A grain of salt: In defense of your doctor

By Ammi Midstokke
Reader Columnist

I can always tell that I’ll like a patient when they tell me that they’ve spent years with the same doctor. It means they have been taking care of themselves. When I request their medical records, they are filled with metrics and notes that indicate said doctor has been assessing risk and developing rapport the entire time.

Ammi Midstokke.

They need to do both, so when they warn you about increasing risk, you’ll actually listen to them. And maybe, just maybe, even follow their recommendations to take cholesterol medication.

Because chances are, 20 years ago, when they suggested you watch your junk food intake, you forgot to pay attention.

In a community of alternative and complimentary medical practitioners, a town like Sandpoint is loaded with every modality of health that you could possibly need. We should take advantage of them and know that they are not mutually exclusive. 

In fact, the term ‘alternative’ has a negative connotation because of its association with patients or practitioners who are inclined to drastically separate the two (well, and purveyors of snake oil and the reality of big pharma). In the interest of your health, I recommend you create yourself a sexy cocktail of healthcare professionals to guide you through the ownership, injuries, and maintenance of your body. You’ll have it until you die. 

That’s right. Find your massage therapist, your dentist, your acupuncturist, get some hippie sauce brewing herbologist in the mix, maybe a few mad scientists (so far as the pocket book allows and you actually feel a difference), and don’t forget your doctor or nurse practitioner. It just so happens, they have extensive training and expertise and can do rad things like run labs, prescribe medications, and decipher research papers. 

Sometimes, when I spend 40 minutes explaining to a patient the science of a single ingredient’s effect on intracellular communicators of inflammation called cytokines, a patient will wonder out loud, “Why didn’t my doctor tell me about this?” 

They did. A long time ago, before you were sick or diseased, when they saw you and said, “Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.” Remember that day? You were probably in your 30s, doing a mandatory physical or down with Strep Throat (the only reasons we seem to proactively schedule appointments these days). 

Also, your doctor can diagnose anything from an ingrown toenail to cancer — an incredible breadth of knowledge — and another reason you want to go regularly. They worry about us like our mothers, without the nasal whining. Our medical professionals are always advocating for our health, but it is our job to advocate for ourselves by eating well, resting enough, exercising and for the love of your lungs, not smoking. And check-ups.

By the time people are unwell, they are highly motivated see a doctor, make changes or avoid “having to take a pill”(which some associate with pathological unhealth). In fact, they are often so motivated, they’ll show up in my office knowing full well that they are probably going to have to give up cheese, or worse, bread. One has to be pretty desperate to give up cheese and bread. 

So get a massage. Do some craniosacral, some sound therapy, some yoga, some Chinese medicine, exercise, eat your vegetables and go to the doctor on occasion.  

If they ask you a billion seemingly unimportant questions that you’ve maybe already answered, remember they have fifteen minutes to figure out how much damage you’ve done with Twinkies over the last decade. And when you get those mysterious chart notes and lab records, know that the strange combination of data spells the same word every time: care.

Ammi Midstokke is a nutritional therapist and author. When she isn’t saving people with vegetables, she is trying to get lost in the mountains. She can be contacted at [email protected] 

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