Medical Advice From Dummies

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Okay, I am not calling any specific person a dummy. (Well, I might be doing that, however that is totally not the point.)

I am noticing an alarming increase in the number of internet experts in the world, and in our conspiracy theory soaked culture, we are at the mercy of every armchair diagnostician who cares to impart their great wisdom and prescription for health.

Okay folks, give me a break. I am so tired of reading people’s swill. All of these self-appointed experts who have “done my research,” are actually perpetuating a cycle of misinformed self-righteousness. The exact thing that they accuse the medical establishment of doing.

This article was sitting quite proudly on my Facebook newsfeed, and caused me to waste two hours reading the comments and trying to figure out what on earth all these people were applauding. She was quoting old sources, and most were not from peer-reviewed journals. (I cannot believe I am linking this to my blog- THIS IS NOT ACCURATE- PLEASE, DO NOT USE THIS AS MEDICAL ADVICE- OR EDUCATION!)

As healthcare providers, we seek to provide safe, effective, and accessible healthcare. Evidence Based Medicine means that your doctor is adding to their knowledge base with continuing education, in order to take the best care of you and your family. They collect information about you (the patient) and use those findings to seek answers.They also understand the difference between correlation and causation.

Social media is a dangerous place for sick people. I see things that make me cringe every day. Just look at your newsfeed and read the comments. I feel certain that you have seen this scenario. Someone posts that they have been diagnosed with cancer. Immediately, there are a plethora of well-meaning supporters.

  • You can fight this!
  • Stay strong.
  • My cousin’s aunt had a friend’s husband’s cousin had that EXACT cancer, she beat it by eating the placenta of a virgin. Or some other equally absurd “cure.”
  • Take this vitamin,I do. I did not get cancer.
  • Go to Mexico and get peach pits- they are proven to cure cancer. The FDA wants to hide the cure, so they can sell you chemotherapy.
  • Ignore that doctor, you can beat this if you try hard enough. No one dies from cancer.
  • Read this website- prayer cures everything!
  • Your flu vaccine gave you cancer.
  • Eat organic vegetables. No meat- vegetarians don’t get cancer.
  • Avoid gluten, it gives you cancer.

The offensive thing about all this well- intentioned advice is that apparently, there have been a lot of patients out there who had crappy doctors. They were not treating as a whole person, and their doctor LIED to them! Hid cures! They have been getting money under the table for years! They want you to be sick! Then, they have something to treat! Give me a break. Do people seriously continue seeing doctors who they think that little of?

Most people use anecdotal evidence as their go to for sharing what they understand about a disease. Imagine sitting in a doctor’s office and being told you have cancer. Are you still comprehending everything that comes out of the physicians’ mouth? When you try to tell people about the diagnosis, can you remember everything he said? Probably not. So, what do you do? You go home and google. (I go home and google too. It does not make you a bad person.)

Here is an interesting piece about anecdotal medicine that I think nicely sums up the fallacies of these experiences. Every situation is unique, and it is dangerous to assume that one person’s story of a cure is applicable to you, or even accurate. I hear people say all the time that such and such or so and so saved them. Great! I am so happy you found something that worked for you. That does not mean that it will work for everyone. 

Now that I have expressed some of my opinions about internet medicine… What about the asshats who try to influence you and your medical decisions?

 

I have ADHD. I was not diagnosed as a child, and have a complicated educational background as a direct result of no treatment. Now, I am a Nurse Practitioner with an excellent college track record. My son, who is so very much like me, was diagnosed earlier. We knew what to look for. We are not on the same treatment. What worked for me, did not work as well for him.There is no miracle solution, and we have had to utilize tools including medication and dietary changes along with behavior modification.

There are asshats (this dude is a huge asshat, he also dismisses celiac sprue as fake, and I feel certain he is an expert) who judges me for my choices regarding my family’s medical care. They did their research! ADHD is Bullshit! ADHD is invented by pharmaceutical companies because they don’t want to cure cancer or AIDS. My only problem is that I am lazy. Don’t worry, I am sure they will loan me their tinfoil hat. It’s exasperating. If only I were a better mother, I would have sought their advice prior to seeking a professional. Obviously, I failed to google the disorder.

