Archive for May, 2013

The Power of Hope

May 30, 2013

hopeMy father died of brain cancer when he was only 55 years old. It was a tragic event for our family. I wished I could have done more to help him. I was just barely starting chiropractic college at the time. Even if I would have had all the training and experience that I have now, it was unlikely that I could have saved him, but I would have given it my all in trying. The approach of the medical doctors really bothered me. I know they would have also saved him if they could, and I realize that they were being honest with him. However, they robbed him of a crucial element of healing — hope. They told him that he would definitely die. In fact, the treatment that they put him through, which left him sick and bald, was, as the doctors put it, for research purposes only. By giving him a definitive prognosis like that, they essentially declared a death sentence. Every prognosis is nothing more than an educated guess. No doctor can absolutely predict the future. There should always be a balance between best guess and positive thinking.

I once heard of a lady who had some routine lab work done. The results the doctor got back for her indicated that she had a fatal condition and so he gave her only a few months to live. The lady believed him, got all of her affairs in order, and sure enough, in a few months, she passed away. Shortly thereafter, it was discovered that the lab had mixed up her results with someone else’s and that there was in fact nothing wrong with this lady. She died simply because she believed she would. She had lost hope.

On the other hand, I’ve heard of many people who were given only a short time to live, but they refused to give up. So years later, they were still alive and kicking. What you believe about your health, as well as the faith you place in things you are doing to preserve your health, will definitely have an impact on how healthy (or sick) you really are. One of the things that I never tell patients is that they just have to learn to live with their condition. It doesn’t mean that I will be able to help everyone and give them the relief they’re seeking, but that doesn’t mean that no one can. I believe it’s the height of arrogance for doctors to take the attitude that if they can’t help a certain patient with a particular problem, that a solution doesn’t exist. I tell my patients that although I can’t make specific promises as to how well they will progress under my care, I will always hope for and strive for the best. Because I don’t put limitations on the potential benefits of my treatment, I do sometimes witness miracles.

Certainly it’s unethical for any kind of doctor to make promises that he or she knows will not come to pass, whether it’s to make a buck or to build up his or her ego or just to make the patient feel better about the situation. However, no doctor has the right to rob someone of hope or to place limits on the patient’s ability to heal.

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