It happened to me: my refusal to accept modern medicine landed me in hospital

Confessions of a failed flower child
Publish date:
July 18, 2012
health, hospitals, natural medicine

Still smiling - would you believe.

People who know me know that I don’t do medicines.

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve even looked at a pharmacy and whenever someone suggested me taking a painkiller for a sore muscle or a throbbing headache I have just laughed dismissively and given them a “yeah right”.

You see, I don’t believe in medicine that is produced by profitable multimillion-dollar companies. I don’t believe in synthetic mass-produced pills are a way to heal yourself properly, especially if they come in happy packages with a two for one deal from a company which thrives on people getting sick.

This attitude towards modern medicine is one I adopted around the same time as I stopped eating foods that were fake during my last year at university. I thought to myself that if I would decide to truly love my body and stop pumping it full of e-numbers and neurotoxins, then mass-produced pills (which I was a big fan of for many years: big Ibuprofen head) were out of the question too.

So, I just stopped completely. And along with my new chemical and meat-free diet I found that I didn’t really need to take any medicines: I felt a lot better, had more energy, lost weight and hardly ever got sick.

A couple of years passed and sure, I got some minor colds a handful of times, but I could always battle it off with coconut water, Echinacea or just plenty off sleep and rest.

I know that makes me sound like I total Whole Foods mum or an extreme hippie, but I promise I don’t wear Birkenstocks or do urine therapy. Yet.

So, when my throat started hurting last week at a festival I was volunteering at, I thought I could just sleep it off. Except I couldn’t, because I was volunteering with the breakfast team, getting up at 5 am every morning and staying up until 1-2 am at night to listen to bands play.

During the day I started to feel like a zombie with a severe pain in my throat but I kept telling myself I would get better when I went back home.

On the last day at the festival I was so out of it, I couldn’t even help the breakfast team and passed out in a meditation tent on the camp for around 4 hours while my running nose was creating a little ocean around my head.

I knew I had to get some “proper” help and decided to approach a medicine woman who had her own herbal corner at the festival. Yes, that to me was considered proper help. She made me this brew of different herbs and flowers and since the brew tasted like cat shit I actually thought it would work and was sure that my excessive sweating and dizziness after drinking it was a sign of the herbs doing their thing which had worked on people for thousands of years and which was the only true and natural way to recovery. Mmm.

The next day I could barely talk and I thought with a slight feeling of defeat: 'What the hell, I never go to the doctor anyway so why not go and let them “diagnose” me. Just for my own amusement. Hah. Doctors. Don’t ya’ll know that trix are for kids?'

While I was in the waiting room at my local GP I surveyed the room and tried to make eye contact with all the sickos who were there coughing and sniffling. I felt like I wanted to stand up and tell everybody that I wasn’t really seeing a doctor, I could cure myself, I was just curious. It wasn’t like I needed a doctor. Gosh.

The doctor’s verdict after a blood sample was acute tonsillitis and she gave me a prescription for antibiotics for ten days. I stared at her in disbelief and told her I wasn’t really 'into medication' and asked her if I could just get better with some extra sleep, hot tea and oral salt flushing.

She sighed, turned around to face her computer and told me in a bored voice that if I didn’t go on this treatment the infection could spread and that I shouldn’t be so stupid to risk that. I nodded politely and said that I was sure it wouldn’t spread and then I got up to leave while I whispered 'bitch' under my breath.

I took care of myself for the next days with green smoothies, loads of sleep and rest and actually started to feel better. The pain in my throat was almost gone and I could finally breathe properly through my nose. Until I couldn’t. At all. And had to get rushed to the emergency room by my panicked boyfriend who broke all the traffic rules ever made in the UK (love you).

Yes people, by now you know what was up. The infection had spread to my lungs and I found myself not breathing, which isn’t the easiest thing to cope with when you kind of want to live.

I got hooked onto a machine so that I could breathe properly and was given loads of steroids, all while the doctors were shaking their heads in astonishment over my choice not to take the antibiotics, which had led me to this acute situation. Super embarrassing.

I feel all better now but I’m just in a bit of an existential crisis mode: If I can’t be the dogmatic flower child with infinite faith in her own body and hold this superior attitude to modern medicine then who am I?

And no there’s no lesson in this post people: I fucked up, or my body fucked, whatever you want to call it, and I surrendered to the white coats. When shit gets too hard that’s what we all do right? Right?

Camilla is blogging at The Raw Girl