In both cases, the correspondents were concerned that not going to a doctor could have lead to something vital being overlooked, health-wise, that could have serious repercussions down the road.
I appreciated the sincerity and concern expressed in the emails; but it underlined to me the gap between 'reality' and 'rhetoric' when it comes to modern medicine, as I'll explain now.
The rhetoric (ie, the marketing) about modern medicine tells us that there is a cure for every problem, and a drug for every illness. We're encouraged to get to doctors as frequently and as early as possible, so they can diagnose whatever is going on, prescribe whatever drug or surgery is required, and then the patient will be good as new.
If it really worked like this, then of course I'd be very irresponsible for not going to a doctor.
But it doesn't really work this way, and the reality is that even the best doctors and healers are very limited in what they can actually accomplish, health-wise. For example:
A little while back, my husband broke his little finger. He went straight to the ER department at the local hospital, where the doctor put half his arm in a cast, and told him to keep it on for 6 weeks, until his finger healed. There was just one problem: you can't go to the mikva with a cast, and after 3 days, my husband was feeling like he REALLY needed to go to the mikva.
He's a resourceful bloke, so he worked out that he could actually wiggle his arm in and out of the cast, to go for his dunk. Lo and behold the first time he took it off, he discovered that the doctors had set his finger in the cast bent. If he'd kept it on for 6 weeks, as told, his finger would be permanently deformed.
After that, he took another tack, and decided to talk to G-d about why He'd broken his finger (because everything, and especially illness, is just a message from G-d). He had some insight, he acted on it, and combined with a bit of Su Jok, his finger miraculously straightened out and healed within two weeks, no cast required. Now, it's completely healed, Baruch Hashem.
There's a very important point to make here, that modern medicine encourages us to outsource our health and wellbeing to the 'experts', but health is an incredibly personal thing.
If I eat junk food and don't exercise; or get majorly angry, anxious and stressed on a regular basis, it's a good bet that I'm going to have ongoing health issues that pills and experts can palliate, but can't really fix. Why not? Because until I take responsibility for myself, and my lifestyle choices, and my emotional reactions, G-d is continue to send me wake-up calls via my health that no doctor can help me avoid.
Chinese medicine and energy medicine is much more in tune with the authentic Jewish view of how to approach health issues, because they both look at a person holistically. By contrast, modern medicine tries to tell you that your stomach ulcer is simply a result of a chemical process gone wrong inside your body, and nothing to do with your chronic anxiety or stress - but it's simply not true!
Cutting-edge science is proving more and more that our emotions trigger the production of various hormones and chemicals inside our body. What we think, what we believe, literally changes the chemistry of our body, leading to good health or the opposite.
It's a very comforting thought to think that doctors have all the answers, and that we can cut G-d and making teshuva out of the picture in our quest for good health, but it's simply not true.
Unfortunately, it's such a pervasive idea that most of us (including me…) can usually only spot the cracks in the premise that doctors can cure all our problems once we've actually fallen through them.
Doctors couldn't give me more children; doctors couldn't cure my daughter's asthma, or eczema; doctors couldn't straighten my husband's broken finger, or explain why I was having excrutiating neck pain three years' ago.
Would I still use a western doctor, if I had absolutely no choice? Probably, yes. But as I explained to my correspondents, western doctors should be the very last port of call, after we've tried to make teshuva, after we've tried to get the message G-d's hidden in the illness.
We need to take responsibility for our own health, and stop looking to 'experts', alternative, Western or otherwise, to fix things that are really a matter between us and G-d.