Doctors and Drugs

Campbell or Camp, my sparring partner in all things, controversial, intellectual or trivial, didn’t look so good this Thursday evening. Maybe it was the lighting or the fact that we haven’t seen much of the sun lately; just monsoon like rain, fog and more rain. He looked kind of pale and even his posture was not the usual straight back, upright with chin thrust forward attitude, but instead he looked somewhat compressed, sunken in with his chin on his chest.

“What’s up Camp, you look like shit,” I said, trying to be casual.

“Thanks for your concern,” he said giving me the evil eye. “I’m feeling a bit under the weather, stuffed nose, clogged head, sore throat.”

“I think a hot rum toddy is in order,” I suggested and waved Vicky over for a consultation. “Yes, we can arrange that,” she said, “rum, lemon juice, honey, hot water and a cinnamon stir stick.”

“Sounds like medicine,” Camp grumbled

“Let’s call it Deep Throat,” Vicky suggested with a wink, which got at least a chuckle out of my friend.

“You gonna see a doctor?” I asked which snapped Camp straight back up with his chin aggressively thrust forward and his eyes big and on fire, with fever or fervour was hard to tell.

“It will be a cold day in hell before I go and see a doctor for a common cold. They’re no better than car mechanics and if you find one you can trust you’re a lucky man. I have yet to meet one. They’re bone fixers and pill dispensers. Do I need to repeat how in the US alone the doctors turned millions of patients into drug addicts and how the health care business is the biggest growth industry in history? Don’t even get me started.”

“I tend to agree with you there Camp, I don’t have much good to say about doctors either. I just read an article in my Swiss paper about how unreliable and arbitrary doctors’ consultations are. How they cannot determine anything conclusive with a stethoscope because it has a shallow penetration threshold, maybe a couple of centimeters, nowhere deep enough to diagnose lung or intestinal problems. Most of those surface examinations have at best a placebo effect this study concluded.”

“Muriel’s friend took herself to the hospital because she feared an imminent heart attack. This woman is a nurse and not prone to hysteria. They gave her some aspirin and sent her home, claiming there is nothing wrong with her. That night she couldn’t sleep and the next morning she took the first ferry into town to St.Pauls Hospital where she was immediately hospitalized but still suffered a debilitating stroke that put her into a wheel chair and months of physiotherapy.”

“There are exceptions Camp,” I said, “like ‘doctors without borders’ doing incredible work in desperate situations. Also, remember when I had my busted knee fixed? Tore my ACL, MCL and meniscus, as well as dislodged a piece of bone under my kneecap. I stepped into a divot, twisted and kicked, missing the ball completely but instead collapsed like a felled tree. The doc had a plastic model of a knee on his desk and showed me exactly what he was going to do. ‘Pull this ligament, attach it over here, then pull it to the other side and staple it there, cut off a piece of the cartilage and take out the bone fragment. Takes me about 45 minutes, takes you about six to nine months.’ When I went to the hospital for a check-up after the operation he recognized my knee but had no idea who I was.”

Camp laughed, “That’s what I call a good doc.”

“What about drugs, you must take the odd Tylenol or Advil, maybe even vitamin C or D which is apparently good for lack of sunshine? It’s supposed to help people like me with SAD, Seasonal Affected Disorder. Although no amount of pills or artificial lamps can replace real sunshine.”

Camp just scoffed. It’s all snake oil and witches brew, give me a shot of brandy or Noni juice for more serious ailments.”

“Noni juice?”

“According to Pa, a self proclaimed guru I met in Raratonga, in the Cook Islands, many years ago Noni juice prevents cancer, promotes a healthy liver and even improves memory capacity. That sounds as good to me as any other medicine.”

“So you trust a self-proclaimed shaman more than your doctor who went through ten years of medical school. Doesn’t sound right to me.”

“Why are we supposed to have faith in the medical system, like it’s some sort of religion? Faith does not replace trust and I want to trust my mechanic and doctor, not believe in them,” Camp grumbled.

“I trust the nurses more than the doctors. At least they actually talk to you like a human being and answer questions. I’m just grateful that we have a universal system here and don’t have to bring a credit card and a financial adviser to a medical consultation.”

“Now that I can agree with.”

“How is that toddyl?”

“Probably better than anything the doctor prescribes.”

“That calls for another one.” I held up one finger for my beer and mimicked one finger pointing down my throat for Vicky.