Saturday, July 18, 2009


The expression on the face of the man across the hall echoed my own feelings--- sorrow, despair, and tiring, mind-numbing waiting. For years, people listened to me expound on the inadequacies of the medical profession and all those years I avoided visiting doctors as much as possible. Now I am caught up in the waiting and the insufficient answers.

Each visit to the hospital further enhances my beliefs in the lack of proper medical care. Healthcare is becoming more about business than in helping people. Doctors are regulated by insurance companies and hospitals dictate how much time a doctor can spend with a patient and what they are allowed to talk about. Doctors push more tests and drugs and try to do all the diagnoses from lab reports without having to physically touch the patient. (That would require a specialist.)

Questions are asked but few are fully answered. Doctors are afraid of offering opinions in fear of lawsuits and they spend more time running further tests, and while that can be beneficial, I believe that people are used as guinea pigs. Let’s see what this drug will do. If that doesn’t work, try this one. In the meantime, people are paying and paying and oftentimes getting sicker.

The business of medicine is built on fear. If you don’t take care of yourself, then this will happen. Even preventative medicine pushes fear. You are told not to stress but the lab tests will always show that some drug or other is needed; anything to keep the patient coming back. Then when someone is really sick, they cannot get an immediate appointment.

Even the drugs that are to help fill you with fear if you read the warnings. Not only are the side effects scary, but to take one drug causes a health issue in another area. It’s a wonder that anyone would take any drug--- but when people are not feeling well and are feeling desperate, then they will settle for what the professionals tell them.

Our recent ventures to the medical establishments are causing much anxiety. The doctor looks at the chart and lab report focusing on one or two issues. She asks if there are questions, but any not pertaining to those particular issues are brushed aside. “Time’s up,” or “You’ll have to bring those questions up at the next visit,” are often the answers given, but the next visit is a repeat of the previous except that a different drug might be suggested.

Recent trips to the emergency department have also proved futile. Four hours is the average time spent between arrival and discharge. There’s the waiting room with an annoying, loud, blaring television (which very few people ever watch,) and walls are so thin that you can almost hear every word from the next room or you have to listen to staff members chatting and laughing outside the door, or doors are left open so others going by can see the patients lying in misery. Finally, the immediate problem is soothed, not solved, with an admonition to see the primary care physician as soon as possible and the cycle begins over again.

I look at all the structural changes in hospitals in recent years. Hospital lobbies are now looking like fancy hotels. They are beautiful and while ascetics can play a big part in a person’s recovery, I cannot help but wonder if this adds to the rising costs in health care.

For years, people have joked about hospital charges--- like $20 for one aspirin or $600 in supplies, (the latter being for a two-day stay.) One recent fee is the “Self-administered Drug” which means a patient is charged for taking THEIR OWN drugs brought from home. (This is almost funny as you are told to bring any medications you currently take… and then they charge you for taking them.)

I think about other costs. People are blinded by co-pay, but what do they pay in to get that co-pay? Of course, it depends on the insurance companies. They have us over a barrel. When I was a working woman, I didn’t pay too much attention because there were health benefits with the job, but for those who pay their own health insurance, the costs are not cheap.

Maybe it’s just me. I personally have not been to a doctor in over ten years but the more I see, the less I am willing to submit myself to that… lack of respect. The personal-ness is gone. You’re a number--- herd ‘em in, herd ‘em out. Time’s up. Next. It’s like the doctors don’t see YOU, they are looking at numbers, at a chart, at a symptom (and only one symptom at a time is allowed.)

Unfortunately, it’s not all about me and my mother is in need of health care. As she is less able to care for herself, the burden falls on my shoulders. Frustration levels rise as trying to make an appointment is so complicated. Many channels are gone through before the correct office is reached and finding a “real” person with whom to speak is not easy. Oftentimes a message is left and you may have to wait a day for a response… or call back.

“You have cancer and high cholesterol,” my mother was told and then given a sheet of paper with a list of proper foods. She was also given a prescription for vitamin D and told to take vitamin C for her osteoporosis. When Ma tried to ask a question regarding an itching problem, she was told her time was up. She came home confused and scared with questions not answered.

I am disappointed with the whole system and how doctors (at least my mom’s) are handling her. I’ve made phone calls trying to find another doctor, but no one in the area are taking new patients.

The little boy started crying to go home and the man across the hall picked the child up. Our eyes met for a brief second and a moment of understanding passed. The hours crept by…

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