Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sometimes I hate my profession

My brother-in-law recounts the fact that his 92-year-old mother has had some age-related aches and gripes which her GP investigated appropriately and found no serious, or indeed reversible, cause for. She wanted a second opinion and paid good money to see a physician privately. This is all second-hand, so I may have something completely wrong here, but said physician, having pocketed the nelsons and without any further investigations beyond a good, old-fashioned clincal examination (nothing wrong with that, I'm quite an advocate) told the old dear to cut out fats and alcohol and stuck her on a statin (a cholesterol-lowering drug).

She had a miserable Christmas watching all around her feasting like good Catholics.

She's 92, for crying out loud! If I reach 92 that may be the point at which I take up smoking Havana cigars and upping my intake of single malt, bacon rolls and chocolate eclairs. What would I have to lose?

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Blogger Martin said...

Paulinus, one of the unfortunate consequences of suffering from one of the most extreme and unusual forms of the Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome is that drugs don't work. The combination of citalopram and librium doesn't cure you, but it does make you feel absolutely wonderful. Sulpiride, a vicious, nasty poison, doesn't work. What does work is tobacco and alcohol - don't know why, wish they didn't, but that's life I suppose. There must be many conditions whose cure or method of management is more likely to kill you than the condition itself.

Another consequence is that you collect neurologists the way other men collect stamps or antique furniture. Believe me, there are times when I hate your profession as well; but such hatred is as nothing for the disdain in which I hold my own, whose members would probably sue you for prescribing a bacon roll to a woman of 92.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Paulinus said...

The tobacco and alcohol stuff is interesting. There looks to be some evidence in the literature (and the nicotine makes physiological sense). But you'll never get a doctor advocating it, even if it works.

I started off wanting to be a neurologist (and did a job at a teaching hospital down South with that intention) but I realised soon enough that most of the patients who got better had illnesses that would just get better anyway and I spent the rest of the time palliating.

Hence my current line of work.

11:07 PM  

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