Tomorrow is my annual check up at the endocrine clinic in Glasgow. I am not looking forward to it, partly because it will be a waste of a sunny day but mainly because I dislike the attitude of the medical consultants that I deal with.
There is a tendency, particularly I believe in teaching hospitals, to treat results rather than patients. I have an illness which is fairly rare so I have had hundreds of tests - and I find that as soon as results come back the doctors stop listening to me and start checking numbers.
About six months after I began steroid replacement I read about a herbal remedy - rhodiola rosea - which is meant to support adrenal function and give more energy. I thought that I would give it a try and found the boost in energy to be amazing - I no longer had to spend the afternoon in bed in order to be up for the children coming home from school. At my next consultation I mentioned the rhodiola to the consultant and he completely dismissed it as though I had said that I had taken up witchcraft.
It occurred to me that if the rhodiola was having such a big effect, it should be being properly managed by a medical person. So I looked up medical herbalists in the yellow pages and called up Jean Riddell who practises in Helensburgh and Drymen.
The difference between Jean's approach and that of the hospital doctors has been amazing - she is interested in my long term quality of life rather than a set of figures and has addressed all sorts of issues, things which I had not worked out were connected to my lack of steroid production. We have been working towards maximizing my adrenal function and reducing my reliance on steroids. We have been able to take down the steroid dose which I am on by 3/4 which is far better for my general health - I look less like I have stored my lunch in my cheeks.
Yet I know that tomorrow the doctor I see will not be at all interested in the treatment I receive from Jean and will dismiss it all in an arrogant and insular manner. Euan's advice is to breeze in, tell him that I am keeping very well (which is the truth) and then breeze out again. I will endeavour to do just that and then take advantage of my time in Glasgow to hit the delis.
I would advise anyone who has a chronic condition - even something fairly minor - to go and see a medical herbalist - the first meeting is usually free and I have found the benefits to be amazing.