For the past several years I have been meaning to write about this subject. It was poking at me for some time now and i finally decided to say what I feel, somewhat know and had experience with.
I am talking about Doctors.
Long time ago, when I was just 3 years old, I suffered from Myocarditis – inflammation of the heart muscle. Believe it or not it started from an inflamed tooth… Anyhow, I was clinically dead for 6 minutes. Those six minutes probably greatly shortened my fathers life who died at the age of 43 from a massive infraction of heart. I was, however, saved by the medical staff at the Hospital for Mother and Child in Belgrade in 1961. My main cardiologist was Dr. Ms. Nedeljkovic, a warm and compassionate but firm person. I owe her my life. She have been there for me during my youth. There was one time when I was 12 years old, I woke up with tremendous pain on my side and lower back. It was so painful that I threw up from pain. Ambulance took me to the hospital and the diagnoses was – inflammation of an appendix. I was about to be rushed to the operating room when Dr. Nedeljkovic (she heard that I was brought to the hospital) walked into my room, started to press some parts of my stomach and back and in one moment, when she pressed with her finger I almost jumped out of the bed from a sharp pain. She immediately canceled the operation. We, my mom and dad and I, were confused not knowing what just happened. She explained that she was very positive that the pain I am experiencing is from my kidney and not from the appendix. Well, I was happy because I was a kid and was not very keen to have an operation. However, after some x-rays and exams Dr. Nedeljkovic was right. I had a kidney stone that was just stuck on the way to my bladder and that was causing the pain. I was given some salty water to drink in large quantities for a few days and one morning all was gone, finished. The stone ended up in my toilet…
Why did I tell you all this. In my opinion, in those days, doctors and medical staff were doing that what they loved and were devoted to. I am sure it wasn’t for the miserable pay that they were getting. Yugoslavia was a Communist Country at the time and however progressive in comparing to other communist countries, it was still under the socialist system where 99% of everything belonged to the Government. Yes, doctors lived a little better than most but nothing remotely close to being rich. They could buy a Volkswagen Bug and we, regular folk, were driving Zastava vehicles (made in Yugoslavia) and that was the difference in a nut shell. But some doctors were traveling by public transportation and had humble small apartments etc. Only, because they loved what they were doing, they did everything possible to educate themselves and learn as much as possible so that they could stay current in the Medical field to be able to help the best way they could. Many doctors from those times between 1947 and 1980, even to today, were highly respected and multiply reworded specialists in different fields of medicine.
Now let’s go a little forward to the year 1996. My wife and I were just blessed with our son. One night, when our son was just 4 months old, I woke up with a pain in my back. The pain was strong and constant and it wouldn’t let me sleep so I got up and started to do some push-ups, thinking that it is probably some nerve or muscle and this way I might be able to warm it up and ease the pain. Well, I was very, very wrong. Because, next thing that happen was totally different from what I was expecting. A sharp, strong pain pressed upon my chest and slowly took over my left arm and the left side of my body. It felt like something very heavy was resting on my chest. I started to sweat a cold sweat that was literally rolling don my face and body. And the next moment I started to loose air…My wife was still a sleep when I called out and told her, as calmly as I could, to call the ambulance. The ambulance came and took me to the hospital and I knew by then, before I was told, that I had a cardiac infarction.
In 1995 I left Canada (I was living in Canada since 1988) to go visit my mom after she had an operation – doctors removed a cancer from her throat. I decided that I would stay even longer than 6 months if she needed me but, as fate would have it, I met my future wife. Soon after we got married our son was born… So all this was happening in Belgrade in 1996… It was hard then. I was suffering from multiple angina pains during the course of the day but I had to work so that we can survive. I had yet another infarction 5 months later but I still had to work as much as possible, sometime from early morning till late at night just to pay the bills and put food on the table. All that time I had constant angina and was treated with only aspirin because, unfortunately, in those days Yugoslavia was under sanctions and there was no medicine (or it was terribly expensive) and no medical devices so patients were treated with kindness and effort but almost with nothing else. I remember after having an angiogram done, they couldn’t use any stent because they didn’t have the right kind and size. By the end of 1998 we decided that I should go back to Canada, if for no other reason but for the possibility of getting the right medicine… So in 1999 I returned to Toronto and stayed at my sister’s for a while until I got my own apartment. Only, to make life just a little more interested, NATO (America) forces started to bomb Yugoslavia, just when I was in Canada working to arrange papers for my wife and son. My family was in the war zone and I couldn’t do anything to help them. I must have made over a hundred calls, from the Canadian Consulates in Belgrade and Vienna to Members of Parliament and anyone I knew in any way connected to the Government of both countries, to try and get my family over to Canada. It finally worked out and at the end of that year they arrived at the Toronto Airport. One of the happiest days of my life.
