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Beacon Senior News

Sometimes the doctor doesn’t know best

Mar 22, 2021 02:48PM ● By Melanie Wiseman
Stock photo, doctor explaining chart to older woman

An unusual looking spot here or a sore knee there has us Boomers finding ourselves at the doctor’s office more frequently these days. Hopefully, the wisdom we have gained by having more years under our belts has extended into our medical care. I know mine has.

The medical perspectives shared by Dr. Phil Mohler in this issue's cover story are ones I take to heart. People in the United States are over diagnosed, over treated and over medicated. We should take an active role in our health care, ask challenging questions and understand that doctors are human, too.

For years, I had a family practice physician who was kind, caring and a good listener. However, after too many bad calls and medical experiences gone awry—causing unnecessary physical and financial pain—I began to question his judgment.

In one instance, a visit for a deep plantar wart turned into multiple appointments for liquid nitrogen freezing applications. From past experience, I knew this procedure was pointless, yet I didn’t speak up. Instead, I incurred a huge bill due to the procedure’s ridiculous coding as “surgery.” I finally wised up, and one trip to a podiatrist took care of the problem at a reasonable cost. 

After years of feeling badgered by this same physician about the need to take cholesterol medication, I learned of a better alternative from my brother who had the same experience and took matters into his own hands. He scheduled a simple Calcium CT Scan, which showed that even though his cholesterol numbers were slightly elevated like mine, zero plaque was lining the walls of his veins. Following his lead, I received the same results and literally got the doctor off my back about an unnecessary medication.

Before meeting Dr. Mohler, I self-prescribed myself calcium and fish oil because I heard they were good for women over 50. Despite being an extremely healthy person with no symptoms to require either, my doctor never questioned their use. I no longer take these supplements and continue on a healthy diet and weight-bearing exercise routine.

In my late 40s, I was over diagnosed two years in a row as a result of routine mammogram screenings. Instead of taking a “wait and see” approach to extremely small unidentifiable specs on the image, which would have been Mohler’s advice, I endured two general anesthesia surgeries. After stress and tears, I was told the results were harmless calcium deposits typical of dense tissue. Have a nice day.

I won’t bore you with more of my experiences as I’m sure you have many of your own.

If you get anything from this column, it’s to drop the old school attitude of “Just do what the doctor says.” Ask what would happen if you don’t take this medication or do this screening or surgery. It’s your body, your life. Be an active participant in your health care instead of a bystander. 

Read more in this month's cover story.