This posting has nothing whatsoever to do with marketing or advertising.
It has everything, however, to do with your life.
Over the past few months, an ever-widening circle of friends and family have gotten sick. I come from hardy working-class stock that, in normal circumstances, is pretty stubborn about allowing illness to win. If anyone ever gets sick enough to admit being sick… then they are really friggin’ sick.
This latest bout of God’s most serious reminder that we’re all fragile creatures on a bacterially-hostile planet has nothing to do with age. I have young friends hobbled with problems that used to be reserved for seniors, and older family members catching stuff that once bedeviled only kids.
It sucks. With most other problems, you can sort of call a “time out”… by, for example, declaring bankruptcy to stall off debtor’s prison, or finding another job when yours becomes unbearable, or hiring a detective to gather some info (maybe take a few Polaroids) before you go off the deep end with suspicion.
In business, you can have another meeting.
But with health… there are few time outs. You get something, and that something will pretty much define who you are until you get rid of it. Or it gets rid of you.
The thing is, though… you can’t take your doctor’s word for anything serious.
It should be a no-brainer… but please, if you’re ill, get a second opinion before you do anything drastic.
I’ve seen friends allow unqualified doctors to rip out their prostate — and screw up the operation horribly — without a second opinion. I’ve experienced being slammed with wrong prescriptions (even contraindicated ones) myself — doled out by docs brimming with confidence. I know good people who have been reduced to reluctant couch potatoes because their doctor has given up trying to find out what’s wrong.
I shudder when I think back to my younger days… when the very idea of asking for another doctor’s opinion was disrespectful. The notion existed that health was a matter of simply “looking under the hood”, and finding the “right” course of action.
Like there was only one right course of action in the universe for any given problem. What the doctor said was true… because the doctor said it was true.
People who have never gotten second opinions may be shocked when they finally do. Shocked to discover vast discrepancies in diagnoses… shocked to hear that the medicine they’ve been prescribed is killing them… shocked to discover that many doctors simply don’t know what to look for when looking under your hood.
The world seemed safer before. The doctor knew the magic. He would divine what ailed you, and give you potions that cured everything.
It was happy voodoo.
And, in many cases, complete and utter malpractice.
Look — just insist on a second opinion before agreeing to anything, all right? Check out the feisty www.wrongdiagnoses.com, too… and the more doc-friendly www.webmd.com… and when you’re really ready to go deep, the Harvard medical school sites.
Your body isn’t a car, and when your health goes sideways, there is almost never an easy solution. Some illnesses are symptoms of deeper problems.
And remember: The big pharmaceutical companies took over the teaching hospitals a long time ago. Doctors are trained, now, to prescribe cures rather than look for organic ways to treat anything.
I’m not playing doctor here. When I get seriously sick, I head for the guy with the stethoscope, just like everyone else. I just augment everything with Eastern medical wisdom, common-sense health store additives… and second opinions.
If you’re one of those people “who never gets sick”, good for you. I hope you stay that way until the night you die peacefully in your sleep at a ripe old age.
For the rest of us… sometimes illness just happens. This is not the time for stubborn beligerence and denial.
It’s time to get hip, and get real.
We are, indeed, hearty but ultimately fragile little beings in a cold, cruel universe. Our best tool for suvival is information. Good information.
For any medical professionals reading this… I wasn’t referring to you.
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