Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Modern Medicine

We had our Enrichment meeting for all the women in our ward at church today, and the majority of the meeting was a Q&A with a doctor from the ward. The few Sundays prior they had small pieces of paper available in Relief Society for people to write down and submit questions, so that the speaker had some time to prepare and also so that the questions were anonymous. I thought it was a fresh idea that was really interesting, even though I didn't submit any questions. (So if any of you are in charge of planning those sorts of things, maybe that will give you some new ideas!)

Anyway, it was particularly interesting to me because I so often get asked very similar questions at work by people seeking alternatives to conventional medicine to solve their health issues. I enjoyed listening to a health care professional talk about the flip side and what options are available there - especially because he was still open-minded enough to acknowledge that alternative medicine can still work. (His philosophy was basically if it works, great, he's all for it, be it supplements, acupuncture, medication, whatever.)

He described many of the conventional Western medicine options as a balance of cost vs. benefit - for example, if you are going through menopause, is the relief from the symptoms of menopause that you get from hormone replacement therapy worth the cost of having a slightly increased risk of breast and uterine cancer? For some women it is, for others it is not.

That's partly why I enjoy my own job (doing product support for a supplement company) so much, because the costs or risks are often dramatically less (meaning less pressure on my end) - it's more a matter of "here's the research behind it; try it and if it works then great, and if not, well at least it didn't set you back anything" (besides maybe a bit of money, I suppose). (Obviously there are some exceptions to that - like if they're on lots of medication already, adding new stuff to the mix when it hasn't been tested with those meds is going to present a higher risk of drug interactions.) My own philosophy is more or less to start small and go from there, or in other words start with the lower risk options first before resorting to higher risk options. (Though this can be taken too far as well, but that's another can of worms.)

I also enjoyed getting a little more insight into a doctor's job; it was interesting to me to see how much of it really was "let's try some things and see what works best for you". Everyone's bodies are the same generally and yet they all have their own little peculiarities that make some things work better than others. I really believe that our understanding of the human body and medicine is only scratching the surface of how it all works - I mean, the immune system alone is so incredibly complex that even a simple explanation of how it works blows my mind. And the brain and nervous system is still an enigma even after studying it in college for 4 years.

Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is the human body is amazing and I love learning more about it. Even though I didn't learn a ton tonight, it was still fascinating to hear about things I knew about already from a fresh perspective. Also, I apologize for the excessive use of parenthetical remarks in this post...

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