Thursday, April 03, 2008

No fool like a (really cute) old fool (with rockin' gazongas)

The main problem in living this far out of the way is that your choices are real limited when it comes to health care. Now, living in America means thats going to be a problem anyway, but I also live in a tiny American town that had to advertise internationally to persuade two doctors to come practice here.
Naturally, we didn't end up with anyone who had to turn down offers to teach neurosurgery.

Whenever I've had to choose a new doctor I try and go for the youngest woman on staff. If it comes down to one of those 'feet in the stirrups' type procedures I'd rather have someone who knows their way around the territory doing the exam, for one thing. For another, the younger person knows the newest procedures. Right?

Well, this time I didn't get much of a choice.

I have a couple of chronic conditions that make it necessary to visit the doctors fairly often. A 30-some-odd mile round trip to Bellingham is out of the question in midwinter. A 17 mile round trip to Lynden is just ridiculous. Why? Seems all the practitioners in Lynden are stonewall Christians who belong to these profit driven, drug company-sponsored 'treatment management' programs. On the one hand you get to listen to Dr. Apostles' witness while he does your PAP smear, and on the other you end up getting convinced you need all the expensive drugs and treatments that 'Big Drug Corporation, Ltd.' is pushing. That is a WHOLE 'NOTHER POST. Suffice it to say, that WON'T do.

When we got news of the new practitioners' opening shop here in town there was much rejoicing. Rejoicing tempered with the realization that we were going to be dealing with some 'C' students, mind; this is American medicine after all. But at least it's a foot in the door and close, right?

Doctor #1 is an elderly gynaecologist who decided, once he'd moved here, that he wanted to be a General Practitioner. Just because. Try something new; what the hey. Never trained for it. Not qualified. The guy spent the last 30 years talking to tuna; suddenly he's magically able to diagnose throat cancer and cataracts and Alzheimers? Sure! Why the fuck not?
This is the same guy who basically tried to kill my Yummy Biker by prescribing him a combination of drugs that even I know is LETHAL.

Prior to that I had to go in and have a talk with ol' Doc Tuna about how reading your patients' goddamn charts beforehand is a good idea? Since-and I could be wrong here; after all I didn't go to medical school like he did (back in the Pleistocene) -a patient with a previously diagnosed sleeping disorder should probably NOT be given medication proven to increase the likelihood of OPERATING MACHINERY, EATING AND DRIVING IN ONES' SLEEP.

The other doctor is a youngish guy....hardcore Christian but not obnoxious about it. He operates independently of the 'treatment management' Mafia, and so I figured why not give him a chance?

The upside of this is that he's a good guy.

The downside of this is that he's a typically overworked American GP who has compounded that whole issue by having six kids AND being a member of Doctors Without Borders.

Kids are good, and I believe in this program, and I admire the guy for being part of it.

What I don't like is the fact that he has a standardized packages of speeches he delivers on any given medical issue, nearly word for word each time. The man isn't seeing individuals; he's seeing conditions.
The guy is right on the verge of burnout.

This past winter was possibly the worst winter for me, health-wise, on record. I spend more time sick than I did well, and I had a nearly constant respiratory infection going. I went through over-the-counter rescue inhalers by the metric shitload. I needed to go out and be active. It's vital that I do so, now that I have diabetes. And I wanted to get out and be active too...but every goddamn time I did the infection came back, or I caught another cold, or got bronchitis, or ran onto a fungal bloom someplace or a cat or some feathers and had a huge allergic reaction. My system was under constant, constant attack and the asthma was just RAGING.

But oh yes, I did go to see my doctor. Three times.

Each time I received the same standardized speech about 'viral infections are untreatable with antibiotics and I should wait and let it run its course and then come in only if it persists'. ('Persist' being the infinitely definable operative term here.)

Now, were I a younger person I would have bought this unquestioningly. As an older person with a medical phobia, I let myself trust that his experience would be recent and that maybe he knew something that I hadn't heard. All the while, what I should have been doing is trusting MYSELF.

I've had this shit since 1966. I KNOW the goddamn difference between a viral infection and the usual crap I get. I have allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, polyps and asthma. I know that the standard cortisone-based treatments for the asthma actually makes the other stuff worse in the long run because steroids suppress the immune system. I KNOW that the only recourse, in my case, given my etiology, is to take the goddamn antibiotics and heal up and then work like hell and get strong. Now that I'm diabetic this only goes double, since inhaled corticosteroids make diabetes WORSE.

So next week I get to go in and tell Mr. 'I Donate My Skills Worldwide for the Greater Glory of Christ' that he's full of shit.

Basically I fucked away an entire winter believing someone else and letting my fear of doctors give me an excuse to listen to the WRONG ADVICE. That's time I will never get back. I screwed the pooch bigtime and I've got nobody to blame, ultimately, but ME.

And then I get to go find a new doctor!!!



  1. Don't go looking for a doctor in the town I grew up in.

    Three choices:
    1. Alcoholic
    2. Child molester
    3. Incompetent

  2. FN sounds like you don't need a doctor you can do the diagnostics yourself, what you need is a pharmacist! I assume you have those, do you? Find one at once and meanwhile you can open an online medical blog ans advise the rest of us because you know I have this strange pain down the left hand side and when I cough my ear itches and I can't see too well out of my right eye when I blink and I can't hear the blonde guy who reads the news and I'm hot when it's cold and and . . .

    what do you recommend?

  3. and buy those sparkly shoes - that'll make you better for a bit!

  4. YAY go sort that Doctor out . A lot of the time they seem to forget they are treating a person not just a set of symptoms.

