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My doctor’s hobby

February 22, 2006

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.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 23, 2006 at 07:12 | #1

    ABout 95% of what ails us our body will cure with no help from a doctor-all they can do is give us some relief from the pain. Of the 5% of ailments left maybe half can be treated with medication-of which generally has some side affects that will cause other ailments which means more damn medication whch causes other ailments and it never ceases. Some things can be taken care of with some type of surgery-there are few of us who have not had some type of surgery by the time we hit our so called golden years. But for the most part-just wait and see is about as good an answer as anything although I always get pissed when I hear it.

  2. basil
    February 24, 2006 at 15:37 | #2

    I had back pain that would not let me sleep, or function at work; I was in constant pain.
    I always though chropractors were quacks or charlatans, but my sore back is great after seeing one and getting my back cracked. Sometimes a slew of other problems can be releived by correct disk alignnment, aggrevated nerves Etc.. why treat disrupted nerves with chemicals, when a physical
    problen needs to be changed ?. Well he made a believer out of me.

  3. WeeDram
    February 25, 2006 at 11:20 | #3

    As much as I don’t care for golf (“a good walk spoiled”, plus golf courses are an environmental waste, IMO), I can see it being a really good release for a physician.  It’s a different type of problem solving, and allows the golfer to focus on his/her mind-body connection.  My cardiologist sails on Lake Ontario, which I think is cool, because sailing is something I’ve enjoyed very much.

    Personally, I don’t want my doctor “kept awake” when they should be getting rest.  OK, OK, I know what you mean, but you get my point, eh?  I want a doctor who works hard, but also has a balanced life.  I’m fortunate in that both my PCP and my cardiologist are, from what I can tell, really well balanced guys.

    If wait and see isn’t appropriate because you’ve already “waited and seen”, just tell the doc.  I’m sure you do that!

  4. March 1, 2006 at 20:37 | #4

    why treat disrupted nerves with chemicals, when a physical problen needs to be changed? Well he made a believer out of me.

    He certainly did.  Alas, 2 years of treatment by a Chiropractor failed to do the same for me.  But my problem is not back pain; it is something else altogether and no ducks have yet quacked a really helpful diagnosis.  (See GUYK’s comment)

    WD, I really don’t care how ‘balanced’ my doctor’s life is – I want him to solve my problem.  It is doubtful sailing and playing golf would make him a significantly better doctor, but an obsession with problem-solving just might.

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