I’ll be honest from the very start; I really hate this statement.

Please DO NOT Confuse Your Google Search with my Medical Degree.

A growing number of doctors use the same message to express their community affiliation. It’s on their twitter accounts, office walls, coffee mugs, this message is literally everywhere.

Here’s one example…

Do Not Confuse Google with Medical Degree

As a patient who cares about the future of a medicine, I find this rather strange.

It doesn’t have anything to do with being good doctor, but it does have everything with to do with being aligned to industrial healthcare goals.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to blame the doctors.

My intention is to show what happens and why this statement isn’t sustainable if we really care for the patient’s wellbeing.

The best way to do so is to share my personal story with you.

The following is a real example of what happens when you try to be a ‘blindly aligned patient’ in a system like this.

So, enough small talk. Let’s get into the story.

Failure Number 1

It all started four years ago when my MRI results showed an early stage of calcaneal osteomyelitis.

A local orthopedic surgeon explained it’s quite difficult to treat, but I was in a “it’s not the end of the world” mood. The fact that this all happened three years after I beat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma made me feel overly confident.

Knowing nothing about osteomyelitis at that stage didn’t help either; everything I heard from my doctors sounded right. Why doubt the advice of someone who has ten years of medical experience?

I followed every piece of advice, from collecting all the necessary test results to soaking my foot in appropriate bath; I was a perfectly “aligned” patient.

For the sake of better chances, my local orthopedic surgeon referred me to an even more experienced surgeon. The best in the country, they said.

And that’s when being an aligned patient failed for the first time.

In a quick 5-minute meeting, he looked at the MRI and gave me the task of buying specific antibiotic impregnated beads for surgery. Surprisingly, I didn’t get any further explanations on treatment or answers to my burning questions.

To be more precise, he answered all the questions with “you don’t need to worry about it.”

Don't even worry about it - paternalistic

On my way out, I got a phone number and instructions to call after completing a task.

So I did. I bought the product and made the call but I never got an answer back.

Failure Number 2

After two months of failing to schedule a pre-surgery meeting, I gave up and went back to my local hospital to ask for another option.

Local doctors refer me again, but this time to one of the best plastic surgeons in Europe.

Unfortunately, that’s where being an aligned patient failed for the second time.

I already knew a few things about osteomyelitis and I was skeptical about the proposed treatment, but the doctor used medical terms and decision urgency to make my arguments irrelevant.

As it turns out, they weren’t irrelevant after all.

Seven months after surgery, a problem occurred and an MRI showed osteomyelitis again.

cartoony boomerang

The doctor perfectly solved the soft tissue problems, but completely overlooked the bacterial biofilms.

I am at the start again, but in worse situation and one year older.

Almost Failure Number 3

After failing two times, I slightly changed my approach. Instead of looking for a direct referral from local doctors, I tried to speak with all specialists who treat bone infections in surrounding countries.

Using friend connections, I found three doctors and all of them came up with a similar treatment proposal. A proposal that involved removing the whole calcaneus from my foot.

It was impossible to get them in a conversation about different, less disruptive options.

Maybe they didn’t seem to notice, but there is a human being beyond the osteomyelitis diagnosis. A 23 year-old ME who really loves writing, basketball, and traveling.     

The treatment doctors suggested completely excluding two of these things from my life. I couldn’t accept such proposal “out of the box.” Being pushed to the corner, I pulled the last card from the sleeve – Googling and my Internet skills.

Searching treatment for ostemyelitis

I search the latest clinical trials and found new treatments and breakthrough methods for treating osteomyelitis. After studying the methods, I used Voila Norbert to dig out e-mails of doctors who stand behind them.

Out of the blue, I am in a contact with doctors who reinvented osteomyelitis care. We are exchanging emails, photos, and discussing the best options for my foot.

Eventually, one of this brilliant people solved my problem. Not only did he solved my problem, Doctor W really changed my perception and showed how minimally disruptive medicine looks like in a real life.

Yes, I needed one more operation, but I only stayed four days in the hospital and the whole treatment didn’t negatively affect my future.

After 18 months of disappointment, my entire pain and fears went away in just few days.

Closing Words

True, I don’t have medical education and I know very little about human bones and bacterial infections.

However, using my own brain and spending one day on the Internet helped me find information which my doctors didn’t know, or didn’t share with me.

Unlike my regional clinical specialist and industrial healthcare referral channels, Google helped me. I found a great doctor who can really treat me and won’t ruin the rest of my life.

That’s my story, and the real reason I hate this picture from the start.

As you know, this system is full of traps and opportunities to fail.  

We already have rushed meetings and primarily money-oriented goals. The HUGE electronic monster is already between us. On the top of everything, doctors started to promote a campaign that discourages patients to get involved.

Should we really support the zombification of patients? Do we really want to follow this path?