So I went to the doctor the other day because an agonizing backache was quite overstaying its welcome – and by that I mean I was starting to wonder if maybe putting my head in the oven might help. I was stuck in a bent-over position, as if perpetually awaiting a proctology exam, and had completely run out of snappy answers to stupid questions.
You all bent over because your back hurts?
Nope. Looking for cigarette butts and loose change.
Trouble with your back?
No, I’m pretty sure it’s the racking pain that’s giving me trouble.
Throw your back out?
Nah, threw my lazy-ass brother-in-law out. I think I hurt my back doing it, though.
So, are you experiencing pain in the lumbar region?
No, doc, I always talk to people’s crotches. I find it endears me to them.
I had never been to this particular doctor before and so I had an immiscible combination of hope and trepidation. Would he be able to help? Would he think I was just there for pain pills? Would he have to order costly x-rays? Would rubber gloves be required?
No. Probably. No. Yes, unfortunately.
Now, I can’t say if his possible suspicions regarding my motivations had anything to do with the fact that he didn’t do a goddamned thing for me, but I can state unequivocally that he didn’t do a goddamned thing for me. He probably made several hundred dollars for the forty minutes he actually spent examining me, but I honestly couldn’t tell you what that money paid for! I mean, he poked and prodded me in just the right places to make my body feel even worse and then confirmed that I did, in fact, have a bad back. He informed me that some people react well to muscle relaxants, others to pain medication, others to a proper stretching regimen and then prescribed me the latter of the three. He used a few words I didn’t know and he smacked my knees with a tiny rubber mallet just to watch me kick involuntarily. (Doctors really dig that reflex shit for some reason. I imagine them sitting at home whacking themselves under the kneecap and then laughing with childlike glee as their foot spasms upward. Repeat, ad nauseum.)
Anyway, long story short, I left the physician’s office two hours older, twenty dollars poorer, and with a back that was far worse than it was when I came in. I’d honestly have been better off if I had just paid some guy on the street ten bucks to kick me in the tailbone! At least then I’d have the other ten bucks and time to take in a nice spa, maybe pick up some effing Advil.
Interestingly, a lot of people use low quality of care as their excuse for not being on board with socialized medicine, but after my recent experience at a supposedly top-notch medical clinic, I have to wonder how much worse a universal healthcare system could possibly be.
Six years of medical school, plus expenses: $250,000
Annual malpractice insurance premium: $42,000
Monthly office rent: $1,700
Tiny rubber hammer: $24
Sending your patients away in worse shape than when they came in: Priceless
There are some things money can’t buy. Medical skill and good judgment are evidently two of those things.