on wisdom and teeth

1013374_479246245492724_714511161_nSome time ago, when I finally picked a dental office to work with, they did a new patient exam which included a 360 x-ray (180? not sure it was most impressive) of my head to see all my teeth. The hygienist noticed I had two remaining wisdom teeth: one was horizontal and un-errupted, while the other sat around doing nothing. Over the course of our conversation she mentioned she’d recently taken her teenage son to have his wisdom teeth removed as she put it, they “knocked him out and pulled all four at once.”

At the time, I thought that course of action was barbaric. All four teeth at once? That’s cruel! Knock them out for a simple dental procedure? That’s crazy.

Then, not too long ago, I found myself reassuring my oral surgeon that don’t worry, “I haven’t gone without local anesthetic since the late 1980s/early 1990s” and that “it was only two, maybe three that were filled without it and they were baby teeth.” Then he mentioned how he would likely need to chisel the remaining wisdom tooth out — the roots ran very deep, and asked what sort of anesthetic I’d picked for the extraction.

My other wisdom teeth had been extracted with local, they’d needed to come out quickly — they were impacted, at least one was infected, and I remembered the experiences very vividly. In the past, had been an urgent phone call to the office, not a consultation to discuss the best course of action — and what would be most comfortable for me. In my mind, it was “a routine extraction” and I’d toughed out two before, why would this one be different?

When I scheduled the consultation and appointment, I’d initially picked local, but after hearing chisel I decided to deffer to his thirty-plus years of expertise and I decided to go with general instead.

I called a friend of mine who used to work as a dental surgical assistant, she talked me through the process and assured me that I would not remember anything. There would be no pain, and I would not remember anything. I could go home and sleep for a few hours, take my prescription pain medication and I would be okay.

It was liberating to know that I didn’t have to be awake for the procedure. It was comforting to know that the oral surgeon was compassionate — sure, he could’ve taken care of the tooth while I was awake, but I would probably still be curled up in bed in tears. In the past I would’ve said selfish, I’m sure it is easier for him to extract teeth from people who are out cold, but I have to agree, it is a win-win, he can work without fear of them freaking out, and the person who is out does not remember the procedure.

I admit, I did a fair bit of crying. Crying because I was terrified of a chisel being used on my tooth, terrified of being put under, terrified of being in pain. Talking to my friend helped with the terror, and the tears turned to tears of anger. If there really was a less painful, less traumatic way to take out wisdom teeth why hadn’t my dentists offered it before? Why hadn’t my parents offered it?

I think it may have been because we didn’t have dental insurance growing up (much less health insurance, pfft, that’s like asking God to cause problems for you), and I already had a well-established terror of dentists, and medical procedures. Dr. Do-it-all didn’t do oral surgery (at the time of my first extraction some were still below the gum line and un-errupted) and I would’ve had to be recommended to an oral surgeon.

I went to my oral surgery appointment with a mix combination of trill and terror. Thrill, that if the oral surgeon and my friend were right, I wouldn’t feel any pain during the procedure and I wouldn’t remember any of it. Terror, because it is dental work, and that’s what happens.

My husband drove, I filled out the paperwork, reassured them that I’d not eaten in “at least 8 hours.” I was taken to one of the rooms in the back, hooked to some monitoring equipment and fitted with an oxygen mask that just covered my nose. I cried a little, oxygen masks make me a little uneasy. My husband told me I looked like a 747. The oral surgeon came in and fitted me with an IV (full disclosure, that part did hurt a little – needles make me squeamish), told me to wiggle my right foot and “think happy thoughts.”

My husband remembers this a bit differently, apparently I was simply panicked: I lay in the chair, frozen in fear, my heart rate and blood pressure climbed — I’d like to blame the wrist-monitors, beeping monitoring machine, and freaky nose-mask. He talked to me, and the numbers went down a little, and as the anesthetic kicked in I slowly started to go limp and the numbers dropped to more acceptable levels.

That’s really about all I remember, except for some very vivid dreams about sand worms on Dune (it was like an odd surreal comic from the Oatmeal), and then waking up with everything surprisingly in focus — they’d put my glasses back on for me, and very tired. I came home, had some liquid yogurt, took some hydrocodon (to keep the pain at bay) and then crawled into bed and slept for two solid hours. Then I watched Nazi documentaries on Netflix, because losing Berlin to the Russian’s is far worse than having a nearly-pain-free wisdom tooth extraction and I wasn’t feeling up to indulging in the pint of comfort ice cream in the freezer just yet.

