19 April 2011

Where are all the great healers?

I got my blood test back today. As I suspected, my cholesterol is high again. It's definitely time to get serious about shedding those extra pounds. As I listened to the doctor discuss options, I realized, as I so often do, that he's read less on the options than I have. This is pretty typical. I've had dozens of doctors in my life, but I don't get the sense that any of the people were true experts. At best, they would state some correct (but very obvious) facts--the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry on the subject basically. Often, they would misdiagnose me or have me do expensive tests which didn't seem to be looked at by anybody.

Medicine is a science and good science works a bit like good magic. When the magician does something, it's impressive because the onlookers don't understand it--and can't understand it because of their faulty way of looking at things. Good science is the same--the scientist has a methodology that enables him to peer into a reality that normally remains invisible. A good doctor should be able to tell me things about myself that I, as a complete lay-person, can't know. But the truth is--if you give me a little time with Wikipedia and a few basic medical articles (perhaps a few metastudies from Yahoo Scholar) and give me the ability to order tests, I'm pretty sure that I could do everything my doctors do with same level of error. For some reason, American medicine (or at least, the medicine available to median wage-earners like myself) is producing few scientists and few healers. On the bright side, America's exorbitantly priced and low-quality medical system is giving me plenty of motivation to take care of my own health.


Vancouver Voyeur said...

Oh the horror stories I could tell you about doctors misdiagnosing me. Eight doctors in five states over thirteen years, all guys, every last one of them misdiagnosed me and had wildly different opinions on what was wrong with me. I don't know if gender had anything to do with it, but the first woman doctor I went to found what was wrong, did surgery and my life has been awesome ever since, medically speaking. :-) My latest diagnosis, a couple of years back was that I had fibromyalgia. So I ask the doctor "what is that," Doctor: "well we don't actually know." Me: "Then how do you know I have it?" Doctor: "Because you have all the symptoms." Me: "Yes, but aren't my symptoms also the same symptoms one would have with hypothyroidism or a severe wheat allergy?" Doctor: *severe look because he knew I was right.*

Karlo said...

Maybe I need to find a woman doctor. Come to think of it, the one great doctor my friend says he had during his life was also a woman. My last doctor (who was responsible for a pretty major misdiagnosis) told me at one point that 90% of what they learn in medical school is of absolutely no use in the everyda practice of medicine. I get the feeling that much of what doctors do is intentionally made opaque and mysterious in order to justify prices that are over ten times what they should be. I'm pretty sure that you could train people to do what doctors do in about four years and suffer no loss in quality whatsoever. For starters, why not just send doctors to medical school immediately. If they want to take a course in Shakespeare, they can do so at their local community college after they start work as doctors.