Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Allergies, FODMAPs and Food Confusion – Part 2

In my last entry I gave an update on my food intolerance and low blood sugar, and the sometimes contradictory diets that are out there to deal with these kinds of problems. 

This time I’m writing about the treatment that’s available – and why I don’t take advantage of it.

There’s a clinic in Melbourne’s outer east that orders faecal tests (too much information?) and then sells tailored probiotics depending on the results. I’ve wondered for years whether this was the optimum solution for me, and instinctively mistrusted the bog-standard (sorry) probiotics you see in health food stores.

And I’ve hated myself for not choosing the faecal test option, assuming the problem was self-defeating stinginess. But now that I know myself better, and can reflect on my experiences, I think I understand the reasons for my reluctance.

It boils down to this: the fact that mainstream medicine has so few answers leads to another problem -- beware the ones who do.

Beware them because they can see the miles-long queue and they have prepared for it. Their doctors are in demand and very important! They have their neat little administrative systems and payment schedules you have to fit into, and you’d better fit in if you want help.

Not only that but they want to flog you all the supplements they recommend you take. There’s a conflict of interest right there: rather than being designed for you as a whole person – your budget, your condition, your needs – they will squeeze you into one of their categories so they can sell you the maximum amount and make big dollars.

And they charge like wounded bulls because they know their patients have few alternatives. Actually, it’s not just their fault that the out-of-pocket expenses are so outrageous. Medicare doesn’t cover the battery of tests they will order, or the extended consultations, or the supplements.

But these clinics then add insult to injury by charging for stuff like supplying medical records. There’s none of that old-fashioned genuine relationship between even the busy GPs and their patients. These clinics are money-making factories.

They’re like the psychiatrists who are obsessed with your symptoms but don’t give a flying fruitcake about you – the person.

There’s an irony in this situation. If you have obscure ailments that come and go you will search around for individualised treatment because mainstream doctors haven’t a clue about your dietary problems.

Then you find yourself within a depersonalised system that has already decided what’s wrong with you and what the remedies are before the doctor has even seen you.

This is not dissimilar to the way some specialists behave. I won’t go into details about the arrogance of a certain derm I used to see, but at least he was always very punctual – he had his own strict rules as well as imposing them on his patients.

I haven’t been to one of these allergy doctors for decades but I tried a few in my twenties and early thirties as well as naturopath–homeopaths and Chinese doctors. Over those years, I probably spent thousands on a cure. These days I have zilch faith in homeopathy and I am sure herbs help some conditions, but not mine.

I could afford to pay for the treatment in the allergy clinic in outer Melbourne. I just don’t want to take the risk. Yet I admit to myself that if I had unlimited money I would probably try it. It’s the fear of throwing away good money on yet another phoney cure that haunts me.

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