My husband commented that I looked a lot better than I did the last time, and I reminded him, the last time I was still a Christian Scientist, had been fully aware of what was going on, in pain because it was impacted (and infected), and then I’d gotten to take public transportation home because he couldn’t get off work (in his defense he also wasn’t aware of how deep my dental issues ran at that point, we’d only been married a few months). I also did not hallucinate, because this time the pain medication is worked and I did not have an unpleasant reaction. I also went to an experienced oral surgeon, not Dr. Do-it-all’s East Coast Twin.

The longer I am out of Christian Science, the more I realize that I’m not “giving up” by “giving in” to “materia medica.” I have had enough, I’ve had enough unnecessary and untreated pain, enough infections, enough dental terror. I don’t think dental work under general anesthetic is practical all the time (child care and a day of downtime are not always easily obtained), but for things like wisdom tooth extraction, it was definitely the right choice for me.


unprepared to be my own advocate

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.

Today’s post is by former Christian Scientist Bacon.

Having health insurance is still a very new thing for me (thanks, ACA!) and having only been to the doctor twice previously (with no insurance), I was more intimidated about the paperwork than anything else… especially when I showed up at my primary doctor’s office and found out the address on the insurance card was wrong and had to call and change it to their primary location. That was about a 15 minute hassle, but I was able to go in for what I guess, for most people, is a routine checkup. And, for the ladies, the pap smear.

I had a pap smear done in 2009 by a remarkably gentle, matronly sort of doctor whose bedside manner was fantastic. I barely felt anything. This round was by a younger general practitioner whose specialty was something other than easing the nerves of patients. The pap smear itself was an odd sort of prodding feeling, but on a scale from pleasant to unpleasant, it wasn’t much worse than unpleasant and at least, thankfully, very fleeting sensations.

At the time of the appointment, I also had a horrible cold. And, regrettably, I downplayed it. The doctor offered to prescribe antibiotics and I had foolishly declined, thinking that 3-4 nights of
constant nose-blowing and coughing was improvement… on the bright side, in order to have blood work done, I was required to fast overnight (12 hrs of no solids, then only water until a few hrs before the sample is drawn) and return in the morning. The morning visit was when I piped up and said “I should have taken your advice about the antibiotics” and they obliged. Three weeks of medication later, the sinus infection finally let up – but I had needlessly gone an extra day, prolonging the situation which hurt only myself.

One thing I have noticed about having been raised in CS is not only downplaying problems that I myself have, but also those of others. There’s the gut feeling that if you acknowledge your problem and verbalize it, others will affirm, confirm, and make the problem that much more real. And I never wanted to hear of anyone else’s problems lest I internalize, personalize, and manifest those issues myself. Yet CS doesn’t believe in contagion…… (unless it’s mental?)

Being my own advocate was something I was not prepared to do – not knowing how much of what kind of pain would require medical attention, and not knowing how to admit that I didn’t know how to handle symptoms, much less the doctor’s instructions (“what do you mean by take an over the counter antihistamine?”) …but with enough questions and patience, it’s possible to muddle through. And it’s ok to call back and say that you really should have emphasized your sinus infection instead of ignoring it. But these are the things that will be a steep learning curve, long after leaving CS, but hopefully things will get better.

Coughing, coughing, and coughing from Untreated Allergies

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.

Today’s post Coughing, coughing, and coughing from Untreated Allergies is by former Christian Scientist Rogue Sheep.

The coughing started one summer in elementary school. The details are a little fuzzy at this point. I remember being on family vacation and I had developed a really bad cough. I would cough uncontrollably for minutes, feeling like my head was about to explode, and always needing to spit up phlegm. Sometimes I coughed so violently that I ended up throwing up.

When we got home from the trip, I was still coughing. I stayed home for the first month of school because I couldn’t stop the coughing and throwing up. I thought my eyes were going to burst out of my head.

My parents had been trying to treat it with Christian Science, but finally they took me to a doctor. I was diagnosed with Bronchitis and given this pale purple liquid medicine. It tasted awful, I always put up a fight, and generally just coughed it back up. They gave me a choice between relying on Christian Science treatment or taking the medicine. Because I loathed the medication, we turned back to Christian Science.

