In January 2009, my father was concerned with some of the symptoms he was experiencing in his body. So he called up his trusted family doctor who, after consulting with him, ordered a routine colonoscopy. But unfortunately, the procedure would prove to be anything but routine. In short, the gastroenterologist perforated my father’s colon. He immediately went in for emergency abdominal surgery and a week later died from complications.

Ironically a procedure created to save his life actually killed him. This apparently happens all the time in the medical world.

A year later, I heard from another doctor that colonoscopies shouldn’t be performed on anyone over the age of 80 because the risks outweigh the benefits. My father was 83.

Many people have said, “Oh, but at least he lived a long life.”

Yes, he did and I’m very grateful for that. But that’s not the point. My dad was  a professional dancer who performed and taught up until his dying day. He had the body and will to reach 110, and the real tragedy here is the autopsy revealed a very minor condition that could’ve been solved with over-the-counter drugs. A colonoscopy had not been necessary after all.

My intention here is not to bring you down but to create awareness. As many of us know, doctors are not gods. They are human beings just like you and me and make mistakes just like we do. Yes- listen to them. But the second we place all our trust and faith in our doctor, with no regard to our own resources, we are putting our lives on the line.

We need to be proactive with our health. With growing rates of cancer and other disease we must be our own health advocates because the truth is, no one else will. A doctor spends an average of 20 minutes with us during a visit whereas we spend 24/7 with ourselves. Do the math.

We need to listen to our bodies, do our own research, trust our instincts, and get second and third opinions. If my father had, he might still be alive.

What are your thoughts? Have you or your loved ones ever experienced a misdiagnosis? Or gone into the hospital and come out worse than you went in? Or the other side of the argument, do you think the internet does more harm than good? I would love to hear your opinions on this.