When Western Medicine Fails

Last month, my doctor told me, “Western medicine has failed you.”

But, I don’t buy it.

I can’t believe that in this day and age, western medicine failed me. It is not over yet. I’ve been to many specialists over the past six months. Each of which may have a piece of the puzzle, but none are willing to commit. Each one shakes my hand, shakes his head, and says, “I’m sorry I can’t help”. Off to another specialist.

I never knew what a struggle it would be to get a diagnosis–and, for that matter, what a struggle it would be to get treatment for debilitating symptoms. As a nurse, I thought I might have an easier time navigating the system–and I’m amazed that after 7 months, I still can’t figure it out.

I read an article recently about a woman who was sick for 10 years before she got a full diagnosis. I feel like I could have written that article. It was so similar to my story. I couldn’t help but wonder how many doctors told her western medicine had failed her.

On the bright side, I finally feel like I’ve fallen into the hands of the right specialists. My cardiologist is a life saver. He assures me that we will get to the bottom of it–and if we don’t, he is here in hunt until I make progress. A new neurologist who may have found an autoimmune disorder that explains all my symptoms from the past 7 months. And an endocrinologist who is willing to help as well.

And so I press on. Because I know western medicine has not failed me yet. All it takes is the right test, the right doctor, and a little patience.


6 Comments on “When Western Medicine Fails

  1. Hi Sarahbeth,

    I’ve had a similiar experience. Finally after several years of racing heartbeats, fainting, aniexity attacks, depression. add to that incredibily high blood Calcium Levels, Kidney Stones often, infertility problems, more Kidney stones and the rest I was diagnosed with a Endocrine Disorder called Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia. For info on Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN) please go to http://www.amensupport.org MEN is a endocrine disorder that affects the Parathyroids, Pituitary Gland and the Pancreas. Onced properly diagnosed my healthcare demanded even more of my time an energy. I did get pregnant and had healthy now 25 yo boys. However my docs were always telling me how healthy I was because my blood and urine Calcium levels were so high (above 10).

    You can go to http://www.amensupport.org to read the rest of the story. I have been following you on the Mayo Clinic Website and wanted to tell you that if I never went to MAYO CLINIC I would not be alive today. MEN produces hormone secreating tumors that wreck havic with their over production of the hormones that they are suppose in small amts. to keep our body in tune.

    I too ended up at Mayo Clinic because of mistakes from professional and rated very highly Endocrinologist and Surgeons in the Tn. that I live. After undergoing the full open heart surgical procedure to remove a tumor on my heart was unsuccessful. After 4 wks. of recovery from this procedure the Endocrinologist called me and my hubby into his office and told us the devastating news that this surgical procedure was a failure and they had only removed lymph nodes, and the tumor was indeed still on my heart.

    Thank GOD for Sweet Hubby as he asked the question “Where do we go from here?” The answer the Endocrinologist said “You go to Mayo Clinic, and I will make all those arrangements.”

    After sever surgical procedures and having to have my complete pancreas removed I was told I could not work as a Nurse anymore, as I would be exposed to so many germs, virusis, and bacteria.

    Hence Sweet Hubby came to me one day and suggested that we start a Family Foundation, so we could help others with the same disease. He said he was confident that I could not only start this nonprofit organization, but had done alot of fundraising locally so I had to now shift my focus from nursing in a way I was used to doing and focus on educating Families with MEN.

    We went to Mayo Clinic with thoughts of how can we help people get diagnosed sooner in the development of MEN. David Farley, MD., the Endocrine Department and Sweet Hubby and myself sat down and had a discussion about starting a nonprofit for MEN. They were very encouraging of our efforts.

    We got the approval of Mayo Clinic that they would help (not monitarily) us to build this nonprofit.

    We are Having our Inaugural Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1 Seminar, in collaboration with Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, MN. next Friday June 22, 2012.

    I will be at Mayo Clinic this Monday, if you are there I’d love to meet with you.

