The following post is part of the on-going “I went to the Doctor” series, which details first hand experiences of Christian Scientists and former-Christian Scientists who sought medical care or treatment outside of Christian Science. We hope that by sharing our experiences using medical care that it will help break down the stigma and fear! All posts in this series will be both categorized and tagged as “visited Doctor” and linked back to the I went to the Doctor page under the Christian Science Healthcare Guide.
Today’s post the strange new world of “materia medica” is by former Christian Scientist E.G., who regularly blogs at http://emergegently.wordpress.com/
During 40 years (my lifetime) in Christian Science, with very few visits to the doctor–until I finally left Christian Science in 2010, I can count about 3 contacts for my own health with the medical system, not including when I was born. The first was to treat an ingrown toenail during my teens; the second was a required physical examination when I was 20 in order to obtain a permanent resident visa to live in the United States; and the third, five years later, was a major one: I broke both wrists after a fall off a zip line, and required surgery to repair one of them. Until 2010, that was my last personal interaction with the medical system. I consider myself quite lucky that I’ve survived as long as I have without medical attention. I do not attribute that survival to Christian Science, but rather a robust immune system, and pure dumb luck. I left Christian Science after I witnessed its tragic failure in my own family, and I firmly decided that I would not follow the course I saw my parents follow, dying horrible painful deaths all the while praying for a healing that would never come; dying from conditions that in at least the case of my father, could have been treated medically had it been caught early enough.
I was always a “lukewarm” Christian Scientist–I always wanted to see it work, but never really did. Nevertheless, for 40 or so years, I plugged away at it. When I finally left, the first big discovery for me was cold medicine. In the winter of 2011/2012, I had a series of very bad colds and flu. In the past, I would have played or prayed through it, and suffered the discomfort and sleepless nights, and recovered in the time it would naturally take to heal. Now, I pop a couple of night capsules, and the nights are much more bearable. I wondered where this stuff had been all my life! Ibuprofen for pain has been another wonderful discovery, especially when I dealt with a bout of tooth pain last year. Inhalers for when those nasty colds gave me asthmatic reactions. All of these things have been wonderful new discoveries for me.
Until recently, I hadn’t been connected with a regular GP, and went to walk-in clinics when needed. All of my dealings have been pleasant. I found my current GP via a friend/co-worker who is a very discerning and skeptical consumer of healthcare. I knew she was very happy with her doctor, and figured if she could be happy with her doctor, I would be as well. I’ve had my “meet and greet” appointment, and next week will be going in for my first physical in 20+ years. I couldn’t be happier with this doctor. The first good sign for me was when she didn’t look at me like I’d just grown two heads when I said I hadn’t had a physical in 20+ years, and had not until now even had a regular doctor. I explained a little bit about my religious background to explain it to her, and she just noted it all, and we went on with the appointment. I so appreciated the fact that she didn’t seem to judge me in any way for choices I’ve made in the past. Even my experiences at the medical lab where I recently went for routine blood-work were very pleasant. At every turn, I’ve encountered people who genuinely want to help me and to heal me when healing is needed. The only thing to fear is one’s own preconceived fears and notions. Sure, there is always the possibility of some dire diagnosis, but if that comes, there will be support and help, and most of all they will make you as comfortable as possible.
I also think back on my experience taking my Dad to the hospital in his last days. He was a Christian Scientist almost all his life, and in his latter days had become an uncharacteristically radical Christian Scientist. While my Mom had died earlier the same year in absolute agony with no pain relief offered, in a Christian Science nursing facility; Dad by contrast, as soon as he was admitted to the hospital, was made as comfortable as possible. His wounds and sores were immediately treated, pain medication was given, and his now diagnosed heart condition was put on the road to as much stabilization as it could be at the late stage it was at. While his prognosis wasn’t good, and he did end up dying a month later, he was kept as comfortable as possible, and received the best care I could have expected.
Bottom line, I’m not going to say that medical care is perfect and that it has all of the solutions. Nothing does. However, it can cure and/or treat many conditions, and more and more people now survive such things as cancer which in the past would have been fatal. Even if one does receive a fatal diagnosis, the last days do not have to be agonizing. At every turn, I’ve found people who work in this profession because they want to help and heal people. This has been my experience. To the Christian Scientist, or the recently left Christian Science person, I offer that there is nothing to fear from doctors, hospitals, or clinics. However, I do also advise that as with anything else, be a discerning consumer and listen to your intuition; and be very wary of self-diagnosis. WebMD and other such things can be the worst rabbit hole you jump down. Trust the relationship you establish with your doctor and seek a proper diagnosis if you think something is wrong. Many times, It will not be anything serious, but if it is, the earlier you catch it, the better the chances for a full recovery.
About EG: EG is a former Christian Scientist (a lifer–born and raised in it). A Principia College graduate/survivor, he is still amazed at how long he stayed in Christian Science, only having “emerged” from it recently. When he is not writing critically (and sometimes sarcastically) about Christian Science on Kindism or his own blog, Emerging Gently (he thinks Science and Health is the most eloquent example there is of someone saying the same thing over and over again for 600 pages, using the most complex run-on sentences–like this one he’s written here), or slaving away at his day job, and making sure the cat is fed, EG can be found throwing himself down the local slopes on skis in the winter, or on a mountain bike in the summer (see, you had to read this sentence at least twice to understand it, admit it). He also likes kayaking, snowshoeing, hiking, photography, cooking, long walks on the beach at sunset, and a cold beverage at the end of a long day. If sarcasm were beauty, he would be a male supermodel.
One thought on “the strange new world of “materia medica” – E.G.’s story”
Both raised in Christian Science, my cousin Joan and I did the unthinkable: we both married medical doctors. Needless to say, it was an abrupt end to attending Second Church. Our families could not relate to us and we were both in a particular kind of isolation, unused to what I now call real life and watching those we love still struggle through expecting the impossible. Finding this site is amazingly helpful for my own process.
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