I have had the opportunity to consult with thousands of patients over the many years I have been in the practice of integrative medicine. On our first meeting, it becomes obvious to those individuals who consult with me that my approach to their medical issues is in stark contrast to those they have become accustomed to.
My first consult with a patient is at least an hour and a half. The vast majority of those are actually extended to two hours, and sometimes longer. It is not uncommon for a patient to comment that he or she has never had an opportunity to spend that amount of time with the doctor over the course of their entire relationship.
The truth of the matter is that your current doctor is not in control of how he can spend his time. Insurance companies and office management decide that for him and schedule him accordingly. The standard allotment on average, per patient, is about ten minutes and no longer. To orchestrate the flow of patients in such a way that a patient will not throw a wrench into this assembly line, a large staff of nurses, technicians, and nurse practitioners are layered into your office visit to divert the expenditure of energy from the doctor and onto that ancillary staff.
If you see the doctor at all, it will be to briefly allow you to comment on what your chief complaint is at that visit and to receive a prescription given to you by his nurse to alleviate your symptoms of that day as you are escorted out the door within the time that has been predetermined.
Rest assured that if some unanticipated event should alter the flow of patient traffic, there will be a staff meeting to expose the weak link in the system, which usually signals the need to dismiss the employee who cannot keep up the pace. In this system, you cannot ever be rewarded for going above and beyond the call of duty for the benefit of patient care because that additional care takes time, and time is what dictates the success or failure of the system.
In my experience, I have observed that there are essentially three categories of patients that I have the opportunity to manage as a doctor.
Category 1: those patients who elect to pursue alternative medicine by first intention
This group of patients has chosen a course of alternative treatment as their first choice and avoids conventional medical management.
Allow me to share a story I contend is occurring with increasing regularity that will help describe a group of patients that is growing in number every year.
The patient is a fifty-five-year-old male who comes to my office and, after pleasantries are exchanged, begins to talk about his particular medical situation. In a resolute voice, he starts his summary by indicating he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He goes on to say that his preliminary diagnosis was based on a CT scan as well as a PET scan, and tissue will have to be obtained through biopsy in order to confirm that diagnosis.
At that point, he becomes quite definitive on what his course of action is going to be from this point forward. He announces that there will be no biopsy he will consent to. He also says he will not submit to any surgical intervention on his behalf. He says that chemotherapy may be indicated both before and after surgery, which he absolutely refuses. Finally, he states that he will not consent to any radiation therapy being performed upon him prior to or after a surgery would be completed.
As should be obvious the patient does not want to have anything to do with the conventional medical treatment of pancreatic cancer. He claims that he is there that day to discuss with me what alternative and integrative program may be proposed that he can pursue in order to assist in the eradication of the cancer.
It is apparent to me that he fully understands the ramifications of his decision to the extent that, in his opinion and by his choice, he is not interested in conventional therapy of any kind as one of his treatment options. He instead wishes to discuss the treatment options available to him from the alternative-medical realm, which he feels hold the best opportunity for him to have any impact on his pancreatic disease. He is attentively awaiting a description by me as to how pancreatic cancer may be treated through the integrative process.
This gentleman’s situation is obviously a serious one. It does point out, however, that even in a situation where there are known therapies to pursue, there are many individuals who intuitively understand the shortcomings of conventional medicine and will not allow those shortcomings to dictate their medical course of action and medical therapies that they wish to pursue.
Numerous patients of mine come to me with other medical ailments with a far lesser degree of gravity associated with them, but the story remains the same. They select to pursue integrative and alternative approaches to their medical problems and avoid conventional therapy essentially, in their opinion, at all costs.
Each of these patients has a primary-care physician. The patients have insurance coverage that will allow them to be seen by their physicians and have their insurance reimburse that encounter. These patients, however, understand the limitations of the conventional medical model. They also understand that the use of pharmaceutical agents within that model does nothing to correct the problem for which they have sought the medical attention but instead only suppresses the symptoms that are provoked by those disorders.
Category 2: those patients who pursue alternative and integrative medicine as a last resort
This group of patients has serious medical issues for which they have consulted with a multitude of medical doctors over an extended period of time. They continue their search in the hope that the next doctor will have the key to unlock the answers that have eluded all the health practitioners they have consulted with to date.
