My doctor’s hobby
Yesterday I met with my – what do they call them? – “primary care physician” who is supposed to be the gatekeeper for all my health care decisions. In his examining room, I waited, studying the decorations.
He is apparently very fond of golf. There were two expensively framed pictures of impossible golf holes at exotic locations in Arizona and Hawaii; one was emblazoned with an inspirational saying from Arnold Palmer. The room was festooned with other golf memorabilia.
Golf is a perfectly fine sport, I suppose; the Western equivalent to Zen archery. In golf, success depends on a meditative state of mind; your brain needs to be producing alpha waves or something. In the words of that sage, it “challenges the spirit while confounding the intellect”.
But I think I’d like a doctor whose hobby is cryptography or computer security-system hacking, or some other neurotically analytical compulsion. I want a doctor who is kept awake by unsolved problems; who goes over the details in his mind and searches databases for connections others might miss. This because I want the doctor to do what I cannot do; distinguish phantom pain from signals of actual disease.
There are several varieties of chronic pain, such as damage to a specific nerve or group of nerves following an accident. Mine seems to be random: the ‘pain circuits’ are a bit scrambled. One doctor said, ‘migratory fascitis’ and another said, ‘fibromyalgia’. When there is an actual problem, I often feel it in some unrelated spot, and more commonly, I feel pain where nothing’s wrong at all. So I usually ignore it, making the decision of when to go to the doctor a bit tricky.
It annoys me when the doctor says; ‘Wait and see’, because, to paraphrase Thomas Sowell, by the time I go to a doctor I have already waited and already seen. I want him to tell me definitively if I have a problem or if I should indefinitely go on ignoring whatever brought me in that day.
Some other time I will write about pain and the role it plays in my life, but for now I’m just bitching about doctors.