In previous posts, I shared with you how my mom, who is 78 years old, was sick, depressed and in pain and how we, her children, tried to help her in different ways. One of my mom’s biggest challenges was her attitude towards doctors, especially her GP (General Practitioner or Family Doctor).
My mom was addicted to her GP. This man has been her doctor for over 20 years. When she went to see him, she did not leave his clinic until he prescribed something for her or sent her to a specialist. When she saw a new drug on TV, she went to him and asked for it. The problem was not that she asked. The problem was that he often gave it to her!
At one stage, we asked my dad to go with my mom to the doctor and read to us what was written on her medication labels. Half of them had side effects that included kidney, liver, heart, joint, muscle and/or brain damage, and even death. We asked my dad to read her the labels, but she said that if her doctor prescribed it, it was good for her.
For years, we all told my mom what we thought about her doctor. We hated him. He was not trying to heal her. He was giving her medication to get her off his back. He sent her from one specialist to another.
About 15 years ago, as she got into a bus, the door closed on her shoulder. She had it checked several times. The doctors told her that a ligament was torn and there was nothing they could do. When we asked her to check the option of surgery, her doctor said that they didn’t operate at her age and if she did, she would not be able to move her hand for one year.
For about 10 years, my mom complained about pain in her ribs. It got so bad she could not sleep on her side. Her doctor said she had osteoporosis and gave her calcium. She took calcium for 10 years and nothing changed, so this was obviously not working.
When my parents came to Australia, I was very clear with my mom about this message: It is OK to try different things and use your feeling to check if they are working. If you feel better after taking something, great! If you try it for 3 months and your feeling doesn’t improve, you need to stop.
This is something I even tell my clients about life coaching. I encourage them to check their feelings after each session and stop coming if the coaching doesn’t make them feel good. This is especially important for clients who come to see me after years of some other therapy that didn’t help.
Doctors are not a manifestation of God
One day, my mom went to see her GP, but he was not there. Instead, she saw a new doctor. The new doctor was shocked at the medication she had been taking changed it to something else. Within 3 months, the pain in my mom’s ribs totally disappeared and she felt a huge difference. She could sleep and her bone density scans improved.
Unfortunately, that didn’t change what she thought about “her” doctor. He was still a manifestation of God.
In coaching, we focus a lot on empowerment. When you give someone else the power over your life, your health and your feelings, you are disempowered. This is not an easy concept for many people, who see their doctors as all-knowing and whatever they say goes.
I remember that when my son Tsoof was 4 months old, he wheezed and we found ourselves in the emergency room. A doctor checked him said, “I’m admitting him”. He ordered the nurse to give him antibiotics. Unlike most people, Gal and I were beyond this “the Doctor is God” syndrome, so we said to him we would like to get a second opinion.
He was upset with us. We told him, “Doctors don’t make the decisions. We do. Doctors are consultants. They give us their knowledge and wisdom and we what to do with it”. The doctor was still upset, but the nurse called another doctor.
The other doctor was very young. She explained to us the options and we decided to admit Tsoof and put him in an oxygen tent, but not to give him antibiotics. She came to check him occasionally for two days and he left the hospital healthy and with no antibiotics.
Tsoof is now 22 years old. He has never been never sick and never taken antibiotics. One day, when he was about 12 years old, he bumped his knee on a rock near the ocean. We took him to the local emergency room to take the oyster shells out and stitch it. Three days later, we went to our local clinic to change his bandages. It took them a long time to see him, because they had no record of him.
Gal and I are very happy with our attitude towards doctors. It keeps our children very healthy.
For years, everyone in the family said bad things about my mom’s doctor. Seriously, we all hated him and blamed him for many of her problems. We even used to refer to him as “he who must not be named”. When I “put my coaching hat on”, I realized that whenever we badmouthed him, she said how wonderful he was.
It is unwise to say bad things about someone’s God and the doctor was my mom’s God. So, in a way, whenever we told her not to go to him, not to see him, or how horrible and irresponsible he was, she heard herself saying good things about him as a reply.
For this reason, decided not to say bad things about the doctor when she came for a visit. Every time she mentioned his name, we took a deep breath and said nothing. In the first week of her visit, she talked about him a lot, but as time passed, she talked about him less and less, and with him out of the picture, things got easier.
Our WhatsApp conversations for a year made little to no change. We reached a point when my siblings said, “That’s it. We can’t help her anymore. She needs to come to you and you can use all your coaching tricks on her”. At first, it sounded as a compliment and I appreciated their trust. I also realized they were “sick and tired” of her. Each of them was going through personal challenges and needed a break.
I freaked out.
I had helped people with autoimmune diseases and with serious illnesses, but never a family member and never in such a short time. It was going to be a challenge. In my mind, I could see my parents coming to visit me for the last time. I told Gal and the kids that this was probably the last time they would come to us and we needed to cherish every minute of it.
Next time, I will share with you the preparations for my mom’s visit.
Until them, stay healthy and be happy!
This post is part of the series From Sickness to Health:
- From Sickness to Health: The Story of Our Life
- From Sickness to Health: Working Together on a Shared Goal
- From Sickness to Health: Doctors are Not Gods