We were now in Canada and everything will be great from that point on… Well, not entirely…
Yes, we could instantly have some life necessities and I had all the needed medication but at the same time, I started to see the difference between those doctors who were working in poverty and with no tools and medications, and these doctors with all the best tools and medications available.
To start with – I was not even offered a stent here although I am sure there was no shortage of models and sizes. I was just told that stent wouldn’t be a good idea. I could, however, have a by-pass done but only on one vessel, not the other that was obstructed, because it was in the area of the heart where it is difficult to get to and also my arteries were very small for some reason and that was yet another difficulty. So, they are proposing to cut open my chest, do the bypass and put everything back, after which time I will have to recuperate for 6 months to a year and all that so that I would eliminate half of the problem, maybe?
Well, that didn’t sit well with me. I never liked a half-ass job so that was out of the question. I declined the operation (after which time I felt like I had some infectious disease because the doctors, cardiologists would avoid me at all cost) and started to search for a better approach. To make a long story short, I found out about Chelation therapy and later Plaquex and with the help from Dr. Hui in Toronto, I finally got a break and regained some energy, stamina and overall felt much better and rendered Angina almost non-existent. Something I am sure would have never happened if I accepted the by-pass surgery.
Time goes by and now it is 2005…We are living in St. Catharines, Ontario, because it was smaller and easier than Toronto. We were both working and our son was going to school. We even bought a house with a help from our friends. One morning I was trying to tell my wife that I will go out to buy a new monitor because our was starting to flicker… I thought I was clear but my wife just started to cry and ran across the street to call our friend Earl, a dear old guy whom I became very close friend with. He came over instantly and said that he will take me to the emergency… I was still not clear on why all the panicking and why emergency? Who was sick?
On the way to the hospital Earl explained that my speech was “strange” ( afterwards I was told that it sounded like someone who went through a catastrophic head trauma, lost all touch with intelligible part of the brain and trying to speak) and that it is best if I try to mimic what I need and that he will talk instead of me when they ask those admission questions… At that moment I realized that something was wrong with me. First chance I got, while were waiting our turn to see the doctor, I went to the washroom just so that I can speak out loud and try to hear what I was saying. It didn’t help. I would say something and my brain would convince me that what I am saying is exactly what I wanted to say but at the same time it was making me confused because my mouth didn’t feel anything like what I would expect while saying those words. The mirror also showed me that there is something wrong as I was making some strange faces while trying to say something. It was scary.
Thank God it lasted only a few days and after some time, maybe a month or so, I could talk almost with no problem. I would stop at some word and I needed some time to remember a word or two but that was it. I did loose a job over it though but I also found a better job soon after so that makes it even better. Almost like some greater power above made that happen to me for a reason. The reason became very clear soon – I had a really good position, doing what I love to do and having my own office and flexibility of a personal venture. It was very good. I was happy…
Only, life was giving me yet another lesson. A year later I developed another kidney stone. I was referred to a specialist, a lady doctor who examined me. She decided that the right course of action is to implant a catheter inside my “you know what” so that…well, I don’t know exactly why. If it was to move the stone into my bladder, well it was in the wrong place for that. So I didn’t really understand the strategy but what happened next I understood perfectly well. In a matter of days I lost over 40 pounds. I am average built so I became like someone from the photos of Holocaust and concentration camps from WWII. I felt even worse. I thought I was going to die. I went back to the doctor and demanded for that thing to be removed from inside of me. That saved my life. I saved my own life. If it was left to the doctor’s discretion I would have died at the age of 47… Soon after I was directed to a hospital in London, Ontario and I went through some ultrasound procedure and got rid of the stone. Life was fine again.
But it was also the time of wide rumors that the recession will hit soon and it was showing on some work schedules that became weird and days were taken out etc… It was time to do something about it. We had a mortgage, 2 cars, some other loans…We decided that we should move to British Columbia, specifically to Vancouver Island. I found a job in Victoria after some on-line searches and telephone conversations and in 2008, first myself and after the rest of my family, came to Victoria and started a new life in James Bay where we are still to this day.
