This might be a controversial post. And while I don’t plan to offend anybody, I do plan to be brutally honest and speak the truth so be prepared for that.
Having conversations with your Doctor(s) is imperative to getting the outcomes you want, using the treatment methods you want. Not all doctors are created equal. I’ve had some really lousy, dismissive doctors and some really engaging and open-minded ones. And let me speak frankly; it’s not easy to find a good doctor!
The majority of doctors I’ve dealt with want to find a quick solution to their patient’s problem. Sadly, 95% of the time it comes in the form of a pill. In a world where Allopathic Medicine rules and has monopolized the health insurance industry, those of us looking for more comprehensive natural approaches are left trying to piece things together alone. I am not against medicine- there are a great deal of people that have been helped by medicine. I am however, against prescription medicine being the first and often ONLY treatment offered.
Last week I took my 3rd daughter to her Psychiatrist. For the time being she is on two low dose meds for her ADHD and ODD management. In her case, she had spun so far out of control and was depressed when she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, and this was the only way she could function normally. We had already been involved with alternatives for years including diet modification and behavior modification therapies. But ultimately it is my goal to ween her from these medicines, replacing them with natural supplements that allow for better focus, calm mind, proper sleep, and mood management. Her behaviors, at times, have been pretty extreme.
This particular psychiatrist is fairly open minded and good with my daughter. When I told her my goal is to remove my daughter from the medications eventually, she agreed it is definitely a possibility since she is on the lowest dose possible. That was incredibly refreshing; a sigh of relief. It gave me hope and validated what I already believed all along. I have been dripping content on her behavioral therapist left and right. So I came with a stack of paperwork this last week to share with her Psychiatrist, which included an Alternative Medicine Review of the benefits of natural GABA and the 7 types of ADHD Dr. Amen has identified and the vast differences in treatment he uses. She was receptive and had not heard of Dr. Amen, nor was she aware of the other sub-types of ADHD. Since many parents go through a plethora of medications until they find something that works, I thought this was worth reviewing. To my disappointment, we live in one of the Top 15 cities in the United States and the SPECT brain scan (which is used to identify which type of ADHD a child has) is not being used by the doctors here.
I never thought I would put any child of mine on prescription drugs. But after removing diet ingredients, using behavioral modification therapy, and trying different parenting techniques my daughter was so out of control. And this is where I have to get real and raw. There are two sides of the fence to parents dealing with disorders like Autism, ODD, ADHD, Bipolar and more. The pro-medication side, and the anti-medication side. While I agree that too many are quick to take the pills to make their child fit inside the public school system box, The only side of the fence I am on, is the awareness side. If as parents we are doing our own research outside of what a doctor recommends, I suspect we would reduce the treatment curve and have happier functioning kids in less time. Leaving any of these disorders untreated can cause major devastation and have lifelong consequences. Treatment does not always include medicine, but I’ll be honest- sometimes it’s completely necessary for a person to function just in daily life. Allopathic Medicine has a loooong way to go in terms of going outside of their narrow-minded education. But that’s a battle for another post, so let me address what the “awareness side” means. As parents of children with mental and neurological disorders, we need to stand united in:
- Eliminating judgement and ignorance through education, and raise awareness with peers, teachers, and doctors
- Demanding more comprehensive well-rounded approaches to treating our children (which may include medication as a part of treatment)
- Looking at how we can set our children up for success in the long term (physically, emotionally, educationally, and financially)
I see so much judgement from society, teachers, as well as from other parents about what we should be doing with our kids. A great deal of those judgements come from insiders- others who have emotionally and behaviorally challenged kids. And this bothers me a lot. First, there are many contributing factors to each child’s behavioral challenges, and secondly there are varying degrees! A child who has inattention and distract-ability problems has a different set of issues and therefore coping skills than a child with frequent explosive temper tantrums. While I don’t like medication, when all other means have been exhausted sometimes it’s necessary for a season until your child matures and learns modified coping skills through behavioral therapy. Every child is different, every parenting situation is different (there are a LOT of single working parents dealing with these issues), and let’s not forget that not everyone has access to the same tools or cutting edge medical care. Some medicate, some don’t. Some research, some just take whatever their Doctor says as truth. If you don’t have adequate information how can you make an informed decision? And this is why the only side I’m picking is awareness.
We need a better medical system. One where the doctors aren’t so biased and actually want to find a cure for disease, not prescribe a pill to fix the symptoms. A system that employs doctors to not just diagnose and prescribe, but ask why and includes elimination diets rich in raw foods, amino acids and vitamins, and herbal supplements. But until that happens we will have to unite, stop judging one another, and start educating our doctors. Since I have had good interactions with this psychiatrist, I will continue to share information- not just for my daughter’s benefit, but for her other patients as well.
Allopathic doctors do not study plants or herbs, and know absolutely nothing about their power to cure various ailments. They study how to identify and diagnose disease in the body and what types of prescription drugs can be used to treat the symptoms. Doctors who are condescending or degrade me for having my own research-formed opinions, get fired. And that’s the way it should be. This is your child, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for all children. He or she is an individual and you have the right to decide what’s in their best interest. I question all things; and you should too. If I had not followed my gut and gone against status quo, she would not be where she is today. She would be taking double or triple the dose of her current meds and zombied out. Because that’s what they wanted. They didn’t really take the time to tease out what was ODD or ADHD and what were environmental influences such as being recently diagnosed with a lifetime disease- Type 1 Diabetes. Medical care is not fool proof….nothing is.
That being said, there are definitely ways to educate your doctor without being ‘in your face.’ What you should really be looking for in terms of a good doctor, is their ability to listen and be open minded. I have had some luck with D.O’s (Medical Doctor of Osteopathy) as they have a tendency to lean a little more towards a natural approach. At the end of the day, a Doctor’s business is people. And if your people skills suck, you will (and should) lose business. One of the most important lessons I have learned is to walk in prepared with what your plan is. I don’t approach things I want to do with a permission-seeking-question anymore, but rather a statement of ‘here’s what I’m going to be giving little johnny’ do you see any reason why I should not move forward with that? I lost *years* floating around in the system with that approach.
Here are a few tips when it comes to educating your doctor about your desired treatment path:
- Be respectful in representing your opinions, but be firm in what you are moving forward with
- Provide a written outline of what you would like your child’s treatment plan to look like (ie: physical exercise frequency/time, diet, social activities, behavioral therapy, IEP for school, medication, etc.)
- Bring a list of supplements, vitamins and herbs you are starting your child on (ask a pharmacist to review and tell you of any potential reactions with meds)
- If you are doing an elimination diet provide that information along with any benefits you’ve seen from that
- Provide your doctor with documentation of studies or research that show benefits for your treatment plan (ie: supplement benefits, new or alternative research on your child’s disorder, or anything else you think is relevant)
- Request regular blood work to measure treatment progress (such as vitamin D absorption levels, etc.)
- Thank your doctor for their time and willingness to work WITH you on solving your child’s problem
I would love to hear from you below if this has helped you in navigating the waters and educating your doctors! Please share your story 🙂