However, I do not consider myself a stupid person. I do not consider myself “naïve” or unable to see what is right in front of me. I believe my 40 years as an educator and a counselor show me to be competent, thoughtful, insightful person – one who is able to identify the varieties of truth that make up today’s world.

So, with all that, I ask this question: Why did it take me 17 years to suddenly realize that the person responsible for my health should not be a man in a white coat who was aided and abetted by the pharmaceutical companies? How did I go from someone who for 49 years never took a pill to someone at who age 50 now needed monitoring every three months?

Given my tendency to name absolutely everything, I began referring to this as the “Dr. X Effect”.

Apparently, the “Dr. X Effect” is to treat every problem with a pill, or another procedure, or a referral for another specialized, consultation. What stopped me cold one afternoon – 17 years later – was when Dr. X said to me, “Ms Robbins – (NOT my name) – You need to leave your medical care to the professionals.”

Western medicine has become so specialized that even after 17 years, it doesn’t even know your name anymore.

It was quite apparent that as easy as it was to hand all of my medical decisions over to someone else, it was time to change my bus route.

I left this bus at the next stop and wandered into homeopathy. Much of it appealed to me and my inner, aging hippie.   I loved the idea of forgoing my twice a month visit to the drugstore for prescription refills. However, truth be told, much of it frightened me as well. I was all for treating minor ailments with homeopathic remedies, but the homeopaths’ strident songs began to sound much like the “Dr. X Effect” – there was an “either them or us” mentality that did not appeal to me.

Thus, this became the “Hippie Effect” – a road on which the homeopathic practitioners practically sneered “We don’t need real doctors or medicines or procedures – we can deliver our children in bathtubs or pools and cure disease by grinding various flowers and herbs” and ingesting them, applying them topically or in a variety of ways you really do not want to read here. Trust me on this.

A bit of self-disclosure: I readily admit to being a “wilting flower child” – and while I vividly remember sitting cross-legged in the mud at Woodstock – as well believing my body was more playground than temple, my friend (?) Aging has smacked me up the side of the head. Who knew that so many body parts could revolt so loudly, and at once? Aging and I spend many hours a day, eyeing each other from opposite sides of the rink. And, sad to say, Aging has won more than her share of rounds.

If I sat cross-legged in the mud today – – if cross leggedness was actually still an option for me – I would be sitting in that mud for many tomorrows – and the amusement park that was once my body in the 60’s is now in urgent need refurbishing. None of the rides are truly safe. I say this lovingly – but with a great deal of honest, self-knowledge.

So, somewhat relieved, I left that bus at the next stop.   After all, if I did have to have my knees replaced, a hospital was a much better alternative to a bathtub.

Here was my dilemma – I do believe that certain foods and spices can help with blood pressure, and I firmly believe in the benefits of good chiropractic care and qualified acupuncture treatment. I believe the food we eat can either kill us or nourish us – but my mind – trained in psychology – still felt the need for a true medical doctor.

There had to be another route – another way for me to healthfully balance between the “Dr. X. Effect” and the “Hippie Effect”.

And, then late one night, “GOOGLED” and “UTUBED” beyond that capacity of any one normal human being – a few things hit me:

First, I WAS the bus driver. I CHOOSE who to listen to and even then, I CHOOSE whether to follow their advice and/or suggestions.

Secondly, there is this wonderful thing known as “Complementary Health Care”. As the designated driver, I could tour any homeopathic route, any Western route I wished and avoid any I chose not to follow. I choose the stops – I choose the refilling stations.

As simple as this realization is, it represents a major, inner shift for me. I WAS the person making the decisions. Yes, I hoped they would be informed decisions – but the bottom line was that I was in charge of my health.

And I wasn’t alone.

The National Center for Health Statistics reports that 1 in 5 people were enhancing their quality of life, specifically – their very own health – by participating in lifestyle changes that included things like yoga, nutritional studies, acupuncture, chiropractic care and hypnosis. (WCCO Mid-Morning – June 22, 2016)

And here’s what I want to share with you – with this self-knowledge came empowerment – I became brave. I became my own advocate.

I could say “No.”

Just because the ophthalmologist recommended laser surgery for my “dry eye” for a non-insurance-covered fee of $2200.00 – there was an effective option in hot compresses and warm tea bags placed on my eyes.  Instead of building a dependency on anti-depressants and sleep medications, there was an array non-addicting Chinese herbs and homeopathic medicines at my disposal – as well as nutritional guides, blogs and websites.

Acupuncture treatments – and a kind and caring acupuncturist – can teach you many “tricks of the trade”; you can learn how to bring the energy down from your mind to warm your feet – and ultimately – to induce sleep. Meditation can help “etch-a-sketch” from your mind the day’s problems – and allow you – drug free – to reach for sleep or for daily mindfulness. Chiropractic care can teach you how to walk correctly, stand and stretch yourself. Yoga can teach you many things; for me, Yoga taught me that “when in doubt, follow my breath”.

Because I needed representation – and cooperation – from both sides of the medical aisle, I followed my “Complementary Medicine” breath. I searched for a primary care doctor using personal and professional recommendations – not just within the limits set by my insurance listings. Luckily, I found someone who checked both boxes – and someone who was actually willing to be interviewed for the position of being my medical doctor. His name is Dr. Landon Agoado at Boca Raton Acupuncture.

I began to ask more and more questions – and I quickly learned how many complementary treatments can ensure you stay out of the sickroom and/or hospital. For me, an acknowledged “waffler” when it comes to making decisions for myself, the choice between a lifestyle change or going to the hospital was a clear, “non-waffle” moment.

I admit that it is easier to be a passenger than a driver. But I want my health care to be comprehensive and unique to me; therefore, I prefer the steering wheel in my hands.

I now insist that my medical doctor appreciates what my acupuncturist and chiropractor do for me. I want every member of my health team to have me as their priority – and if they can’t play nice with each other, the offending party has to be shown a way out of my lifestyle sandbox.

I know how to brake, to pull off the road and how to use my blinkers to call for assistance.

Who knows me better than myself?

Who knows you better than you?

Schedule a free consultation and learn more on how complementary medicine such as acupuncture and homeopathy can help you.