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Saturday, 24 September 2011

Patient Freakout In Australia by Greg Scott





“Can’t you see what's wrong with him?” says the professor with an air of superiority,

“No.” says the poor young intern.

I’m sitting starkers on a plastic chair having just been told I don’t have melanoma though the professor has the final say.

“Acromegaly!”

“What?”

“It’s a tumor on your pituitary gland at the front of your brain,” he says, stooping low and looking me straight in the face, “HAVE….YOUR….  HANDS …AND… HEAD…. GROWN…. SUDDENLY….LATELY?”

“No….”

“Look at him!" He's treating me like a  specimen and showing off in front of the pretty young intern. ”He’s a big guy. Look at his feet! That’s why you’ve got diabetes!”

“I haven’t got diabetes”

I’d found a “you’ve got” Doctor. I went home and googled. I’ve never had acromegaly. My chance of having it in any one year was 3 in 6,000,000 and it’s nothing to do with dermatologists. He’s probably never seen a case. He was just trying to impress a cute chick.

  Most doctors in Australia are “might have” doctors apparently because they’re afraid of litigation. If you go with a sprained ankle they’ll tell you you might have bone cancer. I’m a really healthy guy but over the years the list of disease I might have is rather long but fun to peruse in hindsight so here goes:-
1 Heart attack,(My blood pressure is 120/80 , my cholesterol 3.5)
2 Prostate cancer,
3 Bladder cancer,
4 Bowel cancer,
5 Stomach cancer,
6 Oesophageal cancer,
7 Testicular cancer,
8 Thyroid cancer,
6 Crohn’s  disease,
10 Whipple’s disease,
11 Ulcerative colitis.
12 Melanoma,
13 Duodenal ulcer,
14 Barratt’s oesophagus,

That’s just off the top of my head. They tell you all the might haves and send you for tests, which are another freak out, as you have to wait for the results. A friend of mind took his results to the specialist. Only to be told he was dead! The specialist said, “I’m sorry to hear about your brother.” My friend replied, “I don’t have a brother. The results are mine.” My friend is still here even though, in an attempt to extricate himself, the specialist gave him three months to live.
   The tests can be fun too. The radiographers often realize they have a captive audience. Once, in the ct scanner, I was told not to move a muscle followed by the sad story of the recent death of the radiographer’s mother.  Another time, when I was pinned down by an anal probe (an ultra sound gadget on a stick just like aliens use), the doctor started sobbing and describing the recent terrible death of a friend from the exact same cancer he was probing me for. I can handle having “tell me everything” written on my face, but on my arse too!
   Trans rectal ultra sound for imaginary cancer sucks but imaginary testicular cancer was quite fun. A cute chick covered my balls with Vaseline and the gizmo wasn’t even cold.

  Most of the above may sound bad, but it’s even worse when you have kids. My son had flue-like symptoms and didn’t want to go to school. As he was leaving the doctor said, “Come back in 4 weeks for some tests. I want to make sure you don’t have Lymphoma.” We couldn’t get him to school for 4 weeks he was so terrified.
  But even worse was the day he had tummy ache. He was eleven years old and first the doctor insisted he had asthma (he doesn’t) and made my wife buy expensive medication, then he asked three times if he’d ever considered suicide!
This is true! Suicide for a tummy ache! Right! That would get him out of school!
  And what’s with the three months to live thing? I know many people who’ve been given this. Get a grip doctors. Do you all the tests you want but don't tell us what you're testing for till the end when you've got a real result. You’re freaking people out and then wondering why they don’t want to go to the doctor ever again.
Litigation?
We should be able to sue for the freak out! There’s such a thing as the nocebo effect. It’s the opposite of the placebo effect and can make people really sick not just maybe sick. I’ve ended up with an anxiety disorder from all my imaginary illnesses. I’ve had it for ten years and it totally sucks. Thanks for nothing.
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