    MJ number 2 sounds a safe bet , you being no spring chicken n all :-)

  5. I have had sinus problems for the last five years - with lots of shrugging from Doctors.

    I miss my old Doctor - Dr. Blick. His first question always was "What do you think the problems is" - how refreshing.

    Tell me to shut my big yap but can't you control yer diabetes thru diet? Is it type 2?

  6. You would love my doctor. He puts up with no shit plus he knows his shit. BUT....he is in Boise and he is an auto immune doctor....highly specialist type o' deal. Over scheduled and way over worked. If he told me to take poison I would...oh wait I did. At any rate, I hope you find your doctor. And I have found that most GPs are full of it and I usually have to diagnose myself. So stay with the GP ya got and take everything he say with a grain of salt, that is unless you are watching your sodium intake. HA

  7. Anonymous4:29 AM

    I'm sure not all doctors are rubbish but I have to say that most of the GP's I've ever visited have been. This culminated in my GP telling me that an ultrasound had come back clear when it hadn't (I'd read the results en-route from the scan department to the specialist who was supposed to send them to my GP). It took tears and nearly an hour in the surgery to get him to call the specialist to get the right results. Result of this is that I don't go to the doctors any more.

    Having said that, I suggest you read your doctor the riot act and then stick with him to sort out your treatment properly.

  8. Here's a fun conversation:

    Me: My hand hurts. I can't move 3 of my fingers.
    GP: I can't see a cause.
    Me: I'm in a lot of pain.
    GP: No, you're not.
    Me: !!!!!*%!!#*!@!!!

    The only good doctor I've ever had is a talented and sypmathetic rheumatologist is Essex, Connecticut named Alan Spagnola. Hi, Alan! The rest of them can all take a flying leap.

  9. mj: milwaukie oregon? wow! me too!

    ziggi: ramp back on the lsd and drink lots of clear fluids (gin, vodka, saki) and buy your new dr. a pair of sparkly shoes! STAT!

    beast: i will. gotta go get blood drawn now though.....HAAAAAALP!

  10. Anonymous9:06 AM

    FN: Even though I'm broke, I go outside of network to my doctor (who just waits for me to have money to pay) because she's damn good. And that's so increasingly rare nowadays.

    Good luck, and rip him up. (There should be some entertainment value there, right?)

  11. yeah, i feel you. i could be standing right there with you... fuckers... lemme know when you find one, i'll drive up.

  12. if you go back to madrona, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT go to Dr. Beilor. He is a very nice young man, but very VERY young and completely inexperienced and nervous around women to boot. AVOID IT.
    I do see in the weekly three ladies (ARNPs) opened their own place, shall I email you the # ?

  13. Better luck next Doctor.

  14. Sorry to hear you've been so ill this winter.

    Good luck on that whole new doc thang!

  15. Anonymous8:33 PM

    i know from experience a good, trusting, i know what i'm actually doing, doctor is a hard thing to come by. i had a doc give me medication that i ended up being allergic too. when i told him my symptoms,he said he kinda figured i would be and gave me an alternative. i was confused. and pissed.

    since my mom has run the gambit of medical problems (gee, what hasn't she had?), her current doc is the only one who hasn't tried to kill her. yet. first one misdiagnosed her, 2nd one gave her killer meds, 3rd one gave her gangreen.

    Frobi: yeah, diet and exercise. i've been doing pretty good on the diet front, meatballs notwithstanding, but without the exercise it becomes more difficult.X

    gale: thats exactly what i'm tempted to do. i just hate fighting best two falls out of three with the man for some fricken' antibiotics.

    hendrix: all i want the man to do is be familiar with my case and realize that i am the notable exception to the 'dont hand out antibiotics all over the place'rule. he acts like im trying to get class a narcotics or something.

    cb: always bearing in mind that you're in the promised land of socialized medicine too. i guess incompetence has no nationality. *sings kum bay yah*

    foil:I will!!:D

    voices: yeah i know you do. you keep on fighting too.X

    ssa: thanks for the headsup, and yes!

    breaker: welcome welcome! and thankyou!

    pam: WHERE YOU BEEN CHICKIE??? its kind of a ss, dd situation. i hope all you'uns are doing better!

    pink: holy CRAP. your poor mom! i used to blame that stuff on our being the last generation that was taught that a doctors word was akin to the Lords; but it seems not to matter, really. the assholes are everywhere; theres no avoiding them.

  17. I was making a model of FN's Rockin Gazongas out of mashed potato at dinner (Just like Close Encounters- t was so cool) , and got told off by Ma Beasty for playin with me food :-(

  18. The American Government's plan to eradicate the great unwashed is insanely simple. Since rich Americans outlive everyone by a decade the Government is going to keep providing C students to care for everyone living outside of Manhattan and Malibu.

    Despite the heroic efforts of the lower classes to outpace this 'trap' by overbreeding like rats, they are still fighting a losing battle.

    Thanks to horrendous levels of stress and unimaginably unhealthy diets, they are actually starting to die even sooner than expected.
    It's working like a charm.

    Don't get sick and buy Lottery tickets..lots of them.

  19. Anonymous8:56 AM

    Oh, wow, I forsee 30 mile rides to the doctor. Sorry. Down here we've got mass hepatitis spread because the biggest group in Vegas decided to save money by re-using one time needles. So it's everywhere.

  20. I'll be seeing a doctor this afternoon for my bad back. He'll ask me if I know what to do about it and I'll say yes, he'll tell me the latin name for it so I can tell my employer and get paid. I'd hate to be old in the USA.