We don't always get the best treatments if the treatment gets in the way of...other priorities
This week I posted an article on this site about having been variously diagnosed over the last fifty years plus with an array of problems ranging from anxiety disorder to PTSD to Borderline Personality Disorder to Bipolar to Post-Concussion Syndrome. Suffice it to say that the more I researched all this, I learned a lot about what doctors don't know.
Today, I got an email from a Saga supporter which included a Washington Post story which got my attention (Thank you, Linda).
Here's the story. It may be behind a paywall but it's worth checking out:
Let me provide context.
Some years back, after my sixteenth concussion, I was experiencing symptoms which led me to research TBI or Traumatic Brain Injury. The VA pushed drugs at me when I sought help. That's a death sentence, especially since I was getting ready to cycle off a slew of drugs for conditions I didn't have. Those drugs were already crippling me. Drugs for TBI? Not on your life. There is no call for them whatsoever.
You'll note that nowhere in this article do they mention drug therapy for concussions or TBI:
Top athletes can turn to yoga, meditation, talk therapy, limited screen time, rest and much more healthy alternatives. I'm an athlete. So I turned to a healthier alternative.
At the time, back in Denver, my sports chiropractor had installed a LiveO2 oxygenation system in his office (Please note: I am not compensated for this link).
I started using it daily, and within a few uses of this system, my symptoms began to disappear. I did further research. The folks who created it were just up the highway. I had a system installed in my house. After that I was able to manage my symptoms far better. No dope, no drugs, just this system, and friends that I trusted for lots of talking, rest and recuperation. It's not cheap, but look, it's my body. I've been rough on it, and I need the best care I can get.
Drugs are so often a way out for the medical and psychiatric communities to avoid the harder work to get us healthy and not constantly in need of services which, of course, keep millions of folks employed. The sicker we are from drugs, the more help we need, the more drugs we need, the more people are employed because all too often, our conditions continue to worsen.
For perspective, this slightly dated NPR interview:
Back to this oxygen therapy.
I'm a veteran with PTSD. Mine is from rapes. Combat vets, pilots, those folks have PTSD from completely different experiences. PTSD is awful stuff. The folks who created LiveO2 took their system to a military facility where the chances of being able to get highly-trained but sidelined veterans back in the mix were considerably better than the treatment they were currently getting.
If my experience with the system was any indication, and I've had 22 concussions and I am still upright and working and working out, then my guess is that those other military folks might have also gotten real value. That's money saved by the military, and people who really wanted to do their job returned to duty again.
Military folks with multi-million-dollar training who are desperately needed, to say the least.
The snag was a Certain Person whose interests lay in managing the care for those injured personnel. If they suddenly got healthy, that person lost their power. Their fiefdom dried up. The military is nothing if not a vast network of small fiefdoms, which people fight to maintain, for in doing so they bolster their chances of advancement.
Sometimes at great cost to others.
So those particular military folks didn't get care that could potentially have helped them. I have no idea whether they ever found out about LiveO2 or sought it out individually like I did, but the military dodged this because someone- and perhaps an entire department or many departments- had/likely still has a vested interest in keeping their clientele needy.
The WaPo article details another therapy which would most assuredly help those of us who have PTSD, but the problem is that too much has already been sunk into therapies which don't have anywhere near the success rate. At least in this regard, the VA is apparently more concerned at this point with sunk costs than outcomes.
I'll stop there. You can see this kind of thing all over, especially in medicine. If there's a breakthrough, who loses out? Who loses power, grant money, prestige, congressional funding? If there's a big cancer cure, a breakthrough for diabetes, well, guess how many people make money off our misery as it pertains to cancer or diabetes? Where's the motivation?