The stigmatization of seeking medical care has become rampant in our holistic- organic- supplement inhaling- DIY- self made man society. (I do believe there is a role for complementary medicine, however it should not replace sound medical advice.)

Frankly, it is none of your damned business. It is a private matter, and it should be left to the patient and their medical team to evaluate. There are a multitude of factors that must be considered, and a proper risk- benefit analysis should be performed. In other words, are the potential benefits worth the potential risk? This should include any treatment options vs. not treating.

As a reasonable, responsible, and rational person you have an obligation to be an informed consumer. This is contingent your ability to discern the validity of your sources. If you honestly believe that your healthcare team is corrupt and seeking to harm you, then you have an obligation to seek care elsewhere. If you feel that your provider is inept, you need a new healthcare provider. It is not rocket science.

Do not use the guy down the street who once knew someone who had a friend who ___ (fill in the blank.) Find a professional.

Here are some tips (mostly for the guy down the street) for offering medical advice:

  1. Just Don’t. (They need to choose a medical professional and seek their advice.)
  2. Tell long stories about how you know exactly what they need to do.
  3. Offer the website for the new miracle cure.
  4. Invite them to your prayer circle because you have provided many cures.
  5. Judge their lifestyle choices and condemn their morality.
  6. Gossip about others personal medical condition, and create an action plan for intervention. They really do need your help, they just don’t know it yet.
  7. Actually, just go back to #1 unless you are an expert (actually, a real life medical professional whose opinion was sought)

Come on people, stop being ridiculous. Stop sharing misinformation. Above all, stop assuming you are an expert because you read something on Wikipedia, Web-MD, some blog, or Fox News. Give me a break.

25 thoughts on “Medical Advice From Dummies

  1. Shamefully Honest Ocelot

    I found the anti-vaccination article interesting…until she commented that there shouldn’t be a problem looking at medical issues with multiple foundations. (I.E. more than science). That’s all fine and good, except I need my medical decisions founded on science.

    I look at vaccinations as a statistics game. There is never 100% anything and my family could be unfortunate enough to experience one of the 2% or .05% or whatever complications. But the benefits of following the scientific process (not to mention the odds) make the risk not only worth it, but necessary.

    Now, I am generally one to avoid medication as much as I can. I don’t pop pills willy-nilly and I’d rather sit out a bug than go to the doctor. I don’t get the annual flu shot because that’s a game of prediction rather than an out right preventative and, surprise, very rarely have I ended up with the flu!

    Are we over vaccinated? Maybe. And if I ever have the opportunity for kids, I’ll probably read more into them. I don’t trust all medical professionals implicitly because I’ve met dumb doctors. Is there a conspiracy with pharmaceutical companies to make more money rather than solve the outrageous diseases in existence? The world has taught me that this is certainly possible. I have met entire facets of businesses whose job is theoretically to help people but they end up focusing more on the bottom dollar than realistic and necessary improvements on lives.

    Science though, that’s my black and white. I chose to rely on science.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do not contend that all healthcare providers have the best intentions, or that they are all good at what they do, however if you don’t trust your doctor enough to seek their guidance, you should change providers. They are not going to be able to help you.
      As far as the business side of things- yes it is difficult to balance the necessity of making enough money, and spending what is necessary. It all comes down to appropriate utilization of resources.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Shamefully Honest Ocelot

        I have encountered evidence of malicious avoidance in order to make more money, within legal loopholes but unethical none-the-less. This is a core piece to why I’m leaving my current job, as you well know. It may have started as “balancing budget and appropriation of resources” but somewhere along the road it derailed. But that’s a digression not related to your blog post.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I get it- (digressions don’t bother me). I struggle with proper utilization of resources and appropriateness of interventions frequently. I read a lot on the subject- and all I have managed to do, is muddy the waters even more! It is a journey I am on- I can’t wait to see what clarity looks like.

