I went to the doctors today to schedule a blood test testing the
CBC (Complete Blood Count)
Cmp Comprehensive Metabolic Panel)
Ferritin (Iron assess)
Lipid Profile (Total Cholesterol LdL, HDL, Triglycerides)
MMA (Methylmalonic Acid)
I read on many sites (such as happycow.net) that it's really important to be tested on all of these things. However, the GP would not want to do a blood test on me! She said I would only be allowed to do a standard CBC, and then, if something was wrong, do other tests.
I was astonished. I said, that all of these things are really important, and having been a vegetarian for 3 years and a vegan for 1 they should really be testing my B12 also. At the end the GP told me that she would only do a CBC, B12 and Folic Acid, (it truly felt as if I had to barter!) and if something was wrong i would have to go back there and do more tests. This is so obtuse, because while they are trying to save money doing less services as possible, they are spending more time and money, because people always come back to do more tests; also It feels like they are waiting until people get sick to cure them, rather then prevent the sickness!
I remarked that my last test I did was over ten years ago, and that I should really have it done properly; but the Doctor was unmovable.
I offered to pay extra to have everything done at my expenses but they said that they would not charge me for a blood test. I ended up leaving the place with no appointment because it's such a waste of time. This is frustrating because as a tax payer I am paying for a service, but I'm not getting the service in return!
I'm very concerned, since I'm also planning to start a family in the coming years and I want to make sure I can sustain a pregnancy on my current diet (I don't take any supplements) or whether I should add supplements to my diet right away.
Just the topping on the cake, the GP offered to take my blood pressure, as they do to make it look like they've done something! (yeah, I figured I would be up to the sky I was so angry). While she was taking the blood test she said:
"So, your vegan, does that mean that you don't eat fish?"
I was, like... you are a doctor and you don't know what vegan means?!
Anyway I patiently explain that I don't consume any animal products and she replied "What? So you just eat pulses?!" Like I was so weird? I wanted to say, you are the weird one, eating flesh of animals and mammary secretions that are supposed to be for calves!
Have you had a similar experience? Do you have any suggestions? I'm considering going to a private doctor, but I have no idea how much this is going to cost me! Thank you for your help, any suggestion is appreciated!
Posted by happycowgirl at 10/19/12 22:51:06Hi Giulia,
I can't tell you how many times I've had an experience like that in a doctor's office. It's beyond frustrating. I'm sorry you went through that.
What country are you in? You said it was a taxpayer service so I'm guessing not the U.S.
Any medical facility is only as good as its doctors. You'd think we'd be able to hold our healthcare professionals to a higher standard when it comes to being aware of vegan diets, but no such luck. In the U.S., I found it's worth it to shop around until you find a primary care (a/k/a family practice) doctor you click with. If you hit the jackpot, you'll find someone who actually knows what being vegan means, otherwise you're lucky to find a doctor who will listen to you explain what being vegan means and work with you.
You've obviously done your homework. Your list of blood tests is right on.
I'd walk into any doctor's office with a few print outs. The first one is Veganism In a Nutshell: http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/vegan.htm
It has a link you can click to download a PDF of the brochure. It's written from a nutritional perspective and will give your health care provider the very basics on what it means to be vegan. Even if the doctor's ego gets in the way and they blow you off, you can leave it in the exam room and I guarantee they'll look at it.
This next article is good b/c it discusses specific blood tests that are important for vegans:
If your doctor hasn't already figured it out, this will show them that you've done your homework and you know what you're talking about.
I know you're mad as hell and you should be. I'm not sure what kind of a health system you have, but can you go back to the medical facility and try again with a different doctor? Can you call ahead of time and be sure they'll give you the tests? Alternatively, can you call a private doctor's office and ask how much it would be to run these tests? If it's not too much, maybe it'd be better to just pay out of pocket and have peace of mind. Whatever you have to do, do it. I know this experience was frustrating but your health is the most important thing.
p.s. You mentioned you don't take any supplements. I'd be curious to see the results from your B12 test. I'd suspect your B12 levels are dropping if you've been vegan for a year w/o supplementing. That's one supplement I'd start to take right away. http://www.veganhealth.org/b12/dig
Posted by Pancakes at 10/21/12 09:16:33It definitely does depend on the doctor. When I went to have my physical, the blood test was very broad and without me having to ask for it, it included B12, D, etc. My GP knew what vegan meant, but not totally surprising did run into the standard protein thing a bit. It wasn't the normal "so how do you get protein?" type response, but instead was just a comment about how it must be harder to get protein. I let it slide since she in general knew enough and didn't criticize my diet or anything like that.
Posted by Longdrive at 01/12/13 08:44:45This thread goes to the of what exactly 'health care' means? I can only speak from my own experience, and that is U.K. state funded health care. The ethos of such is essentially to provide free medical facilities to pick up the pieces following either an accident or illness. Yes, there are state funded campaigns (eg. 'stop smoking') which are pre-condition preventative initiatives but state funded medicine on the whole comprises locking the gate after the horse has bolted. Although many doctors are open minded and liberal in their thinking they remain shackled as to what they are allowed to reasonably do, and where they cannot stray. That leads me on to the next issue namely that, for whatever reason, public (i.e. state funded) medicine and private paying medicine broadly speaking are not allowed to mix. Such is an anomoly which does not apply to U.K. dentists! There are other interesting quirks in the U.K. such as one can drive one's gravely ill wife to three or four medical centres and they all refuse to treat her due to her lack of full immigration status. Although there may be some cruel logic there it does not explain why, when one gets one's head straight and drives on to the local hospital, they immediately save her life saying "Sod passport status we are here to save lives!" The way the medical profession works in some countries is often bizarre. But what can one expect when they are controlled by politicians?