Dr. Dolittle-to-Nothing

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.

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About kirkstarr

I draw pictures for a living.
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24 Responses to Dr. Dolittle-to-Nothing

  1. arbed says:

    how's the weather down there?

  2. mariser says:

    it totally sucks he sent you away without any muscle relaxers or (good) pain killers. I am a fellow sufferer and spouse of teh SO, who's had much worse back trouble than meself. here's a few of our hard-earned pearls of wisdom:- you need something for the goddamned pain. – a doctor should be able to tell by looking/asking/touching if your pain is due to a muscle tear or to something else. muscle tear = muscle relaxers, something else = vicodin or something along those lines- x-rays are useless; MRI is where is at. most docs don't want to send you for an MRI until you been a couple of months in pain. no fun. at all.- Physical Therapy (by a certified Physical Therapist) works. not quickly (that's why you need pain killers) and PT requires a significant commitment of time. but it works. we are convinced long sessions of what he renamed "Physical Torture" kept teh SO from being sliced'n'diced.- no painkillers = sucky doctor. can you go to another? a 2nd opinion?sorry for your pain.

  3. Kirk says:

    "…how's the weather down there?"Aw, geez, have my posts become that prosaic? LOL.It's been rainy the last coupla days, but warm so that sleeping is even more difficult than it is with a sore back. Needless to say, I'm sleepy.

  4. Kirk says:

    "MRI is where is at. most docs don't want to send you for an MRI until you been a couple of months in pain. no fun. at all."Funny you should mention that, mariser. Last time I saw a doctor about this same back pain, he sent me for an MRI and I was in such pain that it was almost impossible for me to hold still long enough for the MRI to get a good picture. They had to redo it so many times that by the time I was finished, I was crazy from the pain. MRI revealed bone spurs (aka arthritis) and I was given Vicodin. I'd go back to that doctor, but he was an asshole.

  5. arbed says:

    heehee, awww, I was just trying to add another useless question to the list of ones you've already been asked – I figured with you bent over with back trouble, you might have an interesting take on the weather below as opposed to above
    why yes, I am a knob, why do you ask?
    oh, and rain sucks and probably isn't helping the pain at all

  6. mariser says:

    an asshole that prescribes Vicodin vs. a non-asshole that doesn't prescribe anything….I'm leaning towards "yes" on a return visit to the asshole. and gah on the spurs. I'm not experienced on those, is there anything like PT that can help?

  7. JamesTr says:

    Have you tried a good chirpractor? They're usually good to relieve my pain at least for a little while. Although I've only had pain like yours once or twice, and these days I'm getting used to it. I figure it's what I get for not working out and not doing anything for my back.

  8. RedScylla says:

    As someone who used to have crazy-making back pain, I recommend in this order: acupuncture, yoga, cranio-sacral manipulation (like chiropractic stuff, but just slightly less scary.)In the meantime, hope you get some relief.

  9. Kirk says:

    "I was just trying to add another useless question to the list of ones you've already been asked – I figured with you bent over with back trouble, you might have an interesting take on the weather below as opposed to above…"Ha! That went right over my head (easy to do when I'm hunched over, har har). Back pain slows the brain, evidently.

  10. Cat says:

    Sorry about your back…here's hoping you are all better soon!!

  11. Now you are forever documented with the preexisting bad back diagnosis. Yes forever.

  12. Kirk says:

    "I figure it's what I get for not working out and not doing anything for my back."For me, I think it's three years of varsity wrestling in high school, many years of martial arts, and being 40 — that last one being more significant that I would ever have guessed. *groan*

  13. arbed says:

    FWIW, I've heard many people say that they've tried several different types of therapy for pain that have not worked – then they tried acupuncture and they are in heaven

  14. GinBaby says:

    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.I believe that is the ninth circle of hell.

  15. Lurkertype says:

    Massage. Not "massage" wink-wink, but real honest to gosh massage.And consider going back to the Vicodin-providing asshole.Also, alcohol is a natural muscle relaxant, but I don't remember if you drink or not.

  16. snoringKatZ says:

    I'm so sorry. I've got some arthritis in my lower back with a few old injuries to add to the fun on occasion. The last big injury sent me to PT and it was AWESOME! They have these little electrodes that they stick on and super-hot packs so you get this hot-zappy thing going on. That was … aaaaahhhh!

  17. lauowolf says:

    To add my voice to the chorus.Physical therapy!And feel free to hunt around.Unless it blows the pain out, try another therapist until you hit one that works for you.

  18. Brown Suga' says:

    Sorry about the pain (and curses on that quack.) But I agree that an a House M.D-ish asshole who makes snarky comments while handing you your painkillers is way better a non-asshole who sends you away untreated and empty-handed.

  19. jaypo says:

    don't have time to read all the comments so… If you have a myotherapist/myofascial therapist in town, try them. No drugs, no back cracking, nothing but manipulation and pressure release. Insurance won't cover it usually because it's classes as massage, but it works wonders.

  20. Lurkertype says:

    ooo, yes, myotherapy is fabulous.

  21. devonrex says:

    I have back pain too, I've had it since I was 20, it has no identifiable cause. Doctors, chiropractors, and sports doctors were no help to me. Physiotherapists were most helpful for my condition. Here's some unsolicited "advice" for what it's worth: check your bed and pillow and work chair / station. Invest if need be. Exercise moderately. Strengthen the core (abs and lower back). There are lots of exercises that can be done at home.

  22. devonrex says:

    oh, and I know I totally missed the point, but back pain is such a part of my life I can't shut my piehole when it comes up…at least I didn't need to pay for all my advice. Your backpain might very well be addressed by a doctor, or chiropractor, or sports doctor. Paying for every visit decreases the chance that you will be able to get a good opinion. Who can afford second and third and fourth opinions? If you stumble on an idiot, you don't necessarily have the funds to keep paying and paying until you get someone qualified.

  23. Miz Blo says:

    My doctor did the reflex thing on my left knee, I went "ow" and I almost kick her. She didn't know I had know I had ACL replacment. I had to tell her about it because it wasn't in my file. (it had happen a long time ago)

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