Diabetes is big business. Here's the...ahem..."market report." The cost to treat it is some $800b annually in the US, but just think of the sales opportunities. Big pharma is more likely to chase this than chase the development of desperately-needed new antibiotics. If you want to explore how diabetes is big business and is killing folks off, please see this excellent long read by Reuters:
Just to be fair to the VA, which like all institutions has its share of very good doctors who care, here's a quote from the article:
The performance measure also encountered fierce opposition from doctors with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health system. They treat many older patients suffering from multiple chronic conditions, and they believed the new performance standard would cause patients to “suffer needlessly and some would die,” said Dr David Aron, a professor at Case Western Reserve University and member of the VA/Defense Department diabetes clinical practice guidelines committee.
You and I, especially if we are veterans, are not always going to get the best possible care, and this is just one reason. Let's forget about the staffing issues, the current unbelievably messy overhaul the VA is currently undergoing that is throwing the entire system into disarray. I am lucky to be cared for by an excellent clinic, but overall the VA is a massive bureaucracy crippled at times by poor science.
For example, the VA has adopted the false assumption that there are health risks for women who get hormone therapy as they enter pre-menopause through post-menopause. Please see:
I asked my primary care provider for HRT, and she denied it based on that flawed study. So if I want quality care, and I do, I have to go to a clinic which offers HRT and other high-level services to optimize my health as I age. I am, too. I already found one. No, it's not cheap. But not getting the best care is more expensive in the long run.
The medical industry leans into such questionable research, and has a terrible time letting go of bad habits. It's the same way that both the medical community and most especially insurance industry lobbyists insist on using the much-debunked BMI as part of a key health indicator. By that measure, most serious bodybuilders including The Rock are obese. Just for fun, see this:
Perhaps my favorite is RICE protocol. Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Even Gabe Mirkin, the doctor who came up with this, thoroughly debunks it, but yet you still get told to ice your injuries. My primary care people still advise me to do this. Nope. With rare exceptions (because I'm a bleeder) I tape my injuries and move 'em, which is backed up by far more solid science:
There are likely very good therapies out there which aren't being offered because someone loses out big time when their cash cow, the client, gets better. That's a problem in a lot of industries. I'm just addressing a few that touch me, my fellow veterans and women of a Certain Age especially when it comes to care of the body and mind.
The way I see it, do your research. Please don't get sucked into quack science and fake cures which can cost you more than just money. Make good choices about what's out there and ask for what you want. You may have to keep asking especially if it's preventative. Your insurance may kick the can down the street and you may have to pay for it. At that point, as with my HRT therapy, you and I get to choose what's more important.
Getting mediocre or poor care or paying for better care. You can do much of the work yourself, which you already know, which is all about prevention. With all respect to marginalized communities, this is not the article to address health inequities about which I am painfully aware, and about which I care deeply.
Being healthy does cost, beginning with movement, good food and a commitment to taking care of ourselves. A solid social circle, which takes time to develop, solves a great many of life's biggest issues around feeling isolated and alone. Friends give us meaning. That's where it all starts and ends, in my book.
Some 75% of our quality of life as we age is squarely in our hands. That big advantage is fueled by our personal choices around healthy habits. They are highly individualized, from diet to exercise to what supplements we take. And that takes work, work that a great many of us simply don't want to do.
If we carry mental health challenges in our life bucket, that's for us to decide what works for us, and fight as best we can for a methodology that gives us the best shot at our best lives.
Let's do the research. Make competent decisions about what we really need, where we can get good care (I include medical tourism in this, due to costs, and have used those services for that reason) and find where we can afford the kind of care that takes us to optimal health, not "acceptable for our age," which is one hell of a low bar. A caterpillar could scale that one.
If you can, keeping working at it until you find doctors who care more about prevention and your overall health than pushing pills. Also be aware that even something as innocent as checking in via software can be used to market drugs to you:
There are always tradeoffs. However it's a lot more expensive to be terribly ill in America, as too many can attest. If I had a choice, I'd rather put some people out of work because we have a very healthy population, then redirect those folks into a whole new category of caregiver, than to perpetuate the Sickness Industrial Complex we currently have.
Our economy works best when we are sick, fail at weight loss, give up on the gym. The economy thrives on our failure, and that's no way for us to win at the game of life.
Let's be well. It's worth fighting for.
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