This post is from my new friend Jessi who writes at LifeWithJack.com.
If anything made me a true believer in modern medicine, it was having a preemie. The simple fact is if Jack had been born 20 years ago, he would not be alive. Modern medicine saved my life and his in every way possible.
See all these pages? It’s some of the record of his extraordinary care.
Each page describes the procedures, medicine, and care instructions for our boy’s 115 day NICU stay. The very marvels of modern medicine that allowed him to survive are contained therein. It represents the decades upon decades of painstaking research to understand things like TPN, surfactant, IVH, NEC, Apnea, Bradycardia, BPD… and that is just scratching the initial surface.
Of course Jack has been out of the NICU for over four years now, but his medical care continues and our life in and out of hospital walls is just something we have to deal with… because it is how our boy lives, whether we like it or not. His chronic conditions – hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy – require an incredible amount of intervention and they are not going away. So, yeah, you bet I am thanking God for every, single advancement in the field of medicine. For the things that keep him alive and for the new and promising treatments on the horizon.
Unfortunately, I have seen some alarming trends taking place within our privileged American society, the very society that used to be a beacon of medical hope for so many. Instead of embracing and promoting the advancement and treatment of conditions like cerebral palsy with traditional medicine (think clinical trial and FDA approval), I see some jumping on a different bandwagon. Peddlers touting a cure by diet. People clamoring that babies not get vaccinated. Those claiming “cure-alls” with things like scented oils.
The sad thing? We are so desperate for these “cures” that some of us are giving up on modern medicine for a quick fix. We are buying into 21st century snake oil propaganda.
Friends, I know preemie parent desperation. I know the feeling that we would give anything, pay anything, for a cure for our child. For the chance at a better life.
But I know desperation is no place to make an informed decision about such life and death matters. I hear the same story from my readers, from my friends. Their child has some sort of condition, and people scream out “No! Don’t take that over-the-counter med! All-natural is best!” Not only are these statements the epitome of a guilt trip, it is the opposite of safe advice. All-natural is great for minor illnesses, but we are not messing around here. There is nothing about Jack that I would put in the “minor” category. His life is at stake.
What a tricky world we have to navigate as preemie parents.
I know what it is like to blog about your child not eating and then find an in-box full of messages from well-meaning people about nutritional supplements. You go to any of these websites and they are touted as the end-all to every.single.ailment.known.to.mankind. I know what it is like to see my internet pages peppered with CP related advertisements about super secret treatments. I have gotten messages about “clinics” in South America and somehow they are the only place in the entire world with the magic pill! And then the next week, I see a report on these shady “doctors” getting wealthy off of gullible and desperate parents. There is a whole underground industry of these folks preying on the vulnerable.
I have learned to be vigilant. Please don’t buy into the quick fix. Please don’t disregard decades of scientific research for a fad. Being vigilant and trusting our primary doctor has been the only way to make it through without either hurting our child, or going bankrupt.
While I do believe that a prescription isn’t always the answer, I have never given up on modern medicine. I see a chiropractor, my kids aren’t vaccinated, but as soon as my daughter had a cyst pop up in her neck, I went straight to the doctor with her. Three surgeries later, part of a bone removed from her neck, and she is fine. I think everything has it’s place, and I don’t believe in a quick fix for anything. I think it’s important that we all weigh our decisions based on what we believe and what is important to us, and let each other do the same without shoving things down each others throats.
I see a chiropractor too. He was able to help my headaches when nothing else came close. I agree, I think it’s important to weigh all the options and be kind with those who come to a different decision than you do.
Shannon Schmid says
I absolutely agree, its so important to look at all our options. Quick fixes can not only waste valuable time in solving a health problem but can also cause harm in some circumstances. Research is so important, you cant just believe what you read, and take it as the truth.
I’m a big fan of modern medicine when it’s necessary. Just not a fan of running to the doctor for every sniffle. Synergy between modern and alternative practices is a good thing!
Mamas Story says
This is taking an extreme situation and throws out the baby with the bathwater. She goes too far calling natural remedies “snake oil”. maybe when you get to a place where WESTERN medicine fails you (as there are other types of “modern” medicine), you will have a more gracious spirit toward those who participate in natural healing.
Chelle W says
My opinion… we as man are not meant to live forever, technology and advancement has allowed for many of us to live longer then we are probably suppose to. I truly believe that a lot of the medical issues we face such as cancer, is found faster and is more noticeable due to the toxins in our environment that we continue as man to create and pollute. Using natural remedies should always be done first. We do it in our house and if after a preset time nothing gets better then yes we seek medical help. But again I don’t think any of us are meant to live this long on Earth and sometimes using medicine is just prolonging the inevitable. There needs to be an even medium on both sides and mutual respect instead of jumping on or off any bandwagon.
