Annie to the American Medical Industry: Up Yours (part II)

Marie tells me we will start with a colonoscopy.

            No, I don’t think so.

            I explain to her that I can’t take the drugs for the clean-out procedure, so she says we can start with x-rays.  Tell me about that, I say.  She tells me you just drink this barium thing—.

            I sit there and look at her until she gets it:  barium is a product of the pharmaceutical industry.

            Then how am I going to treat you, she asks?

            I say, remember your grandmother?  What would you have done for her before all these drugs and invasive tests had been invented?

            Well, says Marie, you can have these tests done without sedation.

            Yeah, right.

            She wants to stick one probe up my butt and another one down my throat until they meet in the middle, and she’s offering me the option of doing it without sedation.  If you did that at Guantanamo Bay to a presumed terrorist, it would be called torture.  Do it in an American hospital and it’s called good medical treatment.  What Americans put up with in the face of their fear of dying amazes me.

            Then Marie really lets loose.  She goes on a harangue about good medical treatment and how she’s required to tell me that this can be done, or that, and if I come back in a year with cancer—and at this point she stops just short of saying, “I’ll be legally liable.”  She doesn’t care about helping me get healthy.  She cares about sticking a scope up my butt to cover her butt.

            We continue to go around in circles, me trying to explain that physicians prescribing pharmaceuticals busted out my immune system and now my immune system reacts to everything.  I can’t wear mascara, earrings or nail polish.  I have allergic reactions to all animals—cats, dogs, birds, whatever.  I can’t eat shellfish or wheat, and so on.

            Marie continues to repeat her rant about what constitutes proper medical treatment, and what she has to do.  She talks repeatedly about blockages and cancer.  At one point, she says there are treatment alternatives to drugs.  I think of my excellent experiences with acupuncture and hypnotherapy, and I perk up.  “What?” I ask.

            Marie says, “Surgery.”

            I sit there and look at her.  She doesn’t get it.  Finally I say, “And how are you going to do surgery without drugs?”

            The medical establishment is so blind that they literally have no awareness that everything they do is contingent upon the ingestion of foreign substances.

            Marie and I finally give it up.  She orders blood work “To find out if you’ve been noncompliant with the celiac diet”—oh, by all means, let’s look to blame the patient first.  When she’s filling out the form for the lab, I ask her to note “copy to patient.”  She agrees but doesn’t do it.  When I mention it again, she says, “We’ll be glad to give you a copy when you see the doctor.”

            No, Marie, I want a copy mailed to me direct from the lab [see also essay on reasons for the patient getting copies of blood work].  So she writes it on the form, and tells me to come back in a month to see the doctor, with whom she will speak.  I know what this means.  It means she’s going to prejudice the doctor before I ever see him.

            So I go down to the lab and point out to the receptionist that I am to get copies of the lab reports.  No, we don’t do that, she says.

            In a matter of minutes, the lab manager has come out with photocopies of regulations—selections highlighted—explaining why they won’t give the patient information about herself even when the doctor has ordered it.  Then she tells me the real reason:  a patient wrote “copy to patient” on her own lab order.  When the doctor found out she’d seen the results before he did, the doctor called the lab and reamed somebody out, apparently without benefit of sedation.

            In the first place, if the doctor had maintained a working relationship with the patient, the patient wouldn’t have needed to add a note to the lab order.  In the second place, labs are filled with phlebotomists, not handwriting experts.  It was not the lab’s fault.  The doctor should not have held the lab responsible, nor should the lab have accepted responsibility.   They should have told the doctor to shove it, but they are part of a system in which the guy in the longest white coat gets to tell everybody else what to do.

            In the third place, you don’t subvert the medico-legal process of access to information for all people on account of one woman who apparently crossed the line.  But that’s exactly what this lab did—created policy based on one case, which any lawyer will tell you always makes bad law.

            I retrieve my lab order and go down the hill to the next hospital where they cheerfully tell me that they will be happy to send me copies of my lab reports.  They tell me this because I have already gone one round with the president of their hospital and gotten them to do it right.

            So now it is zero-dark-thirty the next morning and I am laying in the darkness thinking about this.

            Why is it that if you have only one leg and are delivering a baby, they figure out how to work with the fact that you can’t put your “legs” up in the stirrups, but when they find out that my immune system is compromised, they won’t figure out how to work around it?  Won’t even try.  Why is it that when I come in with an unexpected complicating factor, instead of getting to work to deal with it, they blame me?  And, as my morning poop is tinged with blood, do I have a colon blockage or cancer?

            We all must face death sooner or later, and American medicine is just a terribly painful and expensive way of postponing that.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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