        Like

      • Shamefully Honest Ocelot

        Clarity is the illusion of comprehension due to unseen variables. Consider that maybe we can glimpse into comprehension but never fully achieve clarity because we are simply incapable of holding every variable in our scale of knowledge at once. At least, not until we transcend to a higher level of thought (most likely by way of mastering 4th dimensional physics and we only theorize on that).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Shamefully Honest Ocelot

        That depends on how you’re defining love. I don’t see why the scientific version of love and how we comprehend love cannot be intertwined. Of course, I’m not adding a religious or necessarily spiritual element to it.

        In my “clarity” love is accepting someone for who they are, desiring to be with them (a bit of chemistry in the attraction), and being able to overcome the challenges of accepting differences. Yes, it strongly correlates to the basic mating instinct (sexual drive) but I think it’s also a strong coupling instinct and a desire to belong with another and feel safe and secure around them.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I deleted from my post- my thoughts on her blog about the unchristian nature of vaccinations. But, she has done her research! Bleh! She is not using science- she is finding sources that back up her stance, and ignoring the rest of the data.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Brava, Quirkelicious! Well said.

    I also have undiagnosed ADD. Note: I am currently on a 10-minute downtime from a paper I’m rewriting for work. At 10:30 at night. Like i said, ADD. Both kids have ADD. Ritalin has been a BOON for them. It has totally helped them in school, and out of school they don’t need it.

    Do not even get me started on the fallacy of the anti-vaxxer movement. If you leave aside the scientific evidence that their claims are utterly bogus, and based on a falsified report that has been disproven time and time again, not to mention the Ocelot’s very valid point above me that “the benefits of following the scientific process (not to mention the odds) make the risk not only worth it, but necessary”, let’s just think about the foolishness and selfishness of those who do not vaccinate, and leave everyone else open to measles, mumps and god alone knows what else. Nothing makes me more bitey. Nothing. Grrrr.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have been struggling to write an intelligent argument about vaccinations, however it tends to come out all angsty and not conducive to my point. I am lucky- I was diagnosed my first semester in college, and was able to learn coping mechanisms, that along with medication- allowed me to be successful as a student and in my career.
      My dear friend, the Ocelot always makes very considerate comments, that make me think. I feel like we have downplayed the importance of pretest probability and risk-benefit analysis in healthcare today.
      People want a cure dammit! And they want it last week. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. I assure you, when I go to work- all I want is to fix your issue, and let you get on with the art of living well. I will do everything in my power to facilitate healing. But, please- don’t quote Fox News to me. Please.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I agree–the medical misinformation out there is scary. As healthcare professionals, we try to stay ahead of it, but with the Internet, that is impossible. It’s always surprising to see what patients have printed off and brought into the office with them.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Much appreciated. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Faux news indeed and this is just a short version of what I have to say, but vegetarians do get cancer and gossiping is absolutely the way people treat other people’s issues. The best part of this essay was the sentence, “Don’t do it.” I love that. I wish people would not do that all of that more often. x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Adrienne

    Ugh, that measles article pisses me off. “Measles cures cancer! I’d expose my cancer riddled child to measles and he would be cured! (More likely, dead) Big Pharma wants you vaccinated because money. Their vaccines will give you cancer so they can make MORE money from giving you chemo.”

    Or how ’bout the “why should my child have to live in a bubble because he is a risk to your cancer kid?” (More like a risk the public) “my crotchfruit is a special little snowflake and I don’t have to consider the safety of the public while raising my perfect, uncontaminated, super genius. The MMR vaccine has not ever been proven safe. Ethics be damned! I want a double blind placebo controlled trial that still won’t convince me. I’m not going to subject my child to a medical procedure that carry a risk of death! Those studies that say vaccines are safe have been made up by evil doctors to poison children!”

