My Physician Missed A Lump On My Armpit

When searching for a new healthcare provider, it’s difficult to know which providers are competent, kind, and professional. Sometimes, we just have to hope for the best. When I have to visit a new healthcare provider, this is what I hope for.

I hope for someone that will not miss the small things—or even the big things.

When I was in college, I had a big lump on my armpit that was the size of a kiwi. It was so noticeable that my usually calm and laid-back mom sent me to the doctor right away. When I showed it to my doctor, she said, “I don’t see anything.” She didn’t acknowledge it until I pointed at it.

To this day, I am still scratching my head about this incident. Did she think that I was a hypochondriac and assume that I was being paranoid? Did she forget to put her contacts on? Was she tired? Did she even look the first time?  

I hope for someone that knows who I am—or at least doesn’t confuse my chart with someone else’s chart.

When I was pregnant, I saw an endocrinologist because my thyroid was out of whack. His office seemed to be busy because it took them three or more days to answer questions like, “Does the doctor want me to keep my appointment?” When I finally got a call from a nurse, this is what she said to me: “The doctor says that your thyroid levels look good. Keep taking Synthroid.”

I had never taken Synthroid in my life.

I hope for someone that is kind, humble and open to complementary therapies.

A couple of years ago, I was admitted to the hospital because my arm blew up (I had a crazy allergic reaction on my skin). With chin held high, squinty eyes peering down at me, and an expression on her face that said “I am God,” the Attending Physician snidely asked me questions like, “Why didn’t you see a skin doctor? Why are you taking fish oil?”

Due to my burning eyes (my contacts were old and I was not able to get my glasses from home) and lack of sleep from being monitored throughout the night, I was too much of a mess to explain to her that my insurance would probably not pay for dermatological services. I was also too tired to explain to her how beneficial fish oil was for me, so I just responded, “I read that fish oil is good.” With a condescending chuckle, she looked back down at her computer keyboard.

I hope for someone that will spend just a tiny bit of extra time with me if I have questions.

Our first pediatrician was very cordial and pleasant. Unfortunately, she spent most of our appointment typing on her computer and a minute or so examining our child. After the minute or so was up, she said, “Thank you, your papers will be at the desk, take care!” She was almost out the door before I stopped her to ask her a question. She scribbled something on my paper and basically ran out of the room.

I don’t have firsthand experience as a physician, but I know that they are forced to have quick appointments. I also know that some physicians feel as if they have to work so fast that they eventually start to see their patients as products on an out-of-control assembly line. Therefore, I don’t really fault this physician for her behavior. Unfortunately, this might just be an example of our broken healthcare system in the U.S.

I hope for someone with compassion.

I personally know two mothers that recently lost their babies in the second or third trimester. So, when I started having abnormal bleeding in my third trimester, I was very fearful for my baby and almost started crying in the midwife’s office. I was embarrassed of being overly emotional and was (unreasonably) ashamed of being a burden on the midwife.

Instead of impatience or lack of compassion, the midwife took my hand and tenderly said to me, “It’s okay. We are going to figure this out. That’s what we are here for.”

I hope for someone that goes above and beyond my expectations.

When my daughter was sick and our regular pediatrician was on vacation, we visited another doctor with his own practice. When I entered the office, the “receptionist” was on the phone. When it was time for the doctor to see my daughter, the same “receptionist” ushered us into the exam room, took my daughter’s vital signs, examined her and called an outside vendor to order lab tests. A few days later, the same “receptionist” called me to see if my daughter was feeling better.

When I visited the office again, the same “receptionist” was talking to one of the dads in the waiting room. At this point, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut and asked, “Why are you doing everything? Is everyone on vacation for the holiday?” He told me that he could not afford his staff anymore. “In the same way that insurance rates are rising for patients, they are rising for us as well.” He went on to say that physicians will probably not be able to afford to have their own practices in the future.

This broke my heart. This kind physician took the time to call me to see if my daughter was okay, even though he had to be the receptionist, medical assistant and physician for his whole private practice.

Do you have a healthcare provider that goes above and beyond your expectations?

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This post was originally published on April 12, 2019. It was updated on August 7, 2020.

Lavender: the Swiss Army Knife of Essential Oils

During my last essential oils class, there was a lady in the front row that did not want to smell any of the oils. Before passing each oil onto the next person, she covered her hand with a napkin and said to me, “I’m sensitive to smells.”

A few days later, the same lady approached me and asked, “What was that one oil that I smelled before the class started? When I got home, I didn’t feel no pain!” I wasn’t sure which oil she was referring to, but I gave her a sample of lavender oil to try. A few days later, she bought a bottle of lavender oil and a diffuser-the lavender provided pain relief because it helped her to relax!

With the chemical components of linalyl acetate and linalool, lavender essential oil is widely known for its ability to calm emotions. It is also wonderful for the skin; it is useful to apply on burns, sunburns, cuts, hives and other skin imperfections. I rubbed it on my daughter’s legs when she broke out in hives. I also combined lavender with melaleuca, frankincense and coconut oil to make an effective “Owie Spray” that smells like sweet flowers!

Have you tried lavender oil, the “Swiss Army Knife of essential oils”?

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Is Pitocin A Curse Word?

After watching the documentary, “The Business of Being Born”, I knew that I wanted to have a natural birth. For my first two births, I declined all medications and my daughters were born in bathtubs. My son was a different story. With my son, my midwife was very concerned about the risk of infection because my water broke prematurely, and my contractions eventually stopped after several hours. After trying several natural interventions, she recommended Pitocin.

