One Medical Journey – Cry Not for Me

By Dan Coleman

Disclaimer: I do not accept the input of medical professionals without question. Nor do I expect readers to accept mine. The observations made and conclusions drawn are from my own experience. They are not intended to suggest or guarantee that anyone else will have the same experience. More than anything, they are intended as an impetus for each reader to become engaged in their own health care. 

I was initially transported to the nearest hospital where I was observed for some five hours. The decision was made to transport me to a larger hospital that had weekend radiological staff, I purportedly needed. By the time I reached the bigger hospital, the symptoms were so mild the medical staff was unsure I had stroked until the MRI showed the brain impact. During the many hours I lay in the ER bed waiting, my mind flooded with disbelief as I grappled with what I was hearing and how I felt. Here I was one who had been talking about healthy eating since my mid-twenties. How could this be?

I have often joked that, if one is not sick, tired, and irritable when one arrives at a medical facility, the rigors of medical red tape move so slowly that one will most assuredly be all three by the time one leaves.

First, the experiences that had prompted my outreach for medical help. Second, the worried looks and whispers of medical personnel, including EMTs. I felt like they were in on a deep, sensitive secret about me yet were withholding from me its presence and scope. 

Some thirty-one hours after the 911 call, finally admitted, settled into my own bed with the MRI results to confirm what was happening, more intense attitudes began to emerge. I was angry because I felt the health information on which I had long depended had failed me. Strokes happen to the very obese, consumers of excessive sausages and beer, and heavy smokers – not to me. It seems the medical staff believed healing my body would be impossible. The only option was to subsist off a pharmaceutical regimen engineered, at its absolute optimum, to keep a more serious hypertensive or cardiac event at bay. 

Even from the hospital bed, I was concerned that the needed discovery would be too slow in coming. I feared impairment from a second, severe stroke more than the loss of life itself.  There was an inherent risk in my refusal to take the FDA-approved poisons. I was reminded repeatedly that the ischemic stroke, the “warning”, meant that I am more susceptible to a worse event. Holistic approaches have served me well in the past but this one was my most critical. Urgent, it was, because the cause for the hypertension had to be discovered, the blood pressure lowered, and then controlled to prevent a subsequent event. 

I was eventually informed that the cause for the light stroke in all probability had, in part at least, to do with hypertension brought on by salt levels and inactivity. Astounding news that was, considering my reluctance to add table salt or even prepare meals with it. I had long made a conscientious effort to avoid excessively salted food. I was terrified that I had stumbled into a long, unknown tunnel with no end in sight.   

Pharmaceuticals are not invariably faster, though they often are. Since holistic measures, in my experience, work more comprehensively in that they work to heal the whole rather than patching an isolated issue, they can be slower.  For non-emergent incidents, slow is not a concern. For emergent issues, however, slow in the face of little holistic clinical trial statistical support can be unnerving. 

I am reminded of a professional truth learned in a required fraud investigations course.  A business enterprise can almost never perpetually nor entirely inoculate itself against possible fraud losses. Its most effective defense is to identify possible avenues for losses and manage them according to level of risk. In the very same way, pharmaceuticals–with their clinical trial statistical support in probability for success or failure–are not a guaranteed inoculation against a more serious event. They, like holistic alternatives, are a management of the risks. 

For me, the joint pain from the onset of a gout episode, for example, can be treated with two ibuprofen or with a cup of celery seed tea. The drug will stop the pain quickly while leaving me with a headache, an explosive emptying of the bowels, or feeling like I have been chewing copper wiring. Conversely, the tea has to be strained of the seeds yet eases the pain with no side effects but takes longer to work its magic. Right or wrong is rarely the optimal question. The risk versus benefit ratio is. 

Waves of emotion surged as I found myself confronting my approach to medical issues and a healthcare system that, for me, raised as many questions as it answered. And that without a library of precedents though I habitually turned to holistic remedies. This was the most serious test of holistic medicine I had experienced. 

Another reason for the initial anger and frustration was that I was embarrassed. I had considered myself health-conscious. I suddenly realized, and had to admit, that I had talked more about healthy eating than I had practiced healthy eating. My talk had missed the mark.  

Questions of intelligence and gullibility, hints of a personal death wish or a veiled suicide intent, pleas from family members to not put them in the unenviable position of finding me having stroked fatally in my sleep, all exacerbated the internal struggles; whether I was making the best decisions for me. The questions of selfish treatment of friends and family were just more logs on an already raging fire. 

I definitely felt adrift in a stormy sea of perspectives, input, and choices to be made.  

When in a medical whirlwind, what is your medical anchor?

Stay tuned for the next chapter in this one man’s medical journey.

Published by mindsetofathlete

I am a mental health professional in love with art, of various expressions. My career focuses on understanding health and fitness, acknowledging when a person has become unbalanced in their obligations, and determining the best customized approach for helping clients recover and heal. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, participating in outdoor activities, and exploring cuisines and cultural elements of my environment.

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