    “And if you get the MMR vaccine you are 100% going to get encephalitis and pneumonia and die because the government lies about the side effects being rare. They are injecting you with mind controlling robots and monkey cancer and aborted babies! Natural measles infection is only a mild rash and maybe diarrhea. No one dies from it EVER! Now I’m going to quote studies from 1804 that say measles isn’t caused by a virus but by an imbalance in body humors and the cure is leeches.”

    “Don’t believe the guy with PhD in virology and immunology who refutes me with current research. He is just a Big Pharma shill trying to control the sheeple. Believe me, I’m highly educated and know how to use Google. No amount of evidence contrary to my position will ever change my mind.”

    Ok, I think I’m done now. Lol. And some of my rant is barely exaggerated.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! I had to take a lot of that out of my post… I was going to go off on it. I spent hours reading those comments- and was sickened by it! The aborted fetus stuff was ridiculous! Did you see the post on why Christians can’t get vaccines? Supposedly her husband is a physician. Not the kind of doctor I would want to see. They are still quoting the study from the Lancet that has been retracted because it was all made up! Don’t even get me started on correlation vs causation.
      I also deleted a section about Cancer Treatment Centers of America and the controversy regarding their statistics. I deleted it because I really don’t have enough information, and don’t want to get into that argument. Essentially- I just wanted to express my disdain about uneducated people expressing their unsolicited advice from faulty sources.

      Like

      • Adrienne

        I only read one of her other posts, but not the Christian one. And then I read through almost all the comments. One had a fairly civil discussion between two people with differing opinions on vaccines. Then the author started chiming in. She is REALLY adamant that people read the herd immunity paper from 1933. I’d like to see it, but not enough to pay $40. She keeps saying because of 1933 paper, that herd immunity only works for NATURAL infections and pretty much dismisses all other studies on herd immunity done after then. So, no one has learned anything about the immune system since 1933? Even if immunity from vaccines wears off after a while without booster, it still works pretty well for herd immunity. Smallpox is gone. I don’t remember the last time I heard of someone getting polio. Measles was pretty much eradicated from the US at one point. How does she know that the scientists on the more recent studies didn’t take any differences between natural and vaccine immunity into account (I haven’t actually read up on this)? She quotes that 1933 paper as saying her immunity only needs a 68% immunity rate and seems to think the newer studies lie when the give a higher percentage of immunity needed and because she thinks vaccines don’t work at all. The immunity from a natural infection may also wane without frequent exposures. She never considers that as a reason why vaccine immunity might wane. If most people are vaccinated, they aren’t repeatedly exposed She also had a question from a dad about getting his daughters the rubella vaccine since if it is caught during the 1st and early 2nd trimesters, it causes serious problems in the baby. She told him that they need to catch it naturally and it’s rare, so they probably won’t contact it in an eventual pregnancy. I had a big problem with that. I’d sure hope that she would get her kids a tetanus shot if they ever stepped on a rusty nail or something. Tetanus is a horrible disease. Maybe this makes some sense. It’s 2:30 and I’m a bit tired and rambly.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You pointed out an important thing… They only agree with studies that support their stance. Newer evidence that refutes their position is lying or fallible in some way. The evidence must be considered and updated. We do not keep doing things simply because that is the way we have always done it.
        True scientists understand that.

        Like

  6. You are totally right. Many people it seems are hardwired to prefer social media nonsense over medical opinion. The problem almost seems to be that the doctors are professionals and therefore can’t be trusted (this is true conspiracy thinking at work.) Up is down. Black is white. Knowledge is ignorance.
    The medical case is just the tip of the iceberg. Many people are actively hostile to doctors, scientists, professionals of all kinds. I honestly don’t know if we can change those people, just try to limit the amount of harm they can do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Everyone hates lawyers until they want to sue someone…
      The things I hear people say about professionals who are trying to provide a service… Amaze me. Seriously amaze me. They don’t want to listen to anything, unless you are agreeing with them, or prescribing them a pill. It makes me sad.

      Like

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