Traditional Therapies Vs. Modern Medicine

This time last week I was faced with a dilemma.  Do I give in to ‘Modern Medicine’ and surgery, or do I continue to try and find a natural solution at let my body heal itself?

I know this is a little off topic from my usual language and learning posts, but I hope my learning experiences will help some other people out there.  Sorry to those who have a queasy stomach  – the image here is a picture of a growth that was found on my spine during surgery a couple of days ago.  Something that even an MRI didn’t pick up.

Living With Pain

I had a martial arts accident at the age of 16.  Long story short, my ribs were smashed and my back pulled out of place over time leading to ongoing chronic lower back pain and severe sciatic pain that would recur every few years when I least expected it to – usually when lifting something unevenly like going bowling or carrying my laptop around on one shoulder.   With the help of Chiropractor and Natural Therapist Dr. Don in Bangkok, I could usually get the pain and inflammation under control through manipulation, cold and hot dips and massage.  He is generally against medication.

Since November 2012, my latest bout of back problems and sciatic pain started again.  This time it was different.  It was more intense and debilitating than usual.  I managed several trips overseas, learning to put up with the pain and just ‘walk through it’ over 6 months.  In June 2013 I was finally able to get an appointment with Dr. Don and after a month, I could start to move again, though I could still feel the problem hadn’t gone away.

While lifting a 40inch flatscreen TV a couple of weeks ago, I sent my back into a new dimension of pain.  This time no matter how much therapy, alignment or even drugs, the pain wasn’t going away.  It hit a crescendo last week where I was crippled in Hong Kong.  I couldn’t sit down, stand up, lie down – sitting in a taxi brought tears to my eyes and I blacked out on several occasions.

I am Anti-Modern Medicine by Instinct

In Bangkok I rushed straight to Dr. Don and he tried to put things in place.  I think through my screams I drove people out of his practice.  Finally after 3 hours, he suggested I contact a sports Dr. at Samitivej hospital in Bangkok who was a patient of his.  In countries like Australia through the national health care system, you hear stories of hospitals doing the minimum work possible to save costs. In Thailand, you hear about hospitals going over and above their duty to ‘find’ as many ailments as they can to add to your bill. I have also worked for many pharma companies and as a result don’t have a great opinion of the ethics of modern medicine. He assured me that this Dr. wouldn’t take me for a ride.

I finally made it to the hospital which was an ordeal in itself.  After the Dr. examined me, he admitted me and sent me for an MRI that night.  The MRI showed that it had gotten worse over the past few months – but didn’t actually show how much worse.

To Get Surgery or Not to Get Surgery

People were telling me with the best intentions ‘whatever you do, don’t let them operate on your spine’ – ‘DON’T OPERATE!’.

Not being able to stand the pain anymore, I decided on getting surgery from one of the top surgeons there.  He did micro surgery the next day.  To everyone’s surprise, he found that there were sacks that had grown onto the vertebrae / discs that were filled with liquid and continuing to fill, crushing my sciatic nerve.  There is no way that this would have been alleviated without surgery.  There was no way they would have even known what was happening without surgery.

Now, I am a couple of days after surgery and walking around in a back-brace very gingerly.  I can hobble around and my back is strengthening by the day.

This whole experience has taught me that while it is nice to think that there are natural remedies for everything and that modern medicine is generally ‘bad’, there are occasions where it is the only option.  I just wish I had have done this surgery a long time ago.  It would have prevented a lot of pain and I wouldn’t have baulked at doing many things as I have done over the past year because of my debilitating pain.

Natural Remedies Vs. Modern Medicine … be informed and don’t be too stubborn.  It could cost you your life … if not at least your legs.



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Written by

Stuart Jay Raj