Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Do you like your doctors?

I don’t think much of doctors anymore. I’m pretty sure that each one will suggest doing things to me that I don’t want to do.

I had a doctor in Baltimore that I liked quite a bit. He dressed like Marcus Welby, a popular TV physician of the time, with wool jackets with patches on his sleeves. He was tall and good-looking like Robert Young, the actor who morphed from the reassuring dad on Father Knows Best into the reassuring dispenser of health. Dr. Feelgood wasn’t much good at diagnosing my back pain, but he was generous with the Librium scrips.

Today's television doctor du jour is House -- brilliant, unorthodox, arrogant, cranky, unshaven, and popping pills with the abandon of a hippie on the Haight. What does that say about the social condition of doctors today?

I took to spending increasing amount of time in bed due to excruciating back pain. One day my husband tossed a slip of paper across the quilt. “You’re not the same woman I married. This is my mother’s orthopedist. Call him.” My X did not think as much of Marcus Welby as I did. The orthopedist turned out to be a pretty good guy and hooked me up with an excellent surgeon.

I’m turning into my mother when it comes to doctors. I’ve laughed off my GP who is continually suggesting that he perform a breast exam, even though I have assured him that I consult a gynecologist once a year. She is female, she understands how the equipment works, and she is the first GYN I’ve had who can take a pap smear without turning it into small torture.

My GP suggested I have a nebulizer to disperse medicine like a vaporizer during a recent lengthy bout with bronchitis, but I wouldn’t hear of it. Maybe I wouldn’t have an ear infection now if I had taken his advice.

I spent a year seeing various doctor mengeles to find out that I might have lupus. Then again, I might not, according to a rheumatologist in New Orleans who said he’d run some more sophisticated blood tests. No one has been able to get those records since hurricane Katrina flooded that city.

I don’t want radioactive dyes shot through my body and to be plunged through a CatScan on a cold slab of steel. I don’t want ultrasounds, x-rays, blood tests, and I definitely don’t want to have my ear drained, one of the most painful procedures I have ever undergone. Ear docs tell you that it will pinch a little, but they are lying.

Occasionally my students want me to verify that they are really sick. One even asked me if I would tell her employer that she was ill on a certain day because she had not come to class. But I tell them I’m not that kind of doctor.

So, how's your experience with doctors?

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