I just want to say that I am not a medical professional. The opinions expressed in this post are purely one hundred percent my own and should be read as such. What works for me may not, or will not, work for you.
For years, I suffered from recurring yeast infections. Those are not comfortable and are the worst cock-blockers in the world when it comes to sexy times. I think what irritated me the most about the doctor I had been seeing was that she just kept throwing the same solution at the problem: 3-day pill or suppositories and a list of things I couldn’t do (sex) or eat (bread, sugar, etc.) while I was on them. Come back in two weeks and we’ll check again.
For the record, I fucking hated the suppositories. They were always messy—inserting them as well as after inserting them. The pills weren’t any better. They’ll temporarily make the issue go away and fuck up your bowel movements. If they didn’t work, then the solution was to give me a longer dosage. I began to think that my doctor’s mentality was “Well, we’ll just keep doing it this way because I know this works.” But if it’s a recurring problem, then maybe there’s an underlying issue? I dunno, just a suggestion.
I started to get frustrated and thought “I need to find something something else.”
I’d been aware of alternative medicine. When Mr. Ex and I first started dating, he was going to massage school. Nothing panned out from that, but he was also into martial arts. He’d lost a lot of weight before I’d met him due to that. After spending a week at the Shaolin Temple in China, he became interested in Eastern medicine. When he got sick, he never went to the doctor.
It must be a male thing.
He’d bought a book of Chinese herbal remedies and whenever he got sick, he would flip through it and try something. I remember trying a cold remedy from the book and it was practically gone the next day.
Flash forward to 2012.
After another failed attempt at curing yet another yeast infection, I decided to do some research and see if I could find a naturopathic doctor. I’d found a practice and stayed until 2018. During that time, I had four different doctors. My first doctor, one of the co-founders, ended up leaving to go teach, but I stuck it out.
Because the second doctor I was assigned to found another issue: bacterial vaginosis. A particular stronger strain that was really in love with my body and never wanted to leave.
Funny how my other doctor never came to that same conclusion.
In addition to that, I also still had to deal with the regular ‘ol yeast infections. Oh joy.
We had to tackle the stronger strain first before clearing up the infection.
It took a lot longer to clear up both those issues even as the lack of intimacy in my marriage continued to grow. It’s hard to get in the mood when you’re trying to heal your hoohah. Mr. Ex didn’t understand why it was taking so long.
Well, I had to take a longer—and stronger—dosage of the pills to get rid of the BV. When it came time to focus on the infection itself, I decided to suck it up, give my colon a break, and do the suppositories.
“It doesn’t seem to be working,” Mr. Ex would complain.
Because it’s a natural remedy.
“I don’t understand why you stick with it. It seems to be taking a long time,” he’d complain some more.
Because. It’s. Natural. Am I talking out of my ass here? But hey, thanks for your support and understanding during this stressful time.
What I had a hard time understanding was why he was throwing shade on an industry that he had, at one time, made plans to get into. Throwing shade on alternative medicines in which he himself was using. Even going so far as saying that naturopathic doctors weren’t real doctors. My own doctor would’ve had something to say about that, but I’m sure that snarky comment had come from a lonely, dark place called Lack of Sex.
Yet, here’s what I’ve learned about the world of alternative medicine since I became a part of it:
Insurance companies still treat the alternative medicine industry like a nappy-haired stepchild.
I had been a temp for two years and during that time I was on Mr. Ex’s crappy medical plan. I had to pay out of pocket for all my services. Just the visit alone was usually between $103-$180. If I was adding on any supplements then that total would jump to over $200. Sure, I could’ve sent in a claim and get reimbursed. But have you ever tried doing that? Yeah, me neither and I didn’t want to. I imagine it was be like trying to get a live person on the phone at the IRS. During tax season.
This just seemed to reinforce Mr. Ex’s comment about them not being real doctors. I mean, if your insurance doesn’t acknowledge alternative care, then why even do it? Of course, that all changed when I got hired at my previous job in 2015. I signed up for the bennies when I became eligible, went to an appointment under the new plan, and got one helluva great surprise when I went to pay.
“OK, looks like your copay is forty dollars for this visit,” the front desk lady had said.
I blinked at her in surprise.
“I’m sorry. Copay forty dollars what?” Had been my response.
“Your copay for office visits is forty dollars,” she’d repeated.
My medical plan had been Cigna.
Office visits—TO MY NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR—were only forty fucking dollars.
Oh, and if my doctor had medically prescribed massage or acupuncture?
The first six sessions were free.
I’m pretty sure I did the Snoopy Dance when she told me that.
I can tell you that the only things I miss about that job (I was laid off in Nov 2019, conveniently a few weeks before Thanksgiving) are my coworkers (from my old team) and the EXCELLENT medical benefits.
I don’t know if Cigna is the only healthcare plan that believes in equal opportunity medical care—or if it was just that particular plan--but I’m glad it worked for me when I had it.
Alternative medicine is not a quick fix.
At least, not the majority of the time. Typically, you would start to see improvement over time. I remember getting a sore throat so severe that I lost my voice. My doctor had given me a tincture to gargle with a few times a day. I started using it the minute I got home. Hours later, I was able to talk in a whisper. Two days later, I had my voice back.
When I get yeast infections (not as often anymore), I need to do at least two rounds of the 5-day suppositories before it goes away.
My older sister takes supplements for brain fog and deficiencies in Vitamin D, Vitamin K, iron, magnesium, and zinc. She’s been taking them for five months now. Over time, she’s noticed that she can recall things quicker, her energy levels are stable throughout the day (no drops or crashes), and if she gets sick, it doesn’t last long or become full-blown.
Did I mention that the improvement would be gradual?
Alternative medicine doctors are not created equal.
Four doctors in six years with the first practice. Another medical issue popped up (severe anemia) and I was ready to get a different perspective. Additionally, that practice now only has one doctor and I figured she would be overloaded. So, I found another primary doctor here. While that was a good start, I moved on after a year when she suggested a solution for my anemia that I had already tried and wasn’t willing (read: insurance wouldn't cover treatments; too expensive for out-of-pocket) to do again. Last year, after attending a workshop, I finally found a doctor whose methods resonated with me here. If it’s not working, move on.
Yes, Mr. Ex, naturopathic doctors are real fucking doctors.
To this day, his comment still gets under my skin. Not real doctors? As compared to who? Pediatricians? Dentists? Podiatrists? Neurologists? Ophthalmologists? Naturopathic doctors may not be able to perform surgery, but for all intents and purposes,they’re able to do everything else a Western doctor does. Except their solution of choice will be natural over something filled with chemicals.
Western medicine is DEFINITELY not the end-all, be-all solution.
Your doctors and insurance companies want you to believe that, but it’s not. Doctors get compensated for pushing those medications on you; and the insurance companies will continue to dictate the type of care they think you should have versus the type of care you want to have.
Yeahhhhh, I’m not drinking that Kool-Aid anymore.
I have to laugh, and shake my head, when I see the commercials: “This medicine is going to help you with <INSERT MEDICAL ISSUE HERE>, but beware, the side effects could be depression, skin irritations, dizziness, nausea,suicidal thoughts, nightmares, rage tendencies, heart palpitations, insomnia, swollen tongue, numbness in limbs, etc. Oh, and don’t operate heavy machinery or drive while you’re taking this. And for God’s sake, don’t take this if you’re pregnant,want to get pregnant, or on these other specific medications because they might cancel each other out or you might accidentally kill yourself.” I’m sorry, but that long-ass laundry list wants to make me run in the other direction.
My Dad gets an infusion every eight weeks for his rheumatoid arthritis. While he was in the hospital a month or so ago, they took him off of it because it lowered his immune system. I can’t help but wonder if there’s a natural solution he could be taking for that.
Alternative medicine isn’t for everyone.
Some don’t believe in it, had a bad experience with it, are too scared to try it, or feel that Western medicine works better for them.
And that’s fine. This is a #NoJudgementZone.
I just needed something more.
I got tired of the same old, same old.
I got tired of being just another medical file in a big ass drawer.
I got tired of taking medications that temporarily solved the symptom, but not the underlying issue.
I understand and am fully aware that this is the only body I’ll ever have. It’s not like that sci-fi show on Netflix, Altered Carbon, where I can slip my consciousness into another “body sleeve”, flip a switch, and SHAZAM! New-used body. Man, wouldn’t that be something? That really is a good show, though, so if you have Netflix, you should check it out.
But since this is real life, not science fiction, and I have the body I have, I’m going to do what works for me.
And you should, too.
Related Entries: Entry #2: Why I Went Awww Natural with my Beauty Care Routine
Black goddess musings on life and becoming a sustainably-conscious human being.