Thursday, March 30, 2006

The New Medicine- a critique PART ONE

PBS Previews The New Medicine

PBS just ran this special tonite, so I have been watching it and taking notes- ten pages. I will rewatch it to correct quotes and comments I have made in a later post, or this one.

My first reaction is that Dana Reeve was not the best person to host this. My next thought is she was. Because according to the people that are involve in this kind of medicine, being restored as a WHOLE person, not just being made well, is what is important. SO if you are a doctor it is win win. It isn't about the people you save as much anymore as it is about the people you have "touched". Ummm... Maybe I have a different take on this, but I certainly want to be fixed as opposed to fiddled with. I would prefer that you put your effort into what is wrong with me physically. My friends and family can take care of the rest. My stress will not go away just because of a mindfulness meditation, nor will hubby's back pain go away with a dose of yoga.

But I digress. I want to do this in as orderly fashion as possible, so, I wanted to start with the major source of funding for this program- Web Md. I thought that was interesting, only because it gives the layperson a bit of a heads up as to what the philosophy of Web Md might be. They are obviously very CAM friendly. If you do not see the value of CAM, this information might be useful as you look for information about your particular condition.

The start to this show called illness a "great teacher". Now, personally I do not subscribe to that way of thinking. I think that being ill only teaches me how much it sucks to be ill. I hearken back to my experience with C. Diff last year, and I think that the lesson learned there was stay the hell out of the hospital if you are on antibiotics. Otherwise you could get really nasty ass sick and possibly die. Other than that it was not a great teacher. I was bored, I was angry and I was ticked off that I was not at work. I was also thankful that FINALLY I was on contract and had sick days covered. It was not pleasant or psychologically or spiritually uplifting. I do not know why we are so enamored of the idea that everything we go through should make us better human beings. I don't believe that most people think this is true. Unfortunately, there is a very loud subset of individuals who are propagating this little meme, and I think it needs to be qualified. It should not be assumed that we all learn from illness, but that some CHOOSE to make this a learning experience. I digress.

The next little bit of information that was extrapolated upon was that health and well being are predicated on our emotional state, and that Hope, the chimera, influences physical health. Umm...


This was the first hour of the program. We meet a young mother who has no amniotic fluid for her baby to live in. Delivering after one week is normal for this condition. Tracy Gaudet, MD is talking about having seen "miracles" happen, and she is trying to reassure Tammy that while the odds are not in her favour, her attitude can help. Stress adversely impacts the immune system. Lots of stress will probably lead to an early labour, so they are going to teach her stress management techniques AND use antibiotics, to stop premature labour and fight infection. The biochemistry of stress is discussed, with the effects of adrenaline and cortisone being touched upon. Excess cortisol suppresses the immune system so if they can lower the stress they can lower the risk of infection. Dr. Gaudet then leads Tammy in an exercise where she encourages her to take a mind vacation so that Tammy's mind and body get relief. (Do stress hormones induce labour? That is just my question.)

They discussed the 20th century mind/body split in medicine...They also did point out that PHYSICAL DISEASE CAN AFFECT YOUR EMOTIONAL HEALTH (Remember Slacker or Sick). Then the Glaser wound healing study was discussed. The not stressed out control group healed nine days sooner than the stressed out caregivers of an Alzheimers patient. A lumbar disc surgery patient was introduced, and it was interesting to see that his insurance company, Blue Shield, had shelled out 17 dollars for a Guided Imagery tape for him to listen to before the operation. The tape was meant to reassure the patient that his surgeons and caregivers were competent and he would be fine. Apparently BS had done a trial and found out that this 17 dollar investment saved them 2 grand in drugs and hospital costs per patient.

The docs on this show were so eager to point out that these examples were outside our current paradigm of knowledge and expectations. Gary Walco, a pediatric pain doc says that if you dichotomize pain as only physiological or psychological- You're Dumb! We meet 13 year old Helene who after a mild flu like illness has continued to experience major pain. He asks her if her pain is stabbing, fearful(WTF?) and a lot of other words, and then asks if she ever has any relief. She says no. He tells the camera that pain is controlling her, she is not controlling the pain. Then we meet a great example of someone who is willing to control his pain- 18 year old Matthew who has CP. He participates in a relax session then gets hypnotized. (Self hypnosis techniques were found to have some effect on A GROUP OF KIDS in a hospital setting. We are not privy to which group of kids, why they were hypnotizable.) We found out in this section that ALL PAIN IS PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL AND ALL PAIN IS EXPERIENCED AND MODULATED IN THE which my child told me to write bull crap beside this, so I am. Chronic pain leads to frustration, and mental distress makes pain worse. Patients with RA are shown taking part in a mindfulness meditation breathing training technique which will help lessen fear and anxiety. Relaxation techniques for pain include meditation, yoga excercise and prayer. Some people may just want to read a book or lie on the beach. Not every way works for everyone, and even each individual has ways that work better than others at different times in their life. (All the bases are covered if things don't work out). When Tammy, the pregnant lady, hits a low spot, this is seen as To Be Expected.

I will sign off now, I am only on page four and it is an hour after I started. AAACK!!


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