21 February 2012

The Medical Merry-Go-Round

For some time now, I have been bothered by my right foot and ankle. Having made that statement, it would be reasonable to assume that a large percentage of my readers - or even both of them, would by mumbling, "Then why doesn't he go to the doctors?"

If only it were that simple. These days, a simple trip to a local GP, even for a simple ailment, is never quite that - simple.

Once you get past the "Doctor's Receptionist" (who always seems rather miffed that you prefer to see someone who spent years studying medicine, rather than be diagnosed by someone who answers phones) you are then pulled into a merry-go-round.

Imagine this not too far fetched scenario.

You are sitting in the waiting room surrounded by sick people and the doctor calls your name. That's the first stumbling block. The Doctor shakes your hand and asks, "How are you today?" You don't mean to do it, but your auto-response kicks in with, "I'm fine thank you".


Immediately you feel like a fraud or one of those people you hear about on talk-back radio or read about in The Daily Mail. However, I did once manage to get my own back, and with a gentle smile replied, "I was hoping you would tell me that".

You enter the hallowed surgery, sit down and you are asked, "And what seems to be the trouble?" Even before you have finished saying, "well, I seem..." the Doctor has started writing notes, punctuated with a lot of head nodding.

"I seem to have cut my finger"

Bad move. The Doctor will put down their pencil, lean back and with a condescending smile inform you, "I'll be the judge of that". You then show him/her your finger, (the cut one, not the one you really want to show). The finger is then prodded and peered at from different angles before the inevitable conclusion is announced. You are being sent for an X Ray.

I realize a lot of people, especially older people, like to boast about such things, "Oh that nice Dr Jenkins - he sent me for an X Ray you know" but I can do without the hassle. However, you somehow feel obliged, and so you trot along to the hospital. After waiting an hour past your appointment time, your finger is duly X Rayed. That however, is not the end. Now you have to go back to your doctor for the results.

A week later...

..."I have the results here. I'd like you to see a specialist".

Without further ado, the Doctor starts writing down the name and telephone number of a specialist who is not only "excellent" but who also happens to be a golfing buddy.

You go home and use your injured finger to tap out the specialist's number, so you can wait to be told that the specialist, (who you are paying an arm and a leg to work for you) can see you at a time that is fine for the specialist, but totally inconvenient for you. But there is no choice - unless you want to wait three months, then turn up to find out he/she has left, and someone else has taken over the practice.

The specialist asks about your family medical history, harvesting helpful information such as, "Did your great-great-great-great-grandmother ever have the plague?" An examination follows and you are then told, "I'd like you to have a biopsy - you can make arrangements with the receptionist on the way out".

Two weeks later, a small incision is made in your cut finger. Tissue is then analyzed and the results sent to the specialist, who you have an appointment to see ten days later. The Specialist then informs you, "I am sending a report to your doctor".

Finally the day arrives when you sit down in front of your doctor to find out if you really did have a cut finger, if it has healed, and whether you can stop taking those little tablets that a drug company rep gave to your doctor, which was of absolutely no benefit to you, - but was to them.

After failing to convince you that you should see a Counselor, (just in case cutting your finger while trying to open a packet of biscuits, was somehow an indicator of other, deep-rooted problems)the doctor writes a prescription. You are told that for the finger to heal properly, you must stop smoking, exercise at least twenty minutes a day, (which you can't do as you are too knackered from going back and for to all the appointments) and to eat plenty of fruit which is laden with both artificial and naturally produced chemicals. You stand up, shake hands, say your goodbyes and close the door behind you.


What's wrong asks the doctor. Almost in tears - and not through pain, you slowly turn around and inform the Doctor.

"I've jammed my finger in the door"

"Take a seat please....."

Wherever you may be - be safeCopyright Mike Hitchen Online, Lane Cove, NSW, Australia. All rights reserved