Pitocin is very commonly administered to pregnant women in the hospital. In my particular case, my midwife wanted me to take Pitocin so that my contractions would be consistent and strong. Truth be told, when I began brainstorming for ideas for this blog post, I originally intended to communicate that Pitocin is not as dangerous as some people believe it to be. Ironically, after I looked at the drug label, I decided that my original thought was incomplete and somewhat inaccurate. Here are the adverse events that have been reported with the use of Pitocin. This information can be found on DailyMed (a website created by the U.S. National Library of Medicine).

Adverse Events for the Mother

  1. Severe allergic reaction
  2. Bleeding after birth
  3. Abnormal heartbeat
  4. Fatal blood clotting abnormality
  5. Nausea
  6. Vomiting
  7. Pelvic bruising
  8. Bleeding in the head
  9. Episodes of high blood pressure
  10. Rupture of the uterus
  11. Fatal water intoxication

Adverse Events for the Baby

  1. Slow heart rate
  2. Low Apgar scores at five minutes (the Apgar score indicates how healthy the baby is at birth)
  3. Abnormal heartbeat
  4. Jaundice (yellowing of the skin/eyes)
  5. Permanent central nervous system or brain damage
  6. Eye bleeding
  7. Seizures
  8. Death

This might sound rather absurd and dramatic, but everytime my midwife mentioned the word Pitocin, it sounded like she was cursing at me. To me, the administration of Pitocin during labor was synonymous with more labor pain and complications for both my baby and me. Unfortunately, I think that the above list of adverse events validates some of my fears. However, in the end, I did receive Pitocin for a short time and at a very low dose. Thankfully, my baby was super healthy and we both recovered well from the birth!

Did the birth with Pitocin hurt more than the other two natural births? Yes, but keep in mind that my natural births were in water; water helps to alleviate some of the labor pain. After reading about the reported adverse events of Pitocin, do I regret my decision to have Pitocin during labor? No, due to my circumstances, the benefits of a low dose of Pitocin outweighed the risks of the drug.

To moms out there, this post is mostly for you. Whether you are interested in a natural birth or a medicated birth, please know that you have options; I hope that you will educate yourselves so that you can make the best choices for you and your baby.

Dear Mom, whether you choose a natural birth or a medicated birth, you are amazing for bringing life into this world!

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The RESET Button

You know that big red button that says RESET on it? Don’t you wish that you could hit that button whenever you mess up? Guess what? That button does exist! It exists in your mind. Here’s how it works for me.

When I am unfairly harsh with my daughter, I can choose to feel shame that affects my whole day, or I can apologize to her, hit the RESET button, and go on with my day.

Because of my skin issues, I am careful to take good care of my body. When I have trouble keeping up with my health routine and my skin starts to bother me again, I can choose to feel helpless or I can hit the RESET button and start tightening up my routine again.

When I am not as consistent with my business activities, I can get overly discouraged or hit the RESET button and decide to increase my activity for the next week.

If I don’t meet my goals, I can choose to believe that I will never achieve them, or I can hit the RESET button and figure out what needs to change in my life so that I can meet my goals next time.

After I make any kind of mistake—big or small—I can choose to let it ruin my day, or I can hit the RESET button, give myself grace, and learn from the mistake.

Do you need to hit the RESET button? You will be more successful in life if you choose to hit the RESET button sooner, rather than later!

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What is the Secret to Vibrant Health?

Do you want to know the secret to vibrant health? The secret is—there is no secret! What works for me may not work for you. Do you want to know why?

Every Body is Different

When I was struggling with a painful psoriasis flare on my hands, I tried different things for six months. The major changes that helped me were changes to my diet, a visit to a Functional Medicine practitioner, and a cleanse. When I visited the Functional Medicine practitioner, my lab results revealed Epstein-Barr reactivation and possible MTHFR mutation. Another person with psoriasis would have different laboratory test results, which is why my protocol might not work for another person with psoriasis. Some people with skin problems might only need to make minor changes to their lives, while others might need to make more drastic changes.

Everybody Has A Different Health Background and Environment

Some people had some health disadvantages starting at an early age because they were born via Cesarean section or because they only drank formula when they were babies. Some people constantly ingest antibiotics and medications that are harmful for their gut health. Some people are exposed to occupational hazards or many poisonous chemicals in their homes. Some people are exposed to toxic people at work and at home, leading to excessive emotional and physical stress. The fixes that I have found for my particular health background and environment would not apply to you because your health history and environment is different than mine.

So, the bad news is that there is no secret sauce for vibrant health. But the good news is that vibrant health is attainable.

Be Your Own Lab Rat

Start by making some small changes. If you don’t get the results that you want, add another small change. Add more water to your diet, add some greens to your diet, get rid of endocrine disruptors in your home, eliminate some processed foods from your diet, learn a new stress management technique, or start doing yoga. Keep track of how you feel after you add something new or take something away.

Visit A Functional Medicine Practitioner

A conventional physician will spend a few minutes with you and write a couple of drug prescriptions for you (in the long run, these drugs might do more harm than good). A Functional Medicine practitioner will spend a lot of time with you, (the consultations with my practitioner lasted for 60-90 minutes) will work to find the root cause of your symptoms, and will create a special care plan for you. My decision to see a Functional Medicine practitioner was one of the best decisions that I made for my health.

Keep learning and listening to your body. Vibrant health is within your reach. Don’t give up!

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