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The downfall of modern medicine

April 28, 2010

My dad was a doctor, a surgeon and apparently everyone (patients, friends,working friends etc) tells me……. a really good listener and wise adviser.

Ever since his passing, I visited a couple of his friends  who are doctors, some other general practioners, other doctors of various specialities for  whichever injury or illness I required.

And boy, was I so bloody freakin frustrated.

Severely frustrated.

The first 1 minute belonged to me. Before 1 minute even passes, I am immediately cut off by the doctor.

The doctor quickly writes down and mumbles out the medication names after hearing my symptoms, if not he would not even want to listen to me and just motion me to get onto the examination chair.

And guess what? I do not freakin get well.

I can ask them “What cause this to happen?”

Generic answers. If it is my sinus acting up, “Oh! maybe it’s your bed having dustmites. Your room could be dusty. You are in aircon etc.” If my arms are hurting, “Oh! It could be just your mouse. Change your mouse and don’t use the computer so much.”

Look. For gawd-damn 23 years of my life, my sinuses got me down once every year or once every few years living in a superbly dusty home (because this is an asian city), my mattresses were never vacuumed, I only use fan as my only source of cool comfort, and everytime I fell sick, my dad would have to ask me what is wrong with me in  detail, right down to the phelgm colour, how often do I have the urge to spit it out, ask me what is happening in school, am I doing a lot of work etc. And he proceeds to enter his countless bags of medicine to find that concoction of 2-3 types of medicine for me to take. 3-4 days and I’m cured.

So I wondered, why is it that he can cure me whilst the rest of the doctors can’t? Are they really that pathetically incompetent? Do I really have to point it towards my father’s supreme medical intelligence (afterall, he is a brilliant surgeon and doctor…you should see how many paintings are given in his honour from patients)? I mean I even went to the extent of finding out the educational background of his students/doctors because my dad would always say that only doctors from this or that institution are really good. They are the A plus students.

Well, I went to see A plus students/doctors. Nada. No cure. Yes there would be symptomatic relief for a day or two but nada…no cure.

Imagine my great disappointment in Western Medicine. I was brought up to believe that ONLY western medicine could cure people, other types of herbs or concoctions are merely supplements for the body. I was crushed, upset and almost ready to blast the entire incompetent medical field.

Until I realised what is really the reason why his students or the doctors fail in curing the patient after reading this  article (note:focus on the difference between therapy and pharmacology).

Everything dawned upon me.

They fuckin don’t listen.

Yes, I said the bad word but it was for the effect.

They listen out for symptoms and proceed to process in their brains for all the pharmacology that they have learnt.

Ok, so for this symptom…find a drug that can suppress that symptom.

Next symptom…find another drug that can suppress that symptom.

and this goes on whirring in their brains.

Examination of patients has to be relied not on their 5 senses but on the machine, the CT scan, the MRI, the X-ray machine, the EMG, the ECG etc.

Do they even look at the patient’s face to see how the patient is feeling?

Do they bother to ask what the patient has been doing at work/school/home?

Do they bother to ask if the patient has been sleeping well, what do they eat for their three meals?

Do they even  bother to ask if the patient has been having sex? (Yes! It is an important question!)

All the answers point to NO.

With no inkling nor desire to really care for the patient and probably looking only forward to the cash register ring, the patient walks out with medicine and  probably more than $50 to $200 lighter, probably going to get a bit better because of the symptomatic relief but not cured.

This all jolts my memory when I spend practically my entire childhood in my father’s clinic. I basically either sit in his office looking quietly as he talks to the patient or hide behind this wooden screen in which I get to hear all conversations.

And these are some of the questions I hear:

“What do you eat for lunch and dinner?”

“Do you eat breakfast?”

“How many hours do you sleep everyday?”

“Do you exercise?”

“Do you drink or smoke?”

“Is there anything troubling you at home or work?”

“When was your last holiday?”

“Do you have sex regularly with your husband/wife?” ( I remembered a patient storming out of the room because of this question, not knowing that there’s a deeper reason for asking.)

“How’s your husband/wife/mother/father doing?”

“Do you sleep with aircon?”

“What do you wear to sleep? With T-shirts and pants or with shorts/pajamas?”

The list of questions can go on……he, of course does not use all but quite a few from here.

After asking these questions and listening to the patient unleash all troubles, emotions and answers, he proceeds to dispense something special.

Customised advice.

“Don’t eat cold fruits. No watermelon, oranges, pears and cooling things. Only unrefrigerated apple.”

” No aircon. Only fan but make sure it blows not towards your head and chest.”

” Wear T-shirt and pants to sleep, not shorts. And if need be, wear a sweater if you start coughing…it is the draft from the wind that is causing the itchy throat. Wrap a scarf around your neck. Wear a cap on your head at night if your window is near your bed.”

“Eat meat. Boil some herbal soup with chicken.”

” Take a 10 to 15 minute nap during lunch time. Take a slow walk after dinner.”

“Relax after work. Sleep earlier.”

“Don’t drink so much alcohol. It’s ok to drink once in a way but not every week.”

” Put less sugar in your food.”

and etc alongside with whatever advice he can give to the patient.

And then finally he spends less than 2 minutes about the medications.

Isn’t there a difference? A big difference?

This is what will bring the downfall of modern medicine.

Doctors simply focussing on the symptoms only, finding suppresants to momentarily stop the symptoms from coming back.

Doctors simply using their brain, not their heart to sense the patient’s state of ,not pyschology, but mind, life and health, instead they just focus on the localised area of problem.

Doctors relying on the X-ray machine, the CT scan, the MRI etc even for the simplest diagnosis which if they use their senses and diagnostic skills properly, they probably can figure it out.

Doctors who don’t listen.

Doctors who don’t care and only came into the occupation for the money.

Or simply doctors who don’t care and rely on the pharmacology and textbooks they have etched into their minds.

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