Thursday, 14 February 2008

Do not accept the inevitable.

Aging is inevitable, or so I’ve heard. But the thing is, I don’t actually feel particularly worse than I felt 20 years ago. Ok, I wasn’t particularly fit when I was 19, but despite being over seventeen stone now, I can confidently say that I am considerably fitter than I was then. It sounds hard to believe, but it’s true. I drink less, I eat less, and I exercise more, and once I loose this weight, I’ll be able to kick my nineteen year old former self’s ass in every way; so to hell with aging.

The reason I say this is that I read a blog every day called The Fat Cyclist. Eldin is a funny, intelligent guy who can be relied upon to inject a bit of humour and insight into my day. He stole my idea for a blog site name, but since he has been using it for years before I had the idea I’ll forgive him.

Anyway, Fatty got some worrying news about a medical test. Go to his site and read about it for more details, and it got me thinking. Doctors are not gods. In fact, in general, I have never had a wholly satisfactory encounter with one. Most appointments I’ve had, I’ve left shaking my head in disbelief or resigned to a course of treatment that I fully expect to make little or no difference to the condition I have/or had. You see, doctors don’t listen. It is not their fault, they are only human, and they are busy with lots of other patients as well as me.

If something goes wrong with my body, I spend a lot of time thinking about it, more time researching the problem, and more time still coming up with ideas of what might be wrong. But I go to the doctor, sit down, spend 30 seconds explaining the symptoms (inaccurately at that) and then stare at him. I could tell him my well thought out theory, but I don’t want to tread on his toes or hurt his feelings (after all, he has access to large needles). He’s the expert and he's on the spot, so what does he do? Not much, generally. Certainly no more than write you a prescription for something you probably don’t need and will make you worse in some interesting way.

I have a condition called Dermatitis (according to Wikipedia, a blanket term, but thats as close as I've ever come to a diagnosis). It’s very mild and doesn’t give me much bother, but every time I get a new doctor, I have to ask for a prescription to deal with it. The doctor invariably asks a few questions, which I answer. It’s under control so they seem happy. Then I usually ask what precisely causes these infrequent but disturbing episodes of sudden skin disintegration/inflammation that I suffer from? The doctor looks at me blankly. He doesn’t know, and further more, because it’s under control, he doesn’t care. Damage limitation is the name of the game. After all, an appointment only lasts 10 minutes and there's probably someone far sicker next in the queue.

I’ve had this ailment for over 20 years, in which time I’ve perhaps had ten tubes of cream (Betnovate) to treat it, so right enough, not a big deal. But what if civilization breaks down? What if China decides to kick our asses, or global warming swallows all the Pharmacists? What then? Well, not only will I be sitting in a nuclear wasteland or on a makeshift raft, but I'll also have an itchy skin condition, that’s what then! Not good, not good at all.

I shouldn’t accept the blank looks and disinterest from the medical men. But on the other hand, the more time you spend in the company of doctors, the more likely they’re going to find something that they want to treat, and then you’re in real trouble. So best leave well alone, I suppose.

Anyway, the whole point of this rant is, DO NOT accept what doctors say at face value. Use your head, be skeptical, ask for explanations, get them to explain the mechanisms of what is wrong with you. They are only human, and they (and science in general) know far less about medicine and the human body than they would have you believe.

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