I am a big believer in modern medicine too. I hardly ever go to the dr. and will only bring my kids in when required but I’m completely for vaccines and going to see a Dr. I don’t always believe that natural is better. I don’t always believe that natural always means natural either….
Jennifer H says
I’m in the middle when it comes to this. For kids, I have an issue with prescription stuff, but for us adults who can make our own decisions I feel to each their own.
Kimberly Grabinski says
I don’t believe that healing with diet and using essential oils is a quick fix necessarily. Nor do I think they are fads in the right situation. I believe there can and should be a marriage between PREVENTION and MEDICINE. I believe the scales need to be balanced by the severity of the problem and potential to find a cure as opposed to simply place a band-aid on it.
Clearly there is a need for the amazing advances we have made in medical science but we can’t use these advances as an excuse for poor diet and imbibing chemicals simply to reduce symptoms. Especially when food and other natural things CAN heal some of our modern ailments by preventing them altogether and they can relieve symptoms naturally.
Despite our medical advances the health of our nation is in peril – we have diseases we have never had before. Putting down the Nyquil and picking up Apple Cider Vinegar when you have a cold may actually help your quality of life. But there are obviously more serious scenarios where intervention is needed.
Changing your lifestyle is far from a quick fix and it can help improve your overall health. But it’s not a substitute when there is an immediate threat on a life.
When I get a headache I have 2 options – a capsule full of chemistry or a peppermint oil on my temples. Both of them work for me so I choose the peppermint oil because it is a natural solution to my problem. If said headache was a brain tumor, that would change things. I’d be at my doctor’s office in a heartbeat asking what my options are.
I really think the bottom line is that most people just want to help. We all want what is best for our kids and if someone cares about you they want the best for your kids as well. But what happens with people is that they get all judgy and point fingers and make you feel like you need to take the defensive over the decisions and choices you made. And yes, there are many, many “medicine men” out there peddling junk.
You do need to be vigilant. Trust your instincts. Read the labels. But sometimes people can’t trust their doctors. Sometimes things are outside the realm of modern medicine. Sometimes you have to look at alternatives because your doctor can’t find a solution. Sometimes those alternatives actually work.
Every situation is different and it’s hard enough being a parent, when we add medical issues on top of it, it’s a downright scary thing.
Very well said! Sometimes doctors don’t always have the answers, like in the instance with my headaches. After two years of doctor visits, oils (I’m glad peppermint oil worked for you though!!) and numerous other home remedies I finally tried a chiropractor and the relief was immediate. I believe, like you do, that prevention is always the best and natural remedies like honey, vinegar, and the like have their place as a substitute for over the counter drugs. When you can find relief for the common cold with something natural, why not? However, what concerns me with the rise of popular all-natural remedies is when they cross over into treating life-threatening issues. I think we agree I’m just adding to what you said. Thanks for commenting!
Lemon Lime Adventures says
I think what is important here is for everyone to be respectful of each other’s decisions. In the end we do what we feel is best for ourselves and our family. For me, we try most natural and alternative means possible. For Jack, he obviously needed technology, medicine and modern science. Thank you for sharing this story. I do hope that you will see that those of us that choose natural remedies are not against those that need modern medicine.
Digna Dreibelbis says
A very touchy subject. I can see both sides of what people might say. You read, quite often, how people don’t allow their children to be treated with modern day medicine for religious beliefs and how they suffer. For grown ups though, if they make the decision to avoid modern day medicine, to each their own.
I don’t take any prescription (and rarely over-the-counter) medications… however, I would not have any problem with modern medicine if the need was to ever arise. As for my son, I would want to research it well to make an informed decision regarding medications for him. I do see both sides on this matter, though.
Marla Z says
I’m so thankful those options were available for your son. I prefer natural medicines until more serious medical intervention is necessary, which is totally a case by case basis. I think the most important part is to keep an open mind on how to get the person 100% healthy.
Jen J. says
I’m an equal opportunity sick person. If it works, that’s what I want, whether it’s modern medicine or natural alternatives.
Cat Davis says
I try to fix things on my own at home first but if that fails, I trust in modern medicine.
Melissa Au says
I am very much a fan of a mixture of both. They each work at different times for us.
Shell Feis says
I definitely think that sometimes natural things DO work, but I very much rely on modern medicine as well. My son was just in the NICU for 5 days last month & neither of us would have survived his birth without modern medicine.
I don’t know anything other than modern medicine. I’ve never done the “natural healing” thing. But w/out it I think I would have lost my son a long time ago when he became so sick he needed to be hospitalized. Sad times man. Glad modern tech & medicine was there to make him better.
I am all about whatever works. I just want to feel better and will go with whatever accomplishes that.