As far as conventional doctors are concerned, they were the first arena of pursuit of these individuals. After extensive evaluations by multiple practitioners as well as multiple medical disciplines, no diagnosis that had been operational ever has solved their medical dilemma.
This group of patients, however, has not given up the hope and possibility of regaining their health again. Instead, they begin to pursue the alternative arena in the hopes that this group of professionals may find the answer to their particular medical problems.
I find these patients to be extremely knowledgeable in medical matters. They have an appreciation for multiple medical modalities that they think may be used on their behalf. They have already bought into the fact that their unhealthy tissue can be revived and restored to full function once again if only they can be guided by a medical professional to allow that to become their new reality.
They have learned on their own that even when the conventional medical community has diagnosed their problem, the treatments used in the conventional arena have not been able, nor does it appear that they ever will be able, to restore them to fully functional once again. They have therefore learned on their own that for them to function well, their tissues must be restored to normal function and that with the tools found within the conventional medical community, this will not be possible in their case.
Category 3: patients who have no options for further treatment
In this group of patients, after all conventional treatment measures have failed, the patient is then informed that no further treatment is available, in a sense providing no way to regain health and vitality ever again.
It is in this category that I find the majority of the patients who participate in our eye-treatment programs. These are the patients of the true “nothing can be done” individuals who suffer from incurable diseases that the medical profession itself has given up on.
I have consulted with many who have found themselves in such an unfortunate category of disease. It could be a cancer patient who has completed a surgery and undergone multiple rounds of chemotherapy and an equal number of radiation sessions. At some point, it is standard operating procedure to advise the patient that no further treatment is available and that he should “get his affairs in order” and await the inevitable.
A patient who comes to my care with that history does not and should not hear from me that “nothing can be done.” The fact of the matter is that there is always something that can be done, and those efforts can be and are worthwhile to, at a minimum, improve their current situation and quality of life.
There is something that can be said about the members of this group of patients that actually puts them in an easier decision-making situation than is found in any of the other groups. That happens to be the undeniable situation that they really do not have any other competing therapy to even consider. If they do not choose the treatment program I offer to them, it is not as though they have any other therapy, program, or treatment option to put in its place. The true fact of the matter is there is no other therapy.
There is no other treatment program. There just is not any other viable alternative except for one, which is to do nothing at all and accept the inevitable consequences of that decision.
Many patients become resigned to the fact that their disease and health are just going to continue to deteriorate. They have already had this notion confirmed by their own doctor, a person in whom they have established a great degree of trust and, for that reason, would never say “nothing more can be done” if it were not so.
Let’s be clear. No doctor should ever extinguish the hopes and aspirations of getting well for any reason whatsoever. There is always something that can be done. Just because all conventional medical treatment has failed does not mean some other clinician does not have a plan to succeed where others have failed.
In reality, there is no difference between the cancer patient who is told that all treatment is suspended and that he should go home to “get his affairs in order” and the eye patient who is told by his doctor that “nothing can be done,” and vision loss will continue to deteriorate. In both cases, the hope of getting better is extinguished. In a cancer patient, a life will come to an end as the ultimate consequence of the decision not to treat. The eye patient does not die due to the lack of a viable treatment option, but I will share with you that in many cases, patients have confided in me to reveal that they wish they would.
It Doesn’t Matter How You Get Here
It does not matter how you arrive here, whether you are the informed patient on a mission to regain your sight or the patient who abruptly learns there is medical help available to regain your vision. I think you already know the consequence of a decision to do nothing at all and where that ultimately may bring you with your sight.
This eye program is intended to allow you to take charge of your medical and visual future, and remove the option of doing nothing at all.
Up until now, you have been told and believed “nothing can be done” to restore your vision at all. If that truly were the case, why would it be possible to offer a treatment program at all to restore your sight? The answer will really only be how much restoration and how quickly that restoration can come, which will be the variable from one patient to another. If you ever can come to agree any level of visual function has improved, you have already made the case for the accuracy of the claim that you can restore your lost vision now.