It’s time to talk about doctors.
Yes, you knew it was coming. We all knew it was coming. Any blog about health or illness, especially chronic illness (the C-word’s coming out early, folks, hang onto your hats), is bound to talk about doctors sooner or later. It’s inevitable. If you’re sick for any substantial period (as in ill, not perverted), you’re going to go to a doctor, because that’s supposed to help. And, naturally, if you are sick for a substantial period, that means it obviously didn’t.
It is very difficult to talk about doctors, because most of them are so dang incompetent, and it’s incredibly difficult not to just devolve into ranting against them and the System in general (you have to capitalize the word System when you’re talking about the Healthcare System. I’m sure you can feel, if not exactly understand, why). I try my hardest to be a vaguely polite, nice sort of guy, and while I fail fairly regularly, I like to think I’m not some kind of flaming loudmouth spray-painting threats on overpasses. Admittedly, I can’t use spray paint because of my asthma, and I’m just as likely to up and fly as to climb something with this spine of mine, but still. I like to think I’m not a person who runs around railing against the universe in general. Of course, I can’t really run, exactly… I think my metaphors are breaking down.
The point is, I try to talk (or write, rather) like a reasonable and educated being, and maintaining that while talking about doctors is difficult. When you’ve collapsed three times in a row in front of a highly trained specialist (who didn’t try to catch you, even when you fell down right next to her) and been pronounced “perfectly normal,” you naturally feel tempted to lynch the whole race of doctors in general. Well, perhaps not the whole race. I have known some good doctors. Well, no, actually, he’s dead. He was crushed by a tree branch, because the world can’t have nice things. I know at least one reasonably decent doctor who’s alive, though. All the rest, though, well… I mean, sometimes they do their jobs. On good days.
I’m not here to evaluate the quality of doctors, though. Alright, well, maybe I am, but not quite in that way. I’m here to talk about why doctors suck. No, wait, actually, that sounds way too overpass-painter-y. Can you really call a graffiti-painter a painter? Wouldn’t that be more of a grafittiman? Or is that sexist? Grafittier? Wouldn’t that describe something more grafittied? Oh dear.
I’m here to talk about what’s flawed with the System and with doctors and so forth, partly in the hopes of bringing some awareness and therefore improvement, but mostly for the sake of ranting and in accordance with the Law of Emotional Discharges (for every emotionless action there must an equal and opposite emotional action, or at the very least a wicked buildup of bad feelings, which inevitably result in an opposite emotional action of a squared magnitude).
A big problem with doctors is that they’re made out to be infallible. If the doctor says you’re sick, you’re sick, and if the doctor says you’re healthy, you’re healthy. There’s no other way about it. God knows the patient would never know if they’re sick. That would just be crazy. I mean, there would have to be some sort of symptoms experienced by the patient to clue them in to their sickness. And we all know the only symptoms that exist are the ones the doctors decide you have.
In all seriousness, the way the System is set up is completely skewed, even down to how doctors are educated. In medical school, students are taught to differentiate between the information provided by the patient, and the information observed by the doctor. And the information the doctor observes always takes precedent. Of course, he isn’t the one who’s sick, but somehow it’s all perfectly logical, because he’s a Professional.
Professionals are the gods of society. If scientists say it’s true, it must be true. If a doctor says it’s so, it must be so. There’s a reason we don’t call politicians Professionals; Professionals always tell the truth. Professionals can’t be wrong, because they were Educated, which means a load of ideas were pumped into their heads. Just like we’re Educated to think Professionals are always right.
And it’s stupid, really. It’s really, really stupid. It’s stupid to think that doctors are somehow repositories of all medical knowledge and wisdom, that doctors are somehow automatically authorities on their special subjects. Of course, that’s how they’re styled—they’re literally called Specialists—but it’s still stupid. We’re all people, we’re all humans, we’re all imperfect, and plenty of us are stupid and make mistakes. The problem with doctors, of course, is that they don’t acknowledge this. Doctors are styled to be right, and so they have to be right, and nothing in the world will get them to admit otherwise.