    All information for Seminar and the story of how we came to be on the website http://www.amensupport.org

    AND the purpose of this email is NEVER, NEVER, Stop asking questions and seeking answers for your symptoms.
    I have to admit I am a Mayo Clinic Cheerleader, however there are other great medical systems around the USA that do offer different options and treatment

    The Best Of Health,
    Linda Hageman, RN

  2. Are you also trying other-than-western-medicine? You could do both. Thank you for taking the time to write about your journey.

    • William, I am trying some Eastern medicine. Started with acupuncture. We will see how this round of western treatments go to see how far I will take it with the Eastern approach. Thank you so much for reading and for your response!

  3. Sarah, I might believe in some of what your doctor has said: Western medicine, without its counterpart Oriental medicine, gives me the feeling of a sock that has lost it’s pair. To me, we are all about balance, the ying and yang. I truly believe that puting both arts and sciencies together, we end up with synergism. On the other hand, I believe that the health care system in intself has the power to makes us sick in both an objective and abstract sense. Too much of something or too little of the other, disturbs the balance that is inherit to homeostatis. To make it simple and elementary, too much antibiotics kill your flora, not enough humaness alienates and generalizes you, none of which are healthy states. Most medications come from nature, but many substances are carcinogenics. My point is, don’t discount the healing power of the more organic Oriental medicine approach, you might find some therapy that might really help you.
    You know me, I grew up in the jungle:-), I grew up drinking tea of this or tea of that for my little ailments. I never took ONE antibiotic until I moved to this country (which I love dearly). Before living here, it was either a tea of “whatever specific herb” or homeopathy. Decades after living here, I got REALLY sick…I mean REALLY. I developed severe gastroparesis of unkown etiology, my gut just stopped, I had debilitating nausea and vomiting, could not eat or even drink water without getting really sick. I will spare you of the blah, blah, blah, blah, but to make a long story short, NO doctor could help me. I did the same thing you did, I went to specialist after specialist to no avail, no relief of symptoms and to only add insult to injury. I crossed borders, I went as close as Philadelphia and as far as Canada. No results, no relief as I was getting sicker and sicker….Just the pure fact that nobody could help me, made me even sicker and the medication that did help me, was banned off the market. Two years of that and the whole experience was crushing, those incredibly prestigious instituitions, those highly educated doctors and none of them could or would help, until…..Until I said, “enough of this” and I went back to my Brazilian center of gravity, sought treatment with a homeopathic doctor. I cannot say that homeopathy “cured me”, but it did help me tremendously, improved my quality of life and brought me back to a certain level of emotional and spiritual hemeostatis and that alone, gave me more oxygen for my fight.He told me I should really consider a certain kind of surgery, but that the surgery was controversial and I would have difficulty finding a surgeon who would do it. In the end, I did find a surgeon who agreed to do it and I got the controversial surgery that literally almost killed me, but “fixed” me. It wasn’t one or the other discipline that helped me. It was both. Your answer might not come from Western or Oriental medicine alone. You might need both forces working together in scientific harmony. Short of sacrificing lambs or drinking juice of mashed bat’s eyes,It would not hurt to try.
    I love you and I wish you the best. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help. It would be my honor.

    • Gustava! So good to hear from you!

      I had no idea you went through all that. Wow, what a strong person you are!

      I do think doing both western and eastern treatments would be helpful. I have an acupuncture appointment at the end of this month, actually. I’m looking in to a couple of other things such as gluten free diet–I’ve heard this can actually help nerve pain even if you test negative for Celiacs.

      Anyway, thank you for your reply and your support.

      • Yes, the gluten free diet “thingie” can do wonders for your health and sense of well being, so can acupunture, chiropractice, massage, organic diet…We are a combination of strength and fragility and our personal symphony, must be played with very well tuned instruments: Our bodies, our minds, our hearts.
        Take care Sarah. Don’t hesitate to ask for anything, I’ll be glad to help in whatever way I can, minus doing your windows:-)!
        BTW…for nerve pain, Elavil in low doses….do you remember my other little struggle with my crushed trigeminal nerve??? Well….Elavil 50mg was the only thing that helped after being heavily sedated…. (Low dose tryciclics potentiates neuron action potential, thus the therapeutic effects on nerve pain).

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