The Education of the Patient, Part 2

If I’d Known Then What I Know Now . . .

I know that health care is a cooperative process and that I’m responsible for my own health, so what could I have done differently?

Well, first of all, I could have done a little more homework on homeopathy. Had I done that, I would have understood the necessity for avoiding antidotes for a year or two. But I don’t feel that patients should have to become experts on a subject before they seek help. I think I was as intelligent, informed, and involved in my health care as anyone should have to be. For better or for worse, patients rely on their doctors to tell them what they need to know, so it will always be up to the doctor to try to anticipate the level of education that is necessary.

Second, I could have listened to my gut more. I never felt really comfortable with this doctor on a personal level. I always felt that I had to pry information out of him, that I didn’t even know what questions to ask or how to get more information when I found his explanations sketchy and unsatisfactory.

Third, I could have asked for recommendations and referrals when I decided to do constitutional homeopathy. I relied on this practitioner’s enthusiasm for homeopathy, but I never researched whether he was the best homeopath available. I also never asked him about his training. (Frankly, I had no idea at the time that so much variation in training existed.)

And while there was no such remedy then, I hope that someday there will be professional homeopathic licensing standards so I and other patients at least won’t have to guess about their homeopath’s training. This won’t necessarily weed out communication problems, but it will give patients some comfort and knowledge without having to become experts themselves.

Oh, well, live and learn. Amazingly, this experience has not soured me totally on homeopathy. I know that every field has its duds, and I attribute the problems I experienced to Dr. X personally and to our interaction, not to homeopathy in general.

When I was sick last summer with tonsillitis, Dr. X’s office called me, asking whether I wanted to come in for a follow-up homeopathy visit. Apparently Dr. X still doesn’t get it.

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