My U.S. healthcare adventure began before I stepped foot on American soil. To get my green card I needed five vaccinations, which included three shots in a day. These vaccines were supposed to protect me and other people from diseases I’d already had as a child.
As a Holistic Health Practitioner I wanted to avoid the vaccines because I knew they would compromise my immune system and, besides, my body required no such vaccines. But the American government forced me to get them, so I did, and I suffered the consequences and side effects. I came down with mononucleosis (for the second time), which made me deaf in one ear for three months. I also got gastroeneteritis and vasculitic urticaria, an autoimmune condition that affected my skin and blood vessels.
While covered with bruises and rashes and itching everywhere, I went to the physician assigned to me by my insurance company. The doctor said stress had caused my condition. Forced to follow his protocol, he wanted to send me to a gastroenterologist because of my history of Crohn’s disease, and immediately called the gastroenterologist. The gastroenterologist wanted to schedule me for a colonoscopy the following week. I thanked him but declined the appointment. A colonoscopy was the last thing I needed.
Weeks after consulting the doctor, I was back in Italy. The dermatologist I visited there correctly diagnosed me with vasculitic urticaria. The cost for the diagnosis and cure? Not a cent. Public healthcare covers such expenses. I also went to a homeopathic immunologist for another perspective and opinion. The immunologist confirmed the diagnosis and addressed the root cause of my condition in order to avoid other reactions from my vaccine-compromised immune system.
Back in the States, I received a letter from my insurance company inviting me to the hospital for my free flu shot. For over a year I’d been struggling with the consequences of vaccines. Now they want me to get another one? I’m 42 years old. Thanks to millions of years of evolution our bodies at that age can take care of their own problems. Again, as a Holistic Health Practitioner, I know that flu shots are for the elderly whose health is compromised by age. At 42, your body can fight and defeat the flu while also strengthening itself as a consequence, and without compromising the immune system.
My second experience with American healthcare involves my recent mammogram. America’s an incredible country with countless opportunities lacking in my own country. For example, here I waited less than 10 minutes at the doctor’s office. The technician was friendly and professional, the service optimum. But I was perplexed when I received the medical report in the mail, wondering if a lawyer had written it. The words had been carefully selected. “We found no evidence of . . .” the letter said, but that piece of paper was no diagnosis, and its sentences seemed too intent on dodging legal action. Clearly, the doctors take no responsibility for their diagnosis because they’re afraid of being sued.
So what have I learned about healthcare after a year of living in the U.S.?
Doctors here have both hands tied behind their backs. At best, maybe they can lift a finger, but a finger is not enough to exercise a proper doctor’s profession. Should they make a mistake, they risk legal action, so they follow the protocols established within the context of probabilities. Patients are clumped together as wholes. There is no aptitude or intuition involved in their approach.
In a society overflowing with lawyers seeking clients, doctors are forced to follow published standards of treatment in order to protect their profession. Such fear can also cause over-diagnosis and/or over-prescription. For a doctor to prescribe me one month of ephedrine and 20 days of cortisone for an earache is like hunting bees with a bazooka.
Though these treatments are designed to relieve symptoms, they don’t address the root cause of the problems.
Their approach to prevention is also questionable: vaccines, colonoscopies, and mammograms are not “real” prevention. Discovering cancer when cancer already exists in a patient does not parallel with my own holistic practice, which focuses on not getting sick in the first place.
I am a scientist. I’m not against progress, antibiotics, or vaccines, which have saved countless lives. I’m against the multi-billion-dollar industry that flourishes on what should be emergency remedies. I disagree with a system that tricks people into treatments and medication that should be nothing more than a last resort.
Doctors are hostages of patients (and vice-versa) and also of pharmaceutical companies. Too many qualified and competent doctors in America are forced to follow the moneymaking objectives of billion dollar corporations.
Americans are smart. They’re entrepreneurs and tend to be pragmatic. This country’s citizens have built incredible infrastructures and technologies like green energy, nature reserves, vast public areas, and topnotch hospitals that provide services essential to economic activity and improved quality of life. Americans know what “customer service” means and respect a meritocratic system where the best excel. But sometimes they lack the tools to face the crunch of insurance and pharmaceutical companies.
In more culturally energetic environments like California, many people, both patients and doctors, now benefit from alternative medicine. People prefer a preventative approach. This concept is carving new trends toward organic food, body energy work, and spiritual healing, while also opening the door to holistic approaches such as Ayurvedic medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
I dream of a world where doctors encourage patients to maintain health instead of waiting to relieve symptoms with side-effect-causing drugs or easily avoided surgeries. What a utopia we’d have if physicians were paid only when their patients were healthy, which would mean they were doing their job.
For now, I dream, and also seek to cure myself and my family with my own natural remedies that cost next to nothing and help us avoid wasting money on useless drugs and avoidable procedures. Holistic medicine keeps us healthy—physically, mentally, and emotionally.
What better approach to healthcare would you want?