Dr. Weeks’ Comment: The successful practice of medicine requires that the doctor, as diagnostician, walk the tightrope between
a) over-analysis and unreasonably slow ruling out of various unlikely causes of the symptoms. “Fever? Hmm.. Might be malaria. We need to test for that tropical disease.” Patient response: “But Doctor we are in Alaska!”
b) making casual and at times incorrect and lethal assumptions: “That is probably just a headache. Take an aspirin and call me tomorrow.” when the pain was caused by an evolving brain aneurysm and the aspirin thinned the blood to the point of causing a stroke.)
Walking that line is not always easy. For example, my last year in Vermont (1989), a new professor arrived in Burlington who was a specialist in tropical diseases and indeed, he found 6 cases of malaria that year, which had not been previously considered by local doctors. The fact is, college students travel to tropical places for study or vacation and when they return to complete studies in colleges like University of Vermont. they may bring parasites like the infamous mosquito-borne protists of the genus Plasmodium falciparum or P. vivax. In todays rushed sessions with doctors – typically lasting less that 3 minutes! – it is not surprising that most diagnoses are products of statistical probability: Doctor muttering under his or her breath: “I have seen a lot of this lately, so I bet that it what you have. Take this and see me again in 1 month.” Sound familiar?
Today in Washington State, it is the law that doctors report to the Department of Heath any incidences of Lymes’s disease which we all know is rampant on the east coast and, when chronic, causes terrible debilitating symptoms. This summer in particular, mothers are terrified. But no one is botherer by Lyme’s disease in Washington state – despite thousands of our citizens, myself included, having moved here from…. yup! the tic infested East Coast!
Why is no one in Washington state concerned about Lyme’s disease? Because no doctors in our state are reporting to the DOH that indeed they are treating hundreds of patients who suffer from Lyme’s disease. Why? Because Washington state doctors have been censured and investigated by our state medical board (MQAC) simply because they diagnosed and treated people with Lyme’s disease. Why would be they be sanctioned for caring for these people? Well, bear with me: Lyme’s disease is “bad for state tourism business”. Just ask the state of Vermont. Tourism is down this summer because of reports like this notice of Vermont now having the nations’s second highest incidence of Lyme’s disease! Furthermore, the treatment of Lyme’s disease is big business and the battle has raged for 20 years as to how best to care for people stricken. At one point, anti-trust restriction of trade charges were brought against conventional infections disease societies for illegally interfering with holistic integrative doctors who offered safer and more effective treatments for this terrible illness.
So, if you, dear reader, have a bull’s eye target rash or suffer with these chronic neurological symptoms and if you want to find a competent integrative and holistic medical doctor in Washington State to care for your Lyme’s disease…. good luck!! because these smart and courageous doctors have taken down their shingles and are keeping a low profile and NOT REPORTING to the DOH out of fear of unjust retaliation by MQAC which they consider to be more interested in protecting business than “keeping the public safe”. Above all, don’t let your doctor assume you don’t have Lyme’s disease.
(Ironically, malaria therapy is one treatment for people with Lyme’s!)
Now, to end on an upbeat and humorous note, read the story below which teaches us best about how to not make assumptions about health issues but rather to be thorough and careful in our diagnostic work up!
The Church Dinner
A group of friends from the Cottonwood Baptist Church wanted to get together on a regular basis, socialize, and play games. The lady of the house was to prepare the meal.
The meal was a great success, and Janet even hired a helper lady from town to help her serve. After everyone had finished, they relaxed, socialized, and played ’42’ and dominoes. About then, the helper lady came in and whispered in Janet’s ear.
One by one, they took each person into the bathroom, gave them an enema, and pumped out their stomach.