Thursday, 3 June 2010

Visiting the doctors.

Tomorrow I am visiting the hospital. I won't be staying. They will not be examining me. I know they have a big problem with hospital acquired infections and the only way they'd get me in as a patient is unconscious. I'd only be there until I woke up. There's a big sign at every entrance proudly proclaiming it as a smoke-free zone so you don't have to be scared of maybe, possibly, perhaps getting sick twenty years from now. It is not a C. difficile-free zone so you do have to worry about getting seriously ill tomorrow. That's NHS prioritisation for your health.

I'll be delivering some of the Stuff that fixes all kinds of gut infections. I have a bottle of it at home too. Just in case. Then it's back to the lab for a good scouring with antibacterial soap then home for a shower and to burn the clothes I wore there.

I last went to the doctor before I went to China in 1991. I had to have a whole load of injections, including one (well, two) for rabies which was futile because the only dogs I saw in China were roasted. Yes, I have bitten dog. Before that, I last visited as a patient when I had a boil. This boil burst and brown stuff came out, and it left a half-inch hole. Not having experienced brown stuff coming out of a random orifice before, I phoned the doctor with no real hope of seeing anyone. My last visit had been for a stye on my eyelid, and by the time the appointment came around it had gone away on its own.

Several days later, with the hole gradually filling itself in without medical intervention, the appointment came around. I thought, well, I haven't been in a while, best call in and say hello. So I did.

First question - 'Do you smoke?'

After a long pause and a blank expression, I ventured to enquire whether brown-stuff boils were connected to smoking. Was it tobacco juice that came out? If I had known, I wouldn't have thrown it away.

No, no, the doctor said. It's just that we have to ask.

Do I have to answer? Is it of any relevance to the hole I have here? I wasn't confrontational, just curious. I'd been to many doctors in the past and they had always been concerned only with the actual presented ailment, not with my lifestyle choices.

It seemed that he did expect an answer, so I said yes, I like a smoke. With that done, we got down to the actual boil remnant and no further mention of smoking. Because it was of no relevance.

I had to visit subsequently for the inoculations but I have never been again. Why bother, if they are going to nag me about smoking when I turn up with erysipelas or piles? Might as well wait until it goes away on its own.

In order to encourage people like me, who always present with far-too-advanced illnesses because we don't want to be nagged at by smug gits in suits, the health service has decided to add questions on drinking to the list. So now, those who don't smoke but who like a drink will also avoid visiting the doctor until their symptoms become unbearable. That's a great way to cut waiting times. Put off any sick people from visiting.

So if I ever do have to visit a doctor, I will speak first.

I smoke more than you approve of. I drink more than you approve of. I eat more salt and fat than you approve of. I am aware that the alcohol units limits were made up, and that the five-a-day nonsense was made up. I know how fat is metabolised and I know what salt deprivation does. So if you'd like to tick those boxes now, we can spend the three minutes you have alloted me after my four hour wait actually talking about what's wrong with me.

I suggest that anyone visiting a doctor develop a similar short spiel. That way, you might actually get some medical attention rather than a lecture on how you should be living.

If enough people do it for long enough, a doctor somewhere might eventually get the idea.

If we don't, then you can expect a lecture on global warming every time you take your car for an MOT and a nagging on energy efficiency every time you get your heating system serviced.

These sort of things don't stop on their own.

18 comments:

JuliaM said...

"I suggest that anyone visiting a doctor develop a similar short spiel. That way, you might actually get some medical attention rather than a lecture on how you should be living."

It seems that the doctors are in agreement with you...

That survey's a bit inconvenient for the NuPuritans, what? ;)

Fausty said...

Similar experiences of doctors and NHS hospitals here, Leg-Iron.

Most of the time, I diagnosed myself correctly long before the doctor did - not because I'm clever, but because I have my best interests at heart and am not in the least bit interested in ticking boxes.

I had the misfortune to come down with pneumonia a while back - discovered on a Saturday. That meant my having to check into an NHS hospital. The nurses were sloppy and indolent and I could've inserted the canulas more efficiently and hygienically myself - one-handed, blindfolded.

I'd love to read about your time in China. Any chance of a blog on the subject in the future? :)

Dick Puddlecote said...

I've been to the doctor twice in the past 12 years (and once was a mandatory check up on changing surgery). When they nag about smoking, I reply that when doctors stop killing people, I'll quit smoking.

Tends to shut them up. ;-)

Dioclese said...

And donlt forget to tell them your age and weight as well. Then they have a full set of excuses for why you're ill.

I'm thinking of starting a fat old piss artist smokers protest group!

subrosa said...