When I finally stopped throwing up so much and just had occasional coughing fits, I went back to school. I remember having to step out of the classroom to have my honking coughing bouts and I’d run to the bathroom to spit out the extra saliva and phlegm. Eventually the cough cleared up.

But as the years went by, I kept getting these really bad coughs, usually after a cold, and the coughing lasted at minimum 3 weeks. I was always carrying around tissues to spit in, or I’d hide in the bathroom or go outside to cough my brains out. This was a problem I was constantly praying about yet was getting no relief. The cough and chest congestion usually just ran its course and yes, 3-4 weeks later I was “healed.” Funny how that happens. My chest and stomach would be exhausted from all the coughing and sleep was pretty evasive. I eventually just learned how to sleep through my coughing (which I’m still capable of doing as an adult, much to the dismay of others). I can’t tell you how many cough drops I consumed in my teens, it was one of the few “material remedies” that was ok to use. I now despise the taste of most cough drops.

I stopped practicing Christian Science right as I was getting into the working world and I was still getting these bad coughs after a cold. I still had to run outside my office so no one would hear the full extent of my coughing. It was embarrassing.  And my co-workers started noticing too. I can tell you this: when you work in a quiet office with non-Christian Scientists, nobody likes to be around you when you’re coughing. If you sound like you’re coughing up a lung and just getting worse, it’s important to take steps to show you’re not a big contagious mess. I couldn’t just stay home because these coughs happened so regularly and lasted such a long time. I remember my co-workers would ask if I’d gone to the doctor yet. Sometimes I would lie and say yes because I didn’t want them to know that I was scared to go to the doctor despite having gone to Urgent Care once before.

So I continued to do a lot of self-diagnosing and self-medicating. I spent countless hours reading labels at the drug store. I had given up on most herbal remedies and I think I tried almost every single variation of cough syrup and cold remedy from the shelves. Mucinex DM became one of my saving graces, but it still wasn’t perfect. Finally I started going to those walk-in clinics at CVS and Walgreens (though I don’t see them around much anymore). They were close to work and they felt a little more approachable than Urgent Care. I remember one doctor prescribed me a cough syrup, and it actually worked! It was amazing. Something finally brought me relief for at least a few hours at a time.

At this point I still hadn’t taken the step to find a primary care doctor. When you go to Urgent Care or clinics, it’s often different doctors each time. In hindsight, I wish I’d found a doctor to go to on a regular basis much sooner. I had been so afraid that a primary care doctor would judge me for having no medical history or they would want to talk about more than my cough and end up finding some heinous disease hidden in me. Silly, I know. But by going to different clinics on my as-needed basis they really only assessed me in that moment and could treat symptoms, not root causes. They couldn’t really review my history of this coughing because my records were here, there, and everywhere at clinics.  A primary care doctor might have been able to help me cut to the chase sooner.

During a routine visit unrelated to one of these coughs, my doctor recommended over-the-counter allergy medication to manage my allergies to cats and dust, among other allergens. Little did I know that managing my allergies would have many more benefits.

I’ve since realized that most of my “colds” that led to the coughing were actually started by nasal allergies and the nasal drainage that ensued. By managing the early sniffly symptoms of allergies with Claritin (Loratidine) or Claritin-D (Pseudoephedrine, you have to buy this from the pharmacist), I’ve dramatically reduced the number of these “colds” that progressed into Bronchitis.  Imagine that! Relief from years of suffering and hiding in bathrooms so I could cough. I used to bank on these coughs happening at least 2-3 times a year. At the time of writing this, I haven’t had one of these bouts in at least 3 years. It’s amazing how much time I wasted being sick.

Discovering Urgent Care thanks to Laryngitis – Rogue Sheep

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 Discovering Urgent Care thanks to Laryngitis is by former Christian Scientist Rogue Sheep.

I can still remember the turning point in my departure from Christian Science. I had already stopped going to church for a few months and was taking pain relievers for headaches and periods. But then I got my first big test of this new lifestyle.

I had developed a really bad sore throat to the point where I couldn’t talk and there was a ton of pressure and pain in my ears. I was pretty clueless about anything from the drugstore other than ibuprofen, so I started trying all sorts of homeopathic teas and supplements. They were derived from nature, how much damage could I do, right? Basically anything I could find at Whole Foods, I bought. I drank copious amounts of medicinal tea, consumed tons of herbal throat remedies, and even tried this ear oil (it was gross) to relieve the earache.

After about 2 weeks of being really sick, I was at my wits end. Around midnight one night, I started crying because I couldn’t sleep from all the pain in my throat and ears. I was so upset because I didn’t know how to do anything for myself other than pray…but the last thing I wanted was Christian Science! I was going to do this medically and going to the Emergency Room was the only terrifying step I could think of doing next. I waited until the next day to take action.

Of course the next day was a Saturday, so I had no hope of going to a regular doctor’s office anyways (not that I knew how to do that either!). Still fearing the Emergency Room, I stopped at the drug store first and asked the pharmacist (with what little tidbit of a voice I had left) if he could recommend any of the over-the-counter (otc) drugs. He could tell I was beyond the help of otc remedies and suggested an Urgent Care center. What was Urgent Care? Oh, it’s like a walk-in clinic, open on weekends and cheaper than the Emergency Room. I was embarrassed that I was so clueless.

All it took was one appointment at the Urgent Care center and I was diagnosed with severe Laryngitis (which is contagious, btw). I distinctly remember the doctor telling me, “Don’t wait so long next time.” I couldn’t agree more. Don’t wait until you’re absolutely miserable.

He gave me a few prescriptions, and I went back to that same pharmacy to have them filled. I remember one of the prescriptions were these HUGE pills. I was already pretty inexperienced with swallowing pills and I was struggling to get them past my gag reflex and my swollen throat. After many failed attempts and a soggy pill on the counter, I finally called the pharmacy and I learned I could cut them in half. Man, I felt dumb. (Note: not all pills can be cut in half. Definitely ask your pharmacist beforehand).

After taking the drugs, I actually started feeling better that afternoon. I was amazed. These were my first prescription drugs as an adult and I was in awe that they had started working so quickly. Prayer had never helped me like that. After this experience, I never looked back at Christian Science as a solution. I still had lots of unfounded fear of going to the doctor, but I took it one minuscule step at a time.

About Rogue Sheep
Rogue Sheep was raised as a Christian Scientist, went to a Christian Science summer camp, and attended Principia Upper School and College. She made her break from Christian Science in 2005 and there has been much trial and error since then. Over the years she became comfortable in her secular lifestyle and didn’t give Christian Science much thought, let alone think about searching for ex-Christian Scientist support groups or blogs. But that changed recently. And now she wants to share her stories of figuring out how to navigate the medical world with the hope that it might help someone else who feels just as clueless as she did.

48-hour stomach bug – Kat’s Story

The following is a guest post I wrote that was originally posted at Emerging Gently. I am sharing it again here as 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.

Our youngest child has been hit by the 48-hour stomach bug. It came on suddenly and without warning, one moment riding a bike around the yard, the next projectile vomiting all over the patio. The tummy troubles continued intermittently through the night, and by morning we were all gross and exhausted — except for the child, who managed to go back to sleep after projectile vomiting all over the big bed.

The child was quite well rested and managed a hearty breakfast, sadly it did not stay down for long. Clearly something was up, so we reached for the phone.

At this point I should explain that up until a few years ago, my husband and I were Christian Scientists. In a previous life, we would have immediately started “working to know the Truth” about the child, and the Unreality of the Situation. Our puke-soaked bedding was Error trying to lie to us. The mountain of laundry was Malicious Animal Magnetism. Our child was God’s Perfect Child, nothing was wrong, it was all in our perception of the situation. In our previous life, we would have reached for the phone to call our Practitioner, who would reassure us that the child was Perfect and give us some pull quotes from the Bible or Science and Health (often taken directly from that week’s Bible Lesson), for us to study in our path to recognize our child’s perfection and God’s ever-loving care.

I know my child is Perfect, that is obvious, but it is also puking all over the floor every few hours and having exploding poos out the back of the diaper. While praying about it is great, ever-loving caring God is not omnipotent enough (or willing) to do laundry, mop the kitchen floor, or comfort the child.

So we called our pediatrician’s office, it was a Saturday, so we left our information and a brief description of the symptoms. The the on-call doctor got back to us within half an hour. We talked through the symptoms, and were told that it was most likely the 48-hour stomach bug that was “going around.” We needed to keep an eye out for dehydration, and if all the child ate was crackers and toast that was fine. If things “didn’t improve” in the next 24-48 hours we should call back.

In some ways, talking with the pediatrician had the same impact talking with a CSP did: it allayed our fears. Unlike calling a CSP, we were given practical steps we could take. Our concerns were acknowledged instead of dismissed as a lack of faith.

We did the practical thing: stayed at home, kept things low-key, offered simple foods (mostly crackers), and made sure the child had a full sippy cup of restorative liquids. We did not pray (unless you count “desire is prayer” — oh God make the pile of laundry do itself), we did not “turn to the books” for passages of comfort, and we did not try and convince our not-yet-three year old that they were “God’s perfect child.”

We did reassure the child that they were okay, they would feel better soon, they really should drink some more restorative liquids, and yes, they could have another cracker (or two). We snuggled, we read books, we broke our no-TV rule and watched a short nature DVD.

It was quite a relief not to have the added stress of Christian Science hanging over us. It was not up to ME (or my husband) to see my child as God’s Perfect Creation. It was not up to MY THOUGHT to heal them. Their stomach bug was NOT a reflection of my perception of them or the situation. Instead of burying myself in “the books” for an answer, and distancing myself from the situation, I was able to be present for my child and their needs; read Goodnight Moon a dozen times, wash five loads of laundry, and mop the bathroom floor (again).

About Kat: Kat is a former Christian Scientist, Principia College graduate, and full-time Domestic Goddess/Engineer. In addition to thinking critically about Christian Science, she enjoys long walks in the woods (usually with her kids), long walks on the beach (usually with her kids), and dark romantic comedies (after the kids have gone to bed). Depending on the day, she believes in the Celestial Teapot, the Sparkly Pink Unicorn, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  For more about Kat and her critical musings on Christian Science, religion, philosophy and occasionally parenting, you can visit her site, Kindism.org

my mother’s turn to medical hospice – B.C.D.’s story

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 my mother’s turn to medical hospice is by former Christian Scientist B.C.D.

This is the story about my mother’s turn to medical hospice in the final weeks of her life. She is not alive to tell the story herself, but I believe she would approve my account of it here.

My mother (her name is Ruth) was a devoted, life-long Christian Scientist who practiced “radical reliance.” She would tell you that she experienced many wonderful healings in Christian Science.

In her mid-80s, Mother began experiencing worrisome symptoms that did not yield to Christian Science treatment. She worked diligently to heal the problem, and she had the help of one, and then another, Christian Science practitioner. In time, her condition worsened to the point that she could not eat, and she decided to admit herself into a Christian Science nursing facility.

Her condition deteriorated and she finally acknowledged that she was not going to “meet” the problem and that she would “pass on.” Mother was not afraid of dying, but she was disappointed in herself: She had sometimes said that “Christian Scientists should not get sick and die”; rather, she believed that when the time came to die they should demonstrate a quick and painless passing from a healthy human state to their next plane of existence. But that’s not how it worked out in her case.

The Christian Science nursing staff at the sanatorium made no adjustments to my mother’s care as her distress, exhaustion, and pain increased. They continued to place a full tray of food in front of her three times a day even though she could not keep any food down. Neither could she sleep. My brother and I smuggled some sleeping pills to her, which she was grateful to have.

One morning she telephoned begging me to transfer her to a medical hospice. Later that day, I and a social worker from the hospice accompanied an ambulance to the Christian Science nursing facility to accomplish her move. The director was at first reluctant to release her, but after discussion she was allowed to leave.

Mother was admitted to the hospice and was made comfortable in a room by a medical nurse. The attending physician came by to interview her and explain what care they would provide to ease her through the death process. Mother asked a few questions and seemed satisfied. After the physician left, she turned to me and said, “These people are so much more professional” (those are her exact words). Mother died peacefully under palliative medical care about two weeks later.

Mother remained committed to Christian Science to the end. In her view, her turn to palliative medical care in her final days was consistent with Mary Baker Eddy’s provision for relief from extreme pain as stated in “Science and Health” (p. 464). As I reflect on her experience, I am at a loss to understand how the Christian Science community can avert its eyes from the suffering of their faithful members as they go through the human death process.

the strange new world of “materia medica” – E.G.’s story

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.