Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Why You Are Glad You Are Not Sitting Next to Me This Weekend: A Rant

I am studying this week.

I have to prepare for class this weekend. I am taking a class in Chiropractic Pediatrics and Obstetrics. The entire course is given over a three year period. There is a big test at the end that must be passed with moderate levels of competency in order to get the title that accompanies the program: Diplomate in Chiropractic Pediatrics.

I am in the first year. So far we have covered Pregnancy, Birth, and Evaluating the Neonate. Overall, these are areas of expertise with which I am very comfortable due to extensive first hand experience. I don't think I have learned everything there is to know by a long shot, but I also don't feel that I am learning anything I consider very valuable in this academic world.

In the birthing community, or any alternative health community, there seems to be so much talk about how a "new paradigm" about health is needed and the need to emphasize and rely upon the superiority of the systems intrinsic to the human body. In other words, "Nature Needs No Help, Only No Interference." But this appears to be just so much lip service, because the class work becomes 70-90% (western) memorization of "facts" and regurgitation of all the dire worst case scenarios and abnormalities.

Do you think midwives spend more time learning about what normal birth looks like or more time on what each emergency could be and how to freak the hell out. My midwife friend assures me that it is the latter. The same is true of the class I am taking. The pregnancy and birth portions have been all about awful things that might happen. (And the chiropractor wouldn't even be in the room anyway!) But the chiropractic student body, many of whom have never had children, are walking away with the impression that birth can be very dangerous and they had better have an OB ready to go with heroic measures or their child will likely die! With this background, it is little wonder that almost every woman who has had a C- section or another emergency measure can justify why it was "totally necessary" in her case. But all you have to do is look at the statistics to see that something is rotten in this scene. The fear is bred in every aspect of our education.

I know that comfortability and knowledge when dealing with the exceptions to the rules is an important part of providing health care. But I also see first hand that the time and emphasis given to these less typical situation is what leads us down the slippery slope of distrusting the body's ability to cope with crisis and relying on others expertise rather than looking inward to the amazing strength and knowledge of our bodies.

For example: In a threaded discussion question, we were asked what our recommendation would be to a parent who had brought in a 6 week old infant with a 102 degree fever. Our assigned textbook states that this child should be referred to the ER after being adjusted because it theorized that a child's immune system is less developed and that age and this fever could signal a more serious illness or infection. I imagine that the "break through moment" intended in this discussion is that we should actually adjust this child, thereby boosting the immune response, prior to sending them off to the ER doc in politically correct CYA fashion.

But this advice, while "safe" in the legal sense, astounds me!

Fever is the body's innate mechanism of dealing with pathogens. While a newborn's immune system is less well developed, how do we think it becomes the normal healthy immune system it needs to be? By being challenged and reacting normally.

I mean really, what are they going to do in the ER? Continue to fuss over this baby (when it should be snuggled in bed with its mama, nursing!), getting the parents further riled up, alarmed, stressed, and distrustful of their own instincts (which is all being transmitted to the baby energetically), and ultimately the ER personnel will likely either send them home with admonishions to "watch closely" for further developments or perhaps they will attempt to artificially lower the temperature with anti-inflammatory medication, thereby both thwarting the body's innate immune response and introducing nasty chemicals into this tiny little body. Uggh. And this is the safe thing we should recommend to our patients. I say: "No Way!"

No wonder we are a society which throws drugs (er...medications) at every little thing and no wonder we have problems trusting our own bodies and instincts when it comes to birth, food, health, whatever. Even those who are supposedly our "alternative" leaders are giving us the nice safe advice that they were taught to regurgitate in school. I've had it! This is such a waste of my time. I have so much to learn and instead I have to deal with more of this shiite.

I think I understand why this happens in so many well intentioned alternative health professions: chiropractic, midwifery, what have you. In order to justify, in educational circles, the stringency and validity of your education process, you must teach something quantifiable. In other words, in order for an educational process to be recognized in our western society as valid, as containing actual working information, it must have set parameters and hours of study and in essence, a bunch of stupid busy work, so that it will be accredited and valuable to the rest of the western world. Anyone dealing with homeschooling issues understands what I am talking about here, I'm sure.

So, the creator end up veering farther and farther away from their original intention and away from true organic learning, as they incorporate more and more western based tripe into their process. It's a fucked up vicious cycle and I am currently caught in the vortex.

So, off I go to memorize all the horrible disorders and diseases and their differential diagnosis so I can be recognized as an expert in my field even though these conditions are rare, often iatrogenically caused, and I could easily look them up if confronted with such a case in real life.

But here's what: I vow, here and today, that when I teach this and any other subject matter, I will be constantly striving to not spend disproportionate time regurgitating dire worst case scenario emergencies, but will instead let the educational process evolve organically with an emphasis on how we can change the world, instead of fit in.


Sage Femme said...

ah, a six week old baby with a 102' fever presenting in the ER will no doubt get a spinal tap. :(

how I wish you lived close!

ChiroMum said...

Well said. Especially the last paragraph. Thank you for this.