But the story doesn’t finish then. I had to find a cardiologist again. It is easier said than done. See, now a days, doctors, specialists are hard to come by. Not that there are less of them today than years before, but they are somehow placed on a pedestal and are promoted as almost Gods. You first have to ask for a specialist from general practitioner. Then you wait. A couple of weeks later you get a call about your first appointment for a cardiologist, not the one you picked but the one who will allow you to see him at his convenience. Usually that is some 6 to 9 months later. You than go to see your cardiologist for the first time so that he/she can ask you your name and occupation and your short bio. You don’t feel that any of that made any impression on a good doctor and you ask yourself why did this appointment happen at all but then you realize – how else would the good doctor be able to charge $300 for that visit. Yes, you get a scheduled visit to the ultrasound and ECG and some stress test. About stress test – still not really sure what is gained by torturing an obviously ill heart condition patient. Apparently to see how far they can push us so that they can determine what stage of the illness we are at. Only if they would just listen to our report on our activities and possible problems, diet and sleep cycle, they would be able to tell more about the state we are in than any stress test. Obviously if you ask a doctor about it you would get all this so much important “bs” how it is all in our best interest etc etc…
So you listen to what you are told and you go through all the tests and at the end there is yet another appointment at the cardiologist. Now you get some new medication. The doctor just tells you: Let’s try these once a day and these twice per day and see how it goes. You can ask what are those pills doing and you will get a medical jargon explanation that all basically mean that one pill will slow down your heart rate and lower your blood pressure and the other pill will control your heart beat and widen the arteries etc… You never ever get a pill that will produce any kind of curing because your condition is chronic. It is here to stay and will get worse by the day. Never do you get any statement that will possibly give you an idea that you might win and get better and maybe even overcome the disease. No, western medicine is not there to cure you but to assist you in controlling your illness – keeping the status quo. You might get a suggestion for an experimental procedure that also might end your life but have a good chance in helping you have a better absorption of oxygen and better muscle activity. No guarantees but it might help. However, if you decline the great offer you become a secondary patient who will be seen once a year if you are lucky.
It was what happened and I actually developed a Congestive Heart Failure because my cardiologist didn’t see anything wrong with my swollen feet and joints and enlarged stomach although I was always regular build and never had a pronounced stomach. A few weeks later I was admitted to the ER because I couldn’t breath or intake air enough and was given some shot that made me urinate every 5 minutes in large quantities. So much so that it was physically noticeable how my stomach became smaller after a couple of hours. Apparently the heart is not strong enough to pump as much as needed to be able to remove the liquids from my body so the water was filling up my lungs and I had some difficulties breathing. However, Traditional Chinese Medicine, as it turns out, is capable of straightening the heart and see no reason for a “water” pill.
OK. That was done and I felt a little better because I could breath well again. My cardiologist was told what happen and he called me to visit him. He wanted to know if I was asking for a lady doctor who is also specialized in Congestive Heart Failure, showing me how much in touch my cardiologist is with reality, at the ER where nobody has any power to ask for anybody except who is presently at that moment. I was lucky that lady doctor was in the ER as she knew what to do right away.
But I am back at my cardiologist and he is now proposing again that experimental procedure and I am again declining. So he gave me some new medications and that was it. I thought that I would now just keep on taking the pills and distance myself from my illness. I feel that not much time is left and what ever is left I would like to just live a normal life or something close to it and enjoy life as much as possible.
The only problem is, I didn’t feel well. I had a harder and harder time walking. I couldn’t eat like before because my stomach would bloat in minutes and become hard and I had a somewhat hard time breathing… After some time I thought that I should check my new medications and read what they are about. What I found out made me mad. He gave me a medication that was having worst contraindications. Not only is it not helping me but it could make things even worse. Obviously I stopped taking that medication but at the same time this proved to me that doctors, not all but some, consider themselves (and the Government doesn’t help by making them into citizens of special order) Modern Gods. We have no choice but to trust them and they have all the opportunity to really help or destroy us. Some are maybe mentally not up to do task so we have to be careful.
The warning I have to all is: never ever trust anybody 100% especially when it is about your own body and life. Internet is crazy full of so much good and bad information but never the less information that can be filtered and accepted as true. We can all educate ourselves instead of blindly trusting others. It is proved in the past years that our governments lied to us countless times. Why wouldn’t anybody else?
I can honestly say that in most of the situations I helped myself the most. We should listen to our subconsciousness and not be quick to dismiss our own body and mind.
Good health and happy life wish – to all!
PS – By chance or some other higher power, I came across a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, here in Victoria, BC. Only two days after my first visit I felt better than the past 10 years. I was sleeping better, breathing better, walking better. My mind is clearer and I had much more energy. It was a combination of Acupuncture and herbs. Doctor’s name is Dr. Kevin Hu. His clinic is at 953 Bay Street. You can reach him by phone (778 433 3373) or email: drkevinhu at gmail.com Dr.Kevin Hu is a Wizard of TCM and I am sure that contacting him will be the best move you have ever made.