Monday, January 30, 2012

Good News in the Mail

I am delighted today because of what came in the mail:  my letter of permission to see my bone specialist in AB arrived.  I will be covered under my present health care plan.  I have never had a response so quickly and so far in advance of my appointment date.  Whew!!

Part of the reason it arrived so quickly is that my surgeon sent the letter of request into the gov't medical officer about a week after I asked him to!  This rarely happens any more and I know it isn't because my surgeon is less crazy busy with patients than the other doctors in this province.  His office administrator is also very efficient and helpful.  Between them they have made this whole broken ankle experience and all the long drives to appointments in the city as good as possible. I am impressed.

I remember the "good old days" before the shortages of doctors, nurses, money, hospital beds and available OR's. It was in the days before people felt they had a right to go to the doctor for every case of the sniffles and before people and their friends who had nothing better to do all day made unnecessary appointments at medical clinics so they could sit around in the waiting rooms visiting each other between appointments........yes that does happen and it happens a lot.  It was before the days of feeling a sense of personal privilege and entitlement that plagues us nowadays and leads us to believe that busy professional doctors are supposed to drop everything to attend immediately to our every cold and hangnail that we used to try to treat at home first. 

My childhood physician was a Dr. Wilcox.  He would roll over in his grave if he became aware of the crazy schedules now required of the medical profession. Doctor Wilcox was never in a hurry.  He spent so long with each patient that we sometimes began consultation with him at 7pm for what had been a scheduled 3pm appointment.  Dr. Wilcox believed that getting to know his patients as whole people was vital to his treatment of their physical ailments.  He could afford to do that because he didn't have to see 30 patients or more in a day.  We didn't mind the excruciatingly long waits because we knew he would spend as much time with us as he had with those who had gone in ahead of us.  He knew our family histories both personal and medical.  He knew how to get me to take oral medications because he would use the samples in his office to show me how easily I could swallow them.  Treatment began right there for my problem because of the samples.  He knew how to converse with me to take away the pain of having plantar's warts dug out of my heel. He had time; something that has become so precious for doctors.  

There is no time any more. Burgeoning populations, shortages of doctors and trained medical professionals, abuses of the system by its users, rising costs, have combined to make the entire medical experience a difficult one for all involved. I feel sorry for patients with problems that truly need immediate attention but who are forced to wait for hours, weeks and even months to get help.  I feel sorry for doctors. When I enter a large hospital ER and find the doctor himself cleaning out the examination room and sterilizing the surroundings between patients I know something has gone very wrong.     

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