Sunday, July 31, 2011

Medical Advice. Huh?
Good Housekeeping Magazine Owes it to Millions of Thyroid Patients to Get the Story Right

Wednesday July 27, 2011.

It appears that Good Housekeeping published a misleading article. Or did it? That's the problem with medical commentary these days. The experts don't always agree. Sometimes they rarely agree. I learned this firsthand in my life. I discovered that I couldn't always believe what I was reading or what a doctor told me.
The topic of the article cited above is hypothyroidism. There is disagreement among medical professionals about treatment and drugs for hypothyroidism and other medical conditions including cancer, heart disease prevention, diabetes and others.
Once upon a time I went to a doctor, who correctly told me that I had (and still have) hypothyroidism. She prescribed a drug, levothyroxine, to treat it. So far so good. At that time I still believed in advice from the conventional medical people.
Some years later, I was advised that my blood sugar was getting high, but not given advice. Later, I was told that my cholesterol was high, but not given advice. So far no advice, no drugs. Later still, a doctor strongly recommended that I take a drug to lower my cholesterol.  At that point I started to do research. Yikes and hoity toity, had I ever been fooled. I discovered that conventional doctors' opinions are not the only ones out there. I learned that eating the "healthy" American typical diet is an invitation to disease, especially diabetes. I learned that there is a large group of people who have written intelligently about the dangers of taking drugs to lower cholesterol, and that high cholesterol isn't the cause of heart disease in most cases. I learned that I might have better outcomes if I changed my thyroid medication to bio-identical. Then I discussed these things with my doctor. And my next doctor. And my next doctor. We weren't on the same planet.  Then I read about cancer treatment that didn't include chemotherapy. I'm glad I don't have cancer.
The article cited above points to (but doesn't actually say) the need for us to do our own research on conditions we are told we have. We also need to weed out the quackery if we can discover it, or embrace what a conventional doctor might call quackery. The citation above is from a website dedicated to information about thyroid conditions, operated by a woman who is not a doctor, and who did her own research. She has published books.
I'm not taking the drugs the doctors recommended, other than one for hypothyroidism. It took me about ten years and several doctors to finally locate a doctor who would go beyond what she had learned in medical school or from seminars presented by drug companies. I'm a lucky one.
I believe that people should be able to trust the medical advice they are given, and that that advice is likely to improve their health. (I am not optimistic about advice from doctors at this point.) I have several books about statin drugs that are very informative. After reading them and other information, I wouldn't touch a statin drug. I have several books on diabetes, which interest me because I have been trying for several years with success to keep my blood sugar under control without drugs. It amazes me that there are plenty of contradictory books about diabetes, some suggesting low to no carb diets, others recommending low glycemic raw vegetable vegan diets, and one promoting a high carb diet. They all explain the science. Even Dr. Robert Atkins explained the science. The doctors laughted at him too.
I'm glad to get advice from doctors when emergencies come up. They're very good with emergencies. But let's treat chronic conditions with open minds.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Visiting Boston

I went to Boston last week, on a bus with twenty-five other people. We took in the mythology of the beginning of our nation’s revolution, some Americana and some local culture. Then we came home. My companions on this trip were the other people who took the trip with me. After having taken a few previous trips with Jack, our driver, he was like a familiar friend. He even hugged me and other women goodbye at the end. Jan, our tour guide, was a winner, too.
We spent more time on the road than the three days in Massachusetts. It was worth it for the most part. The scenery in New York State and Massachusetts is beautiful. The mountains and hills are largely wooded. Some panoramic views looked spectacular.
In Boston, I enjoyed our tour of the USS Constitution, the oldest operative US Navy commissioned ship. It was known as Old Ironsides because cannon balls would not penetrate its keel. Next to it in dry dock was a navy destroyer. The old and the new together. The Constitution is in very good shape for its age, which the guide told us and I immediately forgot. She said it held five hundred men in its active days. Pretty crowded, even for small guys who took turns sleeping in hammocks. I was the last person to get back onto the bus because I wanted to stay and look at the boats.
Equally fascinating was our day at Lexington and Concord. A local guide took us to the relevant historical sites where battles too place. She was very good at bringing us into the events that might actually have happened as reported. Mythology here seemed more important than historical accuracy, although she said it all happened. We stood where the shot heard round the world (the expression was coined by Emerson) happened as the alleged beginning of the revolutionary war. She also told of some of the events that led to it. She said that the battle of Lexington and the Battle of Concord each lasted about five minutes. The patriots lost and Lexington and won at Concord.
We visited Paul Revere’s house in Boston, which has been restored. Fireplaces and old furniture. Revere’s midnight ride was recounted. I have read that Longfellow invented many of the details of that ride, although at Lexington our excellent guide pointed out that he was captured before he got to Concord. Longellow left out that part of Revere’s adventure. Related to this, we also visited the Old North Church in Boston, which is an Episcopal Church, where the alleged “one if by land and two if by sea” was said by Paul Revere before he rowed across the river, borrowed a horse and began his famous ride to warn the settlers that the Regulars were coming.
Americana meant stops at the Lucy Desi Center in Jamestown, NY, and the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockwell, MA, both on the way to Boston. Both were interesting in different ways. Lucille Ball’s hometown is Jamestown. The center captures her and Desi Arnaz’s life on television. In Stockwell, Rockwell’s original paintings are exhibited, I ate this up. He captured Americana on covers of the Saturday Evening Post, and the original paintings are in that museum. He was criticized by some for giving us sentimental art, but his art captured mid-century America very well. He was an excellent portrait painter. The museum has a room of his dog paintings. Dogs are present in the paintings but are not the subject of the paintings. There are photos there of Rockwell positioning dogs as models for a photographer, next to the corresponding paintings. Did we think he painted everyone and everything without models?
Local sights and tastes included dinner at Cheers, which was mediocre; the view from the top of the Prudential Building, about 50 stories high; tour of Boston Harbor in a boat; tour of the Charles River on a World War II duck; tour of part of Harvard University; an afternoon walking on the Freedom Trail mixed with time at the Quincy Market; plenty of clam chowder; other undistinguished meals here and there. On my own I located and dined at Legal Sea Food in Boston. I couldn’t forego a good lobster dinner in a city famous for seafood. And wonder of wonders, I had no beans in Beantown.

I had a good time. I took no photos. I am home now.