Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Life In Evolution

My beliefs about good medicine have changed radically during my lifetime. As a small child, I can remember my mother taking me to the doctor for regular checkups. I always hated going to the doctor, but I was raised to believe it was a necessary evil. I was so much a part of this mindset that I took my own children to the doctor for checkups as well.

In college, my major was psychology so I spent some time researching medical studies in order to write some of my papers. I learned all about what was supposed to make studies valid--things like double blinds and actual experiments as opposed to correlational studies. The ability to wade through medical research served me well after my first daughter died of a Group B Strep infection.

When something bad happens, I am the sort of person who wants to understand exactly what happened so that I can figure out a way that it won't happen again. My questions and research led me to a group of parents who had formed an organization to educate other parents about the potential dangers of GBS. In process, I poured over medical research so well that I understood the differences between bacteria and viruses as well as what studies had been done regarding the fight against this potent bacteria. At the time, I still accepted that American medicine had my best interests at heart (and I still believe the vast majority of MD's really are trying to do what is best for the patient based on the knowledge they are given). I became an advocate of testing pregnant women for the bacteria and treating them with antibiotics at delivery if they tested positive.

Although I labored many years under the belief testing and treatment for GBS was the best strategy for combating it, my approach to medicine has again changed over time. Problems I had with my second daughter with depression and bipolar disorder led me to new information and new understandings, including the understanding that the immune system is based largely in the digestive tract and that healthy food plays a large part in keeping a person physically and mentally healthy. As antibiotics kill healthy bacteria as well as bad, they may not be the best way to help an already compromised immune system.

I'll be the first to admit my beliefs about medicine have undergone radical changes over time. Am I upset with myself that I once believed (and advocated) the idea that antibiotics were the way to defeat GBS and infant illness and death? I am not. I was doing my best with the information I had at the time. I was basing this on answers to my questions at the time. As always, there is much more to discover. It is all a process.

Our lives are an evolutionary process. We ask questions, see new information, and believe we have found truth--at least for a while. Then something else happens, causing us to ask new questions and acquire new information. What we have really uncovered is not necessarily absolute truth but a new perspective on it.

We are all works in progress. Be gentle with yourself as you evolve in this lifetime. The answers you find today may change radically as your life experience changes tomorrow. Go with the flow.


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