Monday, 31 October 2016

Health Care - Only when it's me!

   When I first started writing a medical blog I thought I'd have so many readers, writing so many comments, that I mightn't be able to  keep up with it.  After all, I'd been practicing medicine for fifty five years and on virtually every social and other occasions, no  matter how hard I tried to steer the conversation away from medicine, there seemed to be no escape.  None of the people I was interacting with were my patients but they all  assumed that I would have an overwhelming desire to  listen to their health stories and those of their families, every one of them unique, from their mother's gallstones (the biggest the doctor had ever seen!) to their grandfather's prostate.  Many of them wanted to point out the inadequacies of the health care system and particularly of the physicians and nurses they had to deal with.  I must add, a few, a very few, wanted to tell me about the excellent care and consideration they had received but they were few and far between.  Some, seemed to feel that not only was the whole profession incompetent and uncaring, but that I  personally was responsible.
   I listened endlessly to complaints, some subtle and some resentful, about the vast amount of money doctors made, from folks with a thirty-five hour work week, benefits and fat pension, when I was working twice as  many hours with no benefits and no pension (until I was smart enough to become an academic and working for he University, which is, of course a civil service job).  When I pointed out some of these facts, they would point out  to me, sometimes rather aggressively, that it was I who decided to go into medicine and I knew what that implied before I made the choice.  I didn't bother to point out to them, that no young person, inspired by idealism and excitement and glamour of  a medical career really has any idea of what it is going to cost them.  It costs them their youth and many of the joyful and carefree experiences that most young persons enjoy.  It exposes them to all of the tragedies and catastrophes and suffering that is the human burden, that most people of their age can't even imagine.  That has a high price tag.
   One of the most irritating aspects of the chats encountered in the social milieu was from the folks with no medical or scientific background, who were determined to inflict me with crackpot alternate medical treatment for various conditions. They usually were not so  much interested in discussing the possible scientific merits of whatever they were advocating, as in receiving an endorsement of whatever they were proposing.  When they didn't get that, they were in no doubt that it was because of the vested interests of the medical profession, who were really only condemning it, because doctors would lose money if they let people find out that almost any condition could be cured by a gluten free diet or coffee ground enemas that they could get in  Mexico for only a few thousand dollars.  No one ever seemed to grow tired of medical tales, especially when they were telling them.
   So when I started my medical blog,  I thought folks would be thrilled to have a forum in which they could discuss any and all issues related to health care, personal, community, practical or theoretical.  Interesting and unusual stories, serious and not so serious, amusing and funny incidents.
   Two years later, after blogging twice a week with a variety of articles and anecdotes, I found that there was no discussion, few comments, no raising of interesting issues other than those I raised myself. Not even any complaints. 
   Then the light turned on and it dawned on me!   People are only interested in medicine when it effects them personally.  If one is currently not involved with the health care system it really doesn't matter very much.  It seems to be there, was once admired and even now isn't that bad, although some people seem to be complaining.  That's why Canadian health care is now near the bottom of the list in the developed world.
   And that's why I'm cutting down on the frequency of so I can turn my attention to a completely different type of blog!  I will appear here from time to time, but not on a bi-weekly basis as in the past.
   Your comments if you have any, will as always, be welcome.

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