Christian Science Health Care: when to call your Doctor

This is part of my on-going series of posts on Health Care for Christian Scientists & Former Christian Scientists.

For those of us who grew up being reminded that our aches, pains, and runny noses were “not really a part of us!” it can be easy to over look little problems that often grow into larger ones.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • If you have a primary care physician (PCP) that is any good, then anytime you have doubts you should call the office (during normal hours) and explain what is going on and they will tell you if you need to come in. The most important thing to remember is that a PCP or any medical professional is working FOR YOU. Especially in the PCP realm, you are paying them to be your medical resource, therefore you should feel comfortable (and they should encourage you) calling and asking questions.
  • When a doctor tells you something it is their ADVICE, it is their expert advice after years of schooling and years of treating patients but there is no requirement for you to follow what they tell you. The flip side of that is the medical provider needs to protect themselves from liability so if they “prescribe” a treatment or give advice and you choose NOT to follow it, they may drop you as a patient.
  • If you have insurance, or can afford it, you should start with an annual physical exam so that your first exposure to the doctor is in a calm situation – not an emergency, where things are scarier. Also, it might seem like you’re complaining about everything, but in Christian Science sometimes your sense of “normal” is not really normal.

Most minor things get better on their own. Colds, viruses, minor cuts, aches and pains that go away in three to four days don’t need any medical treatment other than perhaps some over the counter meds to treat the symptoms.


Colds usually last a week and are caused by a viral infection. When an illness persists for a couple of weeks or gets severe quickly and lasts more than 2 to 3 days its time to get in touch with the doctor.

If the cold is accompanied by, bluish skin color, which indicates a lack of oxygen, periods of stopped breathing (apnea), seizures or convulsions, high fever persistent vomiting or dehydration go to the ER.


Muscle pain, joint pain can be a normal part of life especially if you have physically demanding jobs. Again, chronic pain (pain that does not get better/gets worse over time), and recurring pain is something to discuss with your primary care physician.


If you’re unsure, most ERs will let you call ahead to make sure it is actually an “emergency” or you can call your PCP’s office first. 

  • chest pain especially if the pain moves to an arm or jaw needs to be treated urgently ambulance and/or ER because this can be sign of a heart attack
  • Headache with any change in vision or a headache lasting more than a couple of days or a headache with a nose bleed, again this can be an urgent situation
  • Any trauma to the head or torso or upper legs needs an ER. Trauma to extremities can typically be handled at an urgent care unless it is severe.
  • Any slurred speech, weakness on one side, vision changes in one eye are signs or a stroke,

    call an ambulance, this needs to be treated quickly at a stroke center, possibly NOT the closest hospital (ambulance crew will know where to go)


Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

  • S *Ask the individual to SMILE.
  • T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A
  • SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently)  (i.e. Chicken Soup)
  • R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

NOTE: Another ‘sign’ of a stroke is this: Ask the person to ‘stick’ out his tongue. If the tongue is ‘crooked’, if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke.

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

The American College of Emergency Physicians has a comprehensive list for when you should go to the ER:

  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure
  • Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness
  • Changes in vision
  • Confusion or changes in mental status
  • Any sudden or severe pain
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Suicidal feelings
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual abdominal pain

Please remember, this is intended to offer people support, ideas, and resources. It is not in any way intended to be a substitute for medical advice or care. Please see a health care professional if you have concerns, especially if your concern is serious!

If there are any topics or information I’m missing, or that you would like me to address, please leave a comment, or e-mail me at: kat (dot) at (dot) kindism (at) gmail (dot) com