Now Mr LI. Don't you dare burn clothes. Put them on a boil wash.

As for doctors, I'm not lectured anymore. Being a c.diff survivor has gained a little respect from them, especially as I smoke (too much) and drink (moderately, by my standards anyway).

If my GP mentioned my habits she's fully aware of the consequences. The letter I wrote to the GP who didn't diagnose my c.diff and kept me in agony for a further week is on my file.

Ashtrayhead said...

I haven't been to the doctors for a while but if I get asked if I smoke I may take it as an invitation to light up! Might even offer the doc one.

saucepan said...

A lot of the boxes that GP's tick have been put there for the benefit of the pharma co's.

Wondered why nearly everyone is classed as obese, diagnosed with high blood pressure and or diabetes?

They keep tinkering around with the 'normal' limits. Everyone is different so how can there be a 'normal' level for anything?

Basically, if there's a pill for it, 'you are at risk of blah, blah, blah'.

Oh, and I've also self-treated for abcesses and survived :D

I take it as a sign that my body needs a rest.

Anonymous said...

We are 'patients' so that is why we wait in the waiting room, patiently. After all, we have nothing better to do have we?

Roger Penney

Leg-iron said...

JuliaM - I think a lot of street-level police are also unhappy with the way idiots dictate their actions from on high, but there's no mechanism for them to do anything about it.

The NHS punishes whistleblowers severely. I suspect all public service Quangistas run the same sort of tyrannical administration.

Leg-iron said...

Fausty- I was only there for ten days. Work, not holiday, so I wasn't confined to the 'safe' areas.

They have some perfumed spirit which is deadly. They also have a custom that a guest's glass must never be less than full. So, drinking with pig-farmers, you have no idea how much you've had.

I was somewhat hung over...

I did manage to utterly disgust them by eating a whole raw garlic clove. I take my 'omnivore' designation seriously ;)

Leg-iron said...

Dick P - I'll have to go armed with hospital avoidable death rates if I have to visit one day. Funny they don't allow smoking anywhere in the grounds. Perhaps it's far too slow.

They can't wait around for you to maybe die of smoking. They are busy people. Take this, and die now. Don't you know there's a waiting list?

Leg-iron said...

Dioclese - they know my age. They sent me a card for my 50th birthday.

I shat on it and sent it back. It was what they wanted.

Leg-iron said...

Subrosa - all my clothes come from supermarkets these days, apart from the good stuff other people buy at Christmas to try to force me to be fashionable. I don't see why expensive clothes are any warmer than cheap ones, and having all my clothes look the same makes the morning choice of cladding easy.

It's odd though. I can spend all day in the lab and not get a single bacterium on me. Five minutes in the garden and I have a shirt even the charity collectors would refuse.

Leg-iron said...

Ashtrayhead - that's a good one.

'Do you smoke?'

'Why, that's very civil of you. Cigar?'

Leg-iron said...

Saucepan - there has been a lot of talk of 'diagnosis creep' in certain barely-classified ailments.

If the Pharma lot can get you diagnosed as bipolar, you're on their medication for life. You don't even have an option to quit.

It's far easier to escape tobacco than pharmaceutical companies.

Leg-iron said...

Anon - I have to wonder if the rise in high blood pressure is connected in any way to those long waits to get it checked?

Anonymous said...

I'm astonished no-one has mentioned "ker-ching". I read somewhere that doctors use this to refer to the dozens of targets they have to hit to earn extra money.

My GP who barely made eye contact since he was staring at his monitor simply ran through his check list every time I visited.

Smoke.
Drink.
Weight.
Blood pressure.
Diet.
Off for a blood test.

And so on. When enough boxes are ticked----ker-ching goes the cash register. And it is not peanuts either --they get thousands.

And have you ever had a survey to complete while you wait to be seen?

Just putting the survey forms and little pencils out for people to fill in and --ker-ching.

Labour targets--always good for a laugh.

naturalnoble said...

Here at the QMC in Nottingham there is a non-smoking area where all the ambulances park (at the main entrance, not A&E). It is sheltered, so it's presumably illegal to smoke there anyway. Everyone does though, and nobody seems to care, least of all the paramedics. Ducks also live here. There isn't a body of water at the main entrance so maybe they like (or are addicted to, depending on your righteousometor) the smoke.

This whole place actually seems quite liberal (by British standards, not actual liberty). I've never noticed any of the Righteous games you talk about. Maybe you should come back.

I've also never been given particularly terrible diseases. Then again I guess I only go in the safe areas. Either way there are ill people all over the shop.

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