Of Prostitutes and Physicians and Avoiding Icepicks

My blood pressure is not as high as I expected it might be, based on volume of the sounds in my head. 134/87 is, in fact, relatively close to the “normal” range, if memory serves me correctly.

I frequently hear my blood pumping through my body. The sound is enough to drive me mad. It is not really loud, but its volume is high enough that it intrudes on my thoughts to a degree sufficient to be upsetting to my serenity. As if I have experienced serenity these past many months. Would that I had.

My primary care doctor, the one who abandoned me and the rest of  his patients early this year, advised me to take my blood pressure every day and to make a record of the readings. The purpose, he said, was to capture shifts that could give me significant warnings about changes in my health. Dr. Sparkledogma was (and probably still is) a friendly, approachable, very young doctor. I am sure he’s still very young, even nine months after abandoning his patients. By the way, Sparkledogma is not the doctor’s name; I am using an alias to protect our respective privacies.

I do not feel abandoned when a grocery store clerk or a financial advisor or an attorney changes jobs; I might miss them when they go on to greener pastures, but I do not feel a sense of personal betrayal. But that is not so when someone in whom I place the security of my health and well-being moves on. When such people move on to new jobs, I feel let down; as if their assurance that my health is among their highest priorities was misleading, at best, or—more likely—an outright lie. How could they be lured away from tending to me in sickness and in health? How could more money, a less stressful schedule, an opportunity to work closer to home, or more friendly co-workers matter more to them than the health and well-being of someone who is, in the final analysis, a stranger? As I mull this over, it occurs to me that I am paying someone to care. Were those people in a different profession, I might not label them as doctors or nurses; I might label them as—to use a polite term—prostitutes. That is, of course, patently unfair. And it is simply untrue. Isn’t it?

Let’s remove judgment from the assessment. Both roles fill a professed need (the legitimacy of which can be called into question in either case, depending on circumstances). Both roles involve remuneration for service. So, are we all (or most of us, at least) guilty of applying different judgmental standards on the two professions? Social norms are fickle; they are rife with prejudice and bigotry.

This matter of feeling abandoned by a paid professional—who chooses to go in a different direction without the client—reminds me of an Australian series I recently watched on Netflix. The series, called Rake, features a n’er do well libertine barrister who, early on, is astounded when the gorgeous prostitute he has been paying for several years (and about whom he has fantasies that they are truly “in love”) decides to pursue another profession. The barrister is stunned to learn that, for her, the relationship was strictly transactional.  She tells him something to the effect that “you paid me to behave in a certain way in your presence and that ‘s what I did…apparently I did it well.” Good doctors behave as if they are caring confidants; their patients are the most important people in the world at the moment the patient is in their presence. Do not get me wrong. This is not a criticism; it is an acknowledgement of their professionalism. That’s what they should do; unless their patients feel a sense of absolute trust, the doctor cannot do everything within the doctor’s power to care for the patient.

Speaking of doctors, the doctor who abandoned me has been replaced. I got a call yesterday, letting me know that my annual physical, scheduled for next month, will be with the new doctor (unless, I was told, I wanted someone else). I chose to stick with the new doctor, Dr. Geezerfingle. I think Dr. Geezerfