When confronted with having to make a decision about a course of action to take, it always helps to know ALL of your options. It is very difficult to make great decisions with limited information and data. It also makes it difficult, and often dangerous, if you only know some of the available options.
So many of our patients come into our office and are extremely grateful and excited to hear the options we have to offer to help them with their specific health complaint. And a question I often get is, “Why didn’t anyone else tell me about this option?”
Many of the patients we see have already been to many other offices, seen many other doctors, have had many tests, and most have tried many other therapies. And many of these patients were told something that is not only incorrect, but often very dangerous. They were told, “This is your only option.”
If a doctor tells you that this is your only option, what they often mean is that this is the only option they have for you, or this is the only option they know about. The truth is, there are many, many options for almost all known conditions. And because each person is different, one option may work well for one, come up short for another, and (in regards to drugs and surgeries) cause great harm or even death to another.
Obviously, we trust that healthcare providers abide by the oath they swore to… First, do no harm… so we would hope that those providers are not giving you incorrect, and potentially dangerous, information in an effort to make money or build their business. And we trust that if they are telling you that something is your only option, they truly believe it is, in fact, your only option. However, any fairly educated individual has to know that there are almost always other options.
It is imperative that healthcare providers share with you any other options that might be beneficial in your case, or at least suggest that you seek out other options before committing to their recommended treatment. Obviously, life threatening situations are the exception, as you may only have one option.
A common story from many of my patients is that they are told by their medical doctors that they have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. They are then often handed a prescription. These prescriptions are often given without any discussion of lifestyle choices such as eating habits, exercise regimens, or stress levels (all of which are able to affect blood pressure, cholesterol, and almost all other chronic illnesses). Patients are often required to take the initiative themselves to ask if they would be able to do a trial run of lifestyle modifications before embarking on the medication route. In this case, the words “this is your only option” are not spoken, but implied. Many patients assume this must be their only option.
I’ve seen hundreds of patients that have been told medication, surgery, or some other treatment or therapy was their only option (even as extreme as limb amputation in one case), only to find out later that they could recover without such treatments.
So, please know that there is almost always another option. And know that it makes great sense to start with options that are the least invasive, safest, and most natural. Your health, and life, could depend on it.
Remember… when someone tells you something is your only option, what they usually mean is that it is the only option they have for you, or the only option they know about.
When that question I get so frequently comes up… “Why didn’t anyone else tell me about this option?” it usually comes up after we have helped fix their problem. And my most common answer to that question, while shaking my head in disappointment… “You’ll have to ask them.”