In 1999, I delivered my first baby. Back then, it was almost a given that you would have an epidural. But I decided otherwise. I went in knowing this wasn’t what I wanted. The nurses almost seemed to mock me as the day wore on. Eventually, I did ask for one because the pain was unbearable; however, it was too late. All I could have was a small amount of Demerol. But you know what? Our daughter was the only baby in the unit wide awake. That’s because when mothers take drugs, then babies are drugged…and it makes them sleepy. Since then, I’ve always wondered why doctors in the United States are so quick to offer medication and why we’re so quick to take them.
Fast forward to a few years ago. My gynecologist told me I was perimenopausal, and then she off-handedly said, “I can put you on a birth control pill.”
For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why I would need to take birth control in my forties. It made no sense, and she didn’t explain it. After research, I now understand it was because menopause is a hormonal situation that may require replacement hormones for balance. However, I’ve also learned that there are other ways to manage hormones other than popping a pill.
Fast, fast forward to a couple weeks ago. I visited an ear, nose, and throat specialist for a recurring cough I’ve had. He diagnosed me with laryngopharyngeal acid reflux, asked me if I drank alcohol or coffee, then quickly wrote a script. When I read the side effects, one of them, though rare, is lupus. Lupus? In addition to this, it’s not good for people with low white blood cell counts, which I also have.
“Is there something else I can do…something more natural?” I asked the physician’s assistant.
The answer was another prescription, with 40 possible side effects. That’s when I decided I would do what I always do: read and research on my own and talk to my friends to see what they knew.
Like most illnesses, this type of reflux can also be repaired with a specific diet. One of my friends revealed that she was prescribed medication for her acid reflux, too. And the meds were only supposed to be used for months, but her doctor had her on them for years! She changed her diet, figured out her triggers, and removed the meds from her life. Another friend suggested an Ayurvedic diet. When I confirmed my dosha and read about the types of foods I should eat, they perfectly aligned with what I’d read about non-acidic foods. It is totally possible to shift my diet and reflux.
Part of my point here is that US doctors seem to be on a different page than I am. Their purpose doesn’t seem to be to get to the root causes of issues or even to heal them. It seems they’re paid to prescribe medications for as long as humanly possible, no matter the side effects, even if there are alternative, simpler solutions.
My other point is, as patients, we should be a bit more discerning about what medications we allow in our bodies. I know there are times when there really is no choice in the matter. For example, my youngest daughter had to be delivered via C-section. There was no way I could opt out of an epidural; it was mandatory for that type of operation. But if your illness isn’t extreme or chronic, then I think it’s worth taking a second look at alternative options.
*I’m a Dr. but not that kind of doctor. This is my opinion. Seek advice from your physician if you’re having medical issues.