Jul 5, 2007

We are not broken TV sets and you are not TV repairmen

I was planning to write a mini-series dedicated to computers and IT in general, but I just had another (rich in anxiety) healthcare experience and I neeeeeed to talk about it.

As I see it, having colitis is pretty straightforward for doctors these days in US. You have the symptoms, they have the luxury of seeing what's going on with a colonoscopy, they figure what's up. They give you ASA first, if it doesn't work, they give you steroids and so on. Just like fixing a TV: the image is flickering, so you get a flashlight, open the back cover, peek inside, find a burned something, replace it, still doesn't work, you go up the stream until you find something broken and the TV now works.

Just that we are not TVs, we are humans. And even though you have tons of pressures with administration, too many patients, too little time, and who knows what else I'm pretty sure you didn't go to medical school to find out how to peek in assholes and write prescriptions. I bet you went there to help people in need, and to have human contact. So where in the process did you lose this? Why did you become insensitive machines?

I realized today why would someone like to do Gastro/Enterology. I think you have the opportunity to offer more relief and be in more intimate human contact than almost any other specialty. Even more than gynecology, pretty much at the same level as obstetrics.

I don't know details about all the gastric/intestinal diseases, but in our culture, we put so much emotional content in our digestive system... think of all the bathroom jokes, of the big laughs on burps and farts. So, here you have someone that is scared enough to come see a doctor, after a lot of embarrassment at work or in public places, after avoiding to be too far away from a clean toilet because the bathroom becomes a very common place. Oh the growling stomach and the rushed trips to the bathroom, and the horror of checking what's coming out and the daily cramps.

Maybe you indeed do not need to know all the details of our symptoms, because you have your solutions, but we need to finally tell someone and there's a big trust that we put in you. Yes, we too are embarrassed to talk about our bloody poops and our smelly farts, but you are the only ones we can talk to about it; when we are finally ready to talk about this, please listen to us and try to empathise. And maybe, if you do listen carefully, you will eventually be able to tell us more than you tell us these days, one day you will be able to make connections between all that ails us and can suggest ways to prevent it in the future without drugs.

I ended up being listened to and I asked my questions and I got a few answers. And all is well if it ends well.

I will comment on the other aspects of my adventure in later posts, but, if you are a doctor, other medical professional or a medical professional to be, please always remember: we are not broken TVs, and you are not just repairmen.

More along the same lines in a post from new blog I added to my to read list: Surgeonsblog. Check it out:


And another one :)


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