Living Frugally: Your Doctor Could Be Wrong

I have three slipped disks in my lower back. For those with medical knowledge, they are L4, L5 & S1. For those that are not, they are just above my tail bone. I also have scoliosis in between my shoulder blades. Needless to say this is a painful situation, especially on days when both conditions hurt at the same time. At age 39, I find it difficult to do certain things I really enjoy like teaching hip hop dance/choreography, 110 meter hurdles, martial arts tournaments, and even stuff I don’t enjoy like long distance running. Any race longer than 110 meters is just insane!

FrugallyI had very reluctantly accepted the idea that I’d never again win another martial arts trophy or compete in CrossFit® games in the future. For someone who’s been athletic ever since birth this is depressing and annoying. The mental frustration is sometimes more painful than the injuries themselves.

My wife recently showed me a YouTube video of a man who was told by multiple doctors that he’d “never walk without a crutch again.” This man has a wife and children. He felt helpless to provide for his family as any good husband does. The mental strain of being so limited would bring him to tears at times. I can relate to his psychological battle.

Ready for the good news? He heard there were exercises that could fix his knee injuries! That’s not a typo and before you say it’s impossible, keep reading. As I watched this video with my wife I witnessed this determined father doing the exercises he’d heard about. He strained to get his body into the Yoga-like positions. He fell over, again and again. However, by the end of the video he was not just walking unaided by the crutches, but RUNNING!

My point is that your doctor may be totally wrong in his/her prognosis. It happens all the time. Doctors are flawed human beings who make mistakes in their offices and on the operating table. They are not perfect, yet, we act as if they are. They say take the pills and we do it, they say “it’s incurable” and we believe it. They say “you’ll never teach martial arts again” and I say “I’ve had enough.” Enough paying for follow-up visits to their offices, enough of paying to see specialists, enough of paying to remain injured, missing out on the many activities that help keep me healthy. And especially enough of paying for medication that only helps me deal with pain by putting me to sleep. I’ll keep my money in the bank and fund my retirement accounts, save for my child’s education, save for vacations, and fund my gym membership, thank you very much. I will focus on maintaining my fiscal and physical health!

PersistenceIt is not mere coincidence that there are hundreds of YouTube videos of folks defying the conventional medical wisdom. Is the hopelessness offered by the medical community something to be held onto? Are we supposed to accept a life less livable, less active, and less fun based on the opinion of a flawed human just because they have more training and a piece of paper hanging on their office wall?

I certainly refuse to do so. I am done being one of the medical field’s statistics. I want to join those folks who never gave up, beat the odds, and proved the doctors wrong. Just as there are those that say you can never be wealthy – the naysayers – there are those that say you have to accept what a doctor tells you. Not so. Therefore, my new routine towards dealing with these injuries – and consequently saving wads of money – begins today, March 15th, 2014.

I’ll update you on my progress and the money I save along the way. CrossFit® games, here comes SavvyTaz!

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. Free To Pursue, I really appreciate your comment. I completely agree with your assessment; doctors are trained to deal with problems by medicating us, period.
    Sadly, they get this training by those creating the medications. (MAJOR conflict of interest)

  2. Doctors are not taught how to deal with a patient’s ailments with anything other than medication and surgical intervention. I appreciated the opportunity to read the book “Overdiagnosed”, because it offers irrefutable evidence that there is virtually no upside for a doctor not to prescribe drugs and/or medical procedures & tests.

    As a coach, I can tell you that I have seen people heal themselves through physical activity, physical therapy and massage (L3/L4 injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, head aches, asthma, stress, depression). It can absolutely be done. Personally, I’ve fixed my “permanent” back ailment and am healthier now than a decade ago…no more pain meds!

    If you go about it with a logical and patient approach (checking ego at the gym door), you can absolutely build your strongest body yet. Also, I suggest you be as picky about your coach as you are about your physician.

    Good luck to you! I’m excited to hear about your progress.

    • Some great points, Free to Pursue. I absolutely agree with the idea that physical activity – and a great diet – is the best, longest lasting way to heal much of what ails you and to build physical and mental strength. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and add to the conversation.

  3. Sorry to hear about your ailments, SavvyTaz. Hope whatever way you choose to go helps to heal you. You are so right about some doctors just giving meds to kill the pain. I think sometimes that we are funding their retirement!

    • Lol. “I think sometimes that we are funding their retirement!” Great point, Karen. While there can be some benefit to their treatment plan, ultimately each individual is responsible for their own physical – and spiritual, mental, and fiscal – health. All advice should be considered within the context of how it impacts your own bottom line.

    • I’m with you 100% Karen. We ARE funding their retirement. My wife has been in the medical field for over 13 years & she verifies that certain doctors will schedule more surgeries based on their personal money goals/needs. Some have no problem keeping patients on medication just to fund their shopping habits VERY sad.

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