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A Cautionary Tale

Fear can drive one to desperation, and desperation can lead to actions that do harm. My fear of having wet macular degeneration in one eye and dry in the other could cause me to seek solutions that aren’t rational. I run the risk of doing too much and I run the risk of doing too little.

Meet Tom

How can you do too much, you ask? I once witnessed a beloved coworker's downward spiral after he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. In respect for his privacy, I will refer to him as Tom. Tom, after his initial diagnosis, did all the proper things. He got a second opinion. He sought out the best oncologist he could find. Tom went through chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Tom’s cancer would not go into remission. In hindsight, he should have gotten his affairs in order. He could have arranged hospice care. Tom could have sought comfort care and spent quality time with his family and loved ones.

What did Tom do?

Sadly, he chased radical and exotic cures. He wasted precious time and money. Tom was gullible and desperate, he was frantically searching for something that wasn’t there. Tom was preyed upon by imposters, he visited doctors in Mexico who claimed miracle cures. Ultimately, Tom died. He spent a lot of money and precious time searching for a cure he never found.

What does Tom's story have to do with AMD?

The cautionary part of this tale is that I need to remind myself not to “chase my tail.” There are false prophets among us. There are herbal remedies openly sold, that are unproven and untested. They are being touted as cure-alls and hold the potential to do harm. Supplements that are not FDA approved sell openly. Some supplements make claims that have not been confirmed through testing or supporting science.

Are all supplements bad?

Certainly not! Some of them are great and I take some myself. I just check with my doctor before doing so. Before anyone asks, I’ll tell you what they are. I use fish oil but my doctors are aware of all the drugs, vitamins, and supplements I take. That’s all I’m saying, just be careful.

Too much of a good thing?

There actually can be too much of a good thing, and anything in excess — whether vitamins, supplements, or food — can cause serious problems. In terms of vitamins, some are fat-soluble, meaning they are stored in the liver, and you don't need them every day, while others are water-soluble, and need to be replenished.1 That’s why I want my doctors to know everything I’m taking. My doctors will tell me if anything I’m doing is contraindicated and keep me from doing any harm.

Western versus eastern medicine

Western medicine places emphasis on the science of the body and how mechanisms in the body work. Eastern medicine or “alternative medicine,” takes a different approach, and focuses on the bond between mind, body, and spirit. Eastern medicine can work alongside western treatments to help the patient feel better and alleviate any side effects they might be experiencing.

Example of western medicine

Western medicine focuses on treating symptoms and diseases through the use of drugs, radiation, or surgery. Usually, with western medicine, a patient will work with medical doctors and other healthcare professionals such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists. Western medicine goes by many different names including allopathic medicine, biomedicine, conventional medicine, mainstream medicine, and orthodox medicine.

Example of eastern medicine

Eastern medicine may include many different spiritual activities such as meditation, acupuncture, tai chi, and yoga. I practiced yoga for many years and love it. I am about to resume the practice of yoga again. It will offset my current work at the gym and make me more flexible, and I think healthier.

Its all a balancing act

I'm just going to coordinate my health moves with my doctors. And in trying to do better, also strive to do no harm. We gotta be like Goldilocks, not too little and not too much....just right. I wish you all well on your health journey.

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