Thursday, July 22, 2010

Saving Myself the Trouble of Feeing Stupid

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I can't tell you how much money I have spent out-of-pocket on alternative health care. I can't tell you because I haven't tracked it. I mention this because I really want to be able to demonstrate in dollar signs and numbers just how stupid I feel right now.

I have not always felt stupid about alternative medicine. On the contrary, I only started feeling stupid when I read the blog post Let Us All Praise Medical Woo. That post made me realized that 15 years ago I got suck into a branch of the healthcare system that appealed to my unmet medical needs, talked a good game, but ultimately delivered little in the way of health, care or results.

I shouldn't feel stupid. Even the Federal government has allocated money to alternative medicine via the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Plus I am in good company. Turn out consumers spend $34 BILLION dollars out-of-pocket on things like acupuncture, therapeutic touch and nutritional supplements.

So earlier this year when I was still feeling like I wasn't getting sufficient treatment for my chronic pain and fatigue through traditional medicine, I turned to alternative healthcare again.

My search lead me to a chiropractor who said he could help my fibromyalgia. He certainly said all the right words and demonstrated a technique on me during the free consultation he offered that convinced me he knew what he was doing. Then we got to the nitty-gritty. He wanted me to pay him up front for 26 sessions up front, offering to bill my insurance so I could get reimbursed after each visit.

Convinced he could really help me, we started to figure out how to get the money together to pay him.
Then just before my first appointment, I badly twisted my ankle and wound up in a walking boot. I called to postpone my first appointment. Much to my surprise, he wouldn't let me cancel the appointment. He said to me, "Well you need to find someone to bring to you to your appointment. Call your family and friends." Taken aback, I told him I doubted I could find a ride but would call back if my situation changed.

After my phone call, he started calling me like he was a crazy person. Initially, he called me several times a day, hanging up, not leaving messages. After a few days, I left him a message letting him know I wouldn't be seeing him. Despite that message, it has been almost month now and he is still calling me several times a week.

His wholly unprofessional behavior gave me the impression that he had already spent the money I was going to give him, the money my husband and I painfully scraped together and really couldn't afford to give him in the first place.

Needless to say, I will never go back and see this doctor again. And in the process, I have decided that I am going to save myself the trouble of continuing to feeling stupid about alternative medicine. I'm giving up on alternative medicine and keeping my money in my pocket.

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Heather said...

what a crazy doctor!!!!! I agree with you, I wouldn't go back to him either. Hope you feel better soon!

Edward said...

Selena, Just because you found a greedy and unethical chiropractor, doesn't mean you have to throw out all of alternative medicine. Research has proven the effectiveness of acupuncture, massage and guided imagery. Not everything is right for everyone, and you certainly shouldn't be throwing your money away, but it may be worth another look. Get referrals from people with similar problems who have had excellent results.

It is very sad that there are so many greedy and unethical practitioners out there giving CAM a bad name.

Oh What the Fog said...

Wow! Wanting the payments for 26 sessions upfront? Geez Louise! I'm so glad you found out via his psychotic calling rampage before you forked over any money. I'm constantly looking for anything that might help, but I've run into many questionable therapies for various things over the past 25 years or so and I'm very cynical usually. But, a knife under the bed really does cut the pain half. LOL! Sorry, couldn't resist. Patti

Migrainista said...

Thank goodness for your well timed twisted ankle - yikes! Sounds like you really dodged a bullet. I'm so sorry that you had this awful experience!

I think there are all kinds of legit alternative therapies and providers - but maybe more rip offs and con artists. It's tough to tell the difference. I've certainly spent money on things only to learn it was a rip off.

Selena said...

This guy I wrote about takes the cake, hands down.

But as I mentioned, I have been going to alternative practioners for 15 years.

Many providers have asked for payment up front, one session at a time, and left me to do the insurance billing. And, of course, the supplements they suggest cost money out-of-pocket and are not covered by insurance or FSA.

I realize that these providers have good intentions, but in 15 years I just have not gotten great results. Even when I go to providers highly recommended by friends and co-workers.

Perhaps I am immune to the placebo effect...

So I am no longer sold on the "miracle" of alternative treatments and am highly skeptical of them now. Plus I just don't have the money any more to keep trying things that may not work.
Trust me, I really want to try the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers, a quasi medical/alternative clinic for my fibro. But they just charge so darn much up front...