Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What's Up, Doc?

I once saw a cartoon of a cigar-chewing "robust" man who said to a medical receptionist, "I'm looking for a fat doctor who smokes." Most all of us are looking for the perfect doctor. For some of us that would be a person who would validate all of our wacky ideas. I'm in favor of doctors who (1) are open-minded to new developments, (2) stay up to date, and (3) treat me as a respected and important advisor in my treatment plan.

I'm happy to report that I get all of the above at the VA hospitals that I've attended in Arkansas. In most doctor's offices you feel as though you are on a conveyor belt. After arriving early for your appointment, dealing with an inattentive receptionist, sitting for hours on a hard seat, and finally being called to the examination room, you step on the belt. It whisks you to the nurse, who takes your vitals, puts you back on the conveyor, where you fly by the doctor, answering his questions in 1.3 minutes, receive a dull needle in the old bohunkus, and are finally dumped at the feet of the cashier. Where you can stay as long as you like, filling out the mortgage application forms.

Sometimes the doctor doesn't' even look you in the eye. "What's your problem? Unh, huh. Unh, huh. Here's a prescription. Now, GET ON THAT BELT! Next patient!!!" Sound familiar? They try to cram forty-eleven patients into a time slot for 20, overbook by 59 patients, and get cranky if you dare to start asking THEM any questions.

I want a doctor who treats me as though he has all day to solve my problem. I want a doctor who is personable. I want a doctor who readily admits that he is not God. I want a doctor who is humble enough to accept any information or insight that I might have about my possible treatment options. And I think that I deserve that kind of doctor.

Far too often, the professionals in the medical community find themselves at war with others who have a different approach to medicine. Everybody is defending the "fort" of their particular treatment philosophy. It seems ironic that the Greek etymology of philosophy is the love of wisdom. It that's so, then why do so many doctors act so foolish? They seem to follow the idea that "the best offense is a good defense." So they attack each other relentlessly while ignoring their responsibility toward their patients.

I take the pragmatic approach to my health. To me, whatever works is good medicine. If it doesn't work, then it's not good medicine. I assure you, if a doctor convinced me that standing on my head would cure me of Bipolar Disorder, I would quickly become flat-headed. I want a doctor who is wise enough, humble enough, and enterprising enough to utilize anything and everything that might improve my chances of healing.

If I could afford it, I would employ an M.D., a therapist, a nutritionist, a psychiatrist, an acupuncturist, a chiropractor, and a veterinarian (if necessary) to put me on the road to good health. And I don't want a fat doctor who smokes. Believe me, I would run all of my bases and leave no bone unburied if it would make me well.

I pray that you will hold all of your treating medical professionals to a high standard. If they won't work with you, then don't you work with them. You deserve the very best!!

Update on suicide: I received a very disturbing email this last week from a woman who lived in fear of her husband committing suicide. Last Thursday a good friend's father took his life. In the last 6 months, I have personally known three Christians who lost a close relative to suicide. I can't think of anything worse than that. Please continue to educate yourself about this issue, but if you are a survivor, do not let Satan convince you that you have anything to feel guilty about. As heart-breaking as suicide is, it is still the personal decision of the person who takes his/her life.

["I'm so low, I could do a ten minute free-fall off the edge of a dime."]

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