Healthcare Takes a Village

24B59E4700000578-0-image-a-104_1421304360341While I sat waiting for a medical test to be completed – one of those appointments when you show up fasting, blow into a tube, sit and wait twenty minutes and do it all over again for several hours. Obviously, I had plenty of time and I was really hungry.  Any and all distractions were welcome. That was the same day I listened to the pharmacist on Rachael Ray encourage folks to ask their pharmacist any questions they might have about their prescription – definitely a worthwhile distraction. (See my previous blog post– “Do you have any  questions for the pharmacist?” (

After watching Rachael Ray with still hours left to the test, I began looking around at the artwork posted on the walls.  One print caught my eye –   the unmistakable, gothic Duke University Chapel Tower.  Looking closer I realized it was not simply a print of the famous tower, but actually a photo filled with tiny images of people. Why were they in the photo?   All of those photographed contribute to our health care  –  Doctors, nurses, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, social workers, billing and insurance experts, receptionists, massage therapists, occupational therapists, chiropractors, podiatrists, nurses aides, pharmacists, pharmacy techs, phlebotomists, x-ray/ MRI/CT techs, complementary medicine specialists, acupuncturists, nutritionists/dietiticans, food prep people and pulmonary therapists. I know I’ve let some people out.

I’m sorry I can’t remember all those professionals who are essential participants in our quest for good health, although I know you get my point. In order for us to secure the best traditional and complementary medical care throughout our lives, we need talented, smart, open minded and caring professionals who work in tandem. Like the well oiled machine often referred to, your engine/your body works most efficiently with each part fully supported and maintained by those who know their speciaized stuff. It’s our job as educated, empowered patients to learn more about our healthcare options, to speak with our healthcare team and suggest potential, complementary treatments, if they’ve not been offered to us.   I know my meditation practice – a more Eastern approach – helps me regularly when I need to quiet down my very busy brain – which is pretty darn often!  No drugs necessary – simply breath work I’ve been accessing for decades.

My good friend, Jose, learned from his orthopedist to consider less traditional medicine.  He had been treated for an aching back with several conventional modalities.  Nothing seemed to work.  Jose still got around, but moved hesitantly like someone with a bad back does.  His doctor suggested he try acupunture and massage.  As the French would say, “Voila!”  Relief.  Not a brand new back, but one he could work with.  Kudos to his orthopedist for being aware of and open to other treatments that were in the best interest of his patient.

The onus for you, me and every patient is to assemble our own medical “tower” comprised of the best team of practitioners possible.  The more skilled they are, and equally, if not more important, is their choice to communicate with one another and their willingness to consider alternative treatment modalities as necessary.  It’s an essential element of excellent healthcare. And, no one healthcare practitioner, smart as they may be, has all the answers.

If your  practitioner is unwilling to be part of that team approach, it may be time to consider taking them out of the picture.  Allowing for a new and different focus can open up a whole host of possibilities yielding improved health and every day function for you.  Considering a variety of options strengthens your foundation as an empowered patient.  Isn’t that what we’re all seeking anyhow?

Of course, before you search out these non-traditional options, it’s always best to check with your doc first and then have a discussion you’ve prepared for.

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