And this isn’t just a doctor problem. This is a problem with many Professionals (though especially doctors, insofar as I’ve seen). It’s a problem with Highly Educated Individuals. Education is merely the pumping of ideas into a person—it’s merely the forcing of a worldview on a mind. Those ideas might not be good ones, and that worldview might be flawed, but it doesn’t matter, because as soon as a person is Educated, they’re automatically Right. And the more someone is Educated, the more Right they become. Scientists know all about Science, because they’re Scientists, and no one is allowed to question that (which is ironic, since Science is literally the practice of asking questions).
And it’s not like this is all completely wrong. People are Educated so they can learn things, so they can know things, so, in a certain manner of speaking, they can be Right. But the trouble is, once people are Right, they can think they don’t need to learn anything anymore. They can become closeminded, entrenched in their own Educated ideas and ideals, and they can refuse to believe anyone else could possibly know better than them. In other words, they can become stupid. All it takes to be stupid is to believe you don’t need to learn and thus, naturally, always know best. Being Educated can easily mean being a stupid loudmouth.
And this can apply to doctors. Doctors are highly Educated people, many of whom probably should’ve been scientists but instead wanted to actually make money. I went to a geneticist that literally refused to test for any of the potential diseases my other doctors were concerned about (no doctors ever trust each other—it’s a bit like Game of Thrones, at least as far as I can guess, never having seen the show), instead wanting to do tests to contribute to research on Autism. I wasn’t going to the doctor for my Autism—the idea seems absurd to me, just like going to the doctor for being neurotypical or liking carrot cake—but he still wanted to do his research. He wasn’t concerned about actually giving me medical care; he actually wandered off after introducing himself and left his secretary to do all the actual medical work.
That’s the real trouble, at the end of the day: Doctors don’t listen. You hear medical Industry people talk endlessly about how they have doctors who “really listen” and “really care” and “have great bedside manner,” but the fact of the matter is that, if you’re actually bragging about the fact that you respect your patients like ordinary human beings, you probably don’t. It’s like that classical abusive person who won’t shut their mouth about how much they love whoever they’re abusing. And the reason why doctors don’t respect their patients and don’t listen to them is that doctors are Educated Professionals. Doctors are, for the most part, so darn Educated their minds are completely closed; they know everything, so they don’t need to learn anything, so they’re always Right, so they don’t need to listen to whoever’s sitting in front of them.
And it’s not like it’s entirely their fault. This mentality is Educated into them, and reinforced by the System. I mean, simply speaking, the whole System is set up for hypochondriacs—a bizarre state of affairs, since they are a very small minority. I was at the hospital the other day and I overheard a young family being denied the feeding tube food their wheelchair-bound son needed because the tearful receptionist couldn’t do anything to get around the bureaucracy. The System isn’t set up so people can get what they need—it’s set up so as little as possible is lost to as few people as excusable. Because the medical Industry is an Industry, and therefore a business, it runs by the old business creed: Maximum profits, minimize expenses. And, to minimize expenses, you have to minimize treatment. What’s the best way to do that? Educate your doctors so that they distrust all their patients’ symptoms.
I’ve said a lot of less-than-nice things about doctors throughout this post, and I do want to apologize if I’ve slung any mud or painted any overpasses. That wasn’t the intention. It’s not like doctors are the only victims of Educated Stupidity. It’s everywhere where Professionals are found, and we’re all effected by it, even subconsciously. Naturally, I’m not saying all Educated people are stupid, I’m just saying Educated Stupidity is a phenomenon, and we should be wary of it. This whole thing was supposed to be more of a sensible criticism of it, doctors, and the borderline malevolent System. Ultimately, I think it was just a long rant about education and stupidity and so forth, but hopefully it wasn’t completely unbearable.