I am a doctor – but first and foremost, I am a mom.
After being repeatedly told by my doctors ‘no there’s nothing you can do for your children, just avoid the allergens and pray they grow out of their allergies’, I became frustrated.
With each passing year of medical practice, that frustration grew. I began to realize that, as doctors, we are increasingly faced with chronic conditions for which we have no ‘cure’. Yes, there are many diseases which western medicine is great for – antibiotics for infections, appendectomy for appendicitis. However, with the exploding epidemic of chronic conditions like autoimmune disease and allergy (to name just a couple), I felt increasingly powerless. All I did as a doctor was to treat ‘symptoms’ but I never felt that I was helping to remove the root cause of diseases or helping patients reach a ‘cure’. A lot of the time, a pill for an ill ended up causing side effects elsewhere in the body too. I found myself being asked the same questions by my patients; questions which I incessantly asked my own doctors:
Is there nothing else I can do?
I saw the same frustration and disappointment in their eyes which I felt in my own heart.
Recent data from John Hopkins has shown that children are taking longer to grow out of their food allergies. I was not happy to just avoid allergens for my kids, I did not want to accept the status quo…I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to help them outgrow their allergies.
So I set about attending various medical courses on allergy, researching and reading. What really helped was my medical training –my understanding and knowledge of the human body allowed me to interpret the materials I encountered with a scrutinizing eye. It’s very hard to know what to believe from the internet, but with the resources I had access to as a doctor and my medical knowledge, I was able to make decisions on what was best for my kids.
Fundamentally, I asked myself – what is the scientific evidence behind this, why would it work, and does it cause any harm? Sometimes it is difficult to obtain rigorous scientific evidence for the efficacy of treatments – doctors always look for ‘double-blind, randomized trials’ before endorsing treatments. This meant that sometimes they might overlook treatments and suggestions which may be helpful. For example, acupuncture has only been more accepted in western medicine in the recent 10 years as more research trials have shown its effectiveness in treating pain.
I’m all for scientific research – it brings validity to what we prescribe and proof that we are acting in patients’ best interests. I still hold dear to me everything I learned in medical school. However, my gut instinct as a mom has made me more open-minded as I began searching for other ways to help my kids.