I sometimes forget it, but I have been in the U.S. health care system, both as consumer and provider, but also and always as student, since my mid 20's. And I consider myself among the few fortunate ones to have found physicians who questioned everything their training and practice guidelines counseled them to do. "Is this really what's best for my patients?" they would quietly ask themselves. "Where is this recommendation coming from, and whom does it ultimately benefit?"
These two men, both now retired, left an indelible impression on me. The practice of medicine doesn't have to be a child's game of matching this diagnosis to that pill or surgical procedure. There can be much more to it. If you want there to be.
And what's so great about what I like to call this new wide lens "question asking" medicine: everybody benefits. (Well, everybody but the pharmaceutical, insurance and hospital conglomerates.)
The clinician's life suddenly becomes much more interesting, and gratifying; the client/patient's, less one of passive participation in sickness and health, careening from one problem (or prescription or surgery) to another, and more an informed, in-charge stewardship of his or her life.
B.P.T. (Bachelor Of Physiotherapy)- Dulton College of Physiotherapy.
For me it was a call to a psychologist. Or psychiatrist. I don't recall.
I was going through my first big break up a couple of years after the relatively suddenly death of my first boyfriend in NYC. I simply didn't have the tools to deal with all these new emotions, especially since I had grown up in the Protestant Midwest where uncomfortable feelings were scarcely acknowledged much less teased apart and explored.
A friend from Boston who had studied at Tufts recommended his therapist who had helped him so much, on West 9th Street just off of Sixth Avenue around the corner from Balducci's (now a Citarella) and Bigelow's.
When I finally summoned the courage to call, the first thing she asked me was not how soon I could come in or whether or not I might "hurt myself," but who was my insurance carrier and did I know how many visits it might cover.
Perhaps more worldly or hardened sorts would have shrugged this off and proceeded. But for me, hailing from a more innocent land and still so raw from life's first real rough blows, it was nothing close to what I needed from her over the phone that day.
Needless to say I hung up. And probably cried.
What I needed to hear from her of course was, "Come in. We'll figure it out." That's the world I needed then. And that's the world I still look for, dream of, fight for-- and try to help to create.
It was many years later that another group of friends, Todd from Mentor, Stephen from Ypsilanti and Bruce from New Jersey, coaxed me into joining their therapy support group. And that eventually led to one on one sessions with the group leader, a Gestalt therapist who helped me a lot even though at the time I was nearly certain it was all for nought.
I will be forever grateful to Eric the therapist for that. He saw and recognized a need in the community and addressed it not as a business opportunity but as a call to apply the training and accumulating wisdom to which he had dedicated his professional life. These are the men I dare to emulate.
M.P.T. (Master Of Physiotherapy)- Dulton College of Physiotherapy.