Doctors, Treatment

Health Care Providers Aren’t Mechanics & You Aren’t a Car

I can’t count the number of times someone has told me — or I have said — “I just want a doctor/naturopath/acupuncturist/whomever to fix me.” Unfortunately, health care providers aren’t mechanics and bodies aren’t machines.

I stopped letting myself think that they were a few years ago, but seeing an example on my own body always refreshes the lesson. As soon as the massage therapist I saw this morning finished working around my left shoulder blade and switched to the right, my left arm and hand started tingling.

She moved my left arm around and massaged different spots to see which ones intensified or reduced the tingling in my arm. The culprit was deep into my left armpit and chest.

The sensations I felt today weren’t all that unusual, nor would any health care provider be hard pressed to figure out what was happening (I hope!). Still, I was reminded of the complexity of each person’s body and that none of us are identical.

These differences aren’t all inherent in your body, either. There’s the structural wear and tear, but your chemistry and neurology also change over time. It’s impossible to determine all the factors that contribute to each person’s headache disorder or what triggers individual migraine or headache episodes.

Health care providers have to compare existing knowledge from research to what patients tell them and what the physical exam and test results show. Given the incomplete knowledge and how everyone’s body differs, it’s clear that there’s no easy fix.

If you don’t respond to the first treatment — or two or five — that you try, don’t despair. You aren’t a car, but health care provider can still piece together an effective treatment for you. Very, very few of us are truly treatment resistant.

3 thoughts on “Health Care Providers Aren’t Mechanics & You Aren’t a Car”

  1. That’s a great point. I’m sure most people with hard-to-treat headache disorders have encountered the doctor who has THE solution — only to find out that if it doesn’t work, the doctor loses interest in the patient.

    When a health care provider of any type tells me that he or she has the answer, I snicker to myself. Unless I’m really lucky, I’ll prove that person wrong, too.

    Take care,

  2. I admit, after 27 years of chronic pain, that I do wish my body was like a car and just needed a little tinkering with and a few new parts! Alas, our bodies are very complicated and unique and they don’t respond exactly like the next body or the next. We need to remember that and doctors also need to be reminded of that as well. I have encountered doctors and other health care providers who have proceeded along a prescribed path with me and when my body doesn’t react the way they expect they become dismissive or otherwise shut down. And then there is my pet peeve, the folks who say that they have the PERFECT remedy for my pain(s) and it WILL for sure help me because it helped their Aunt/co-worker/someone on the radio!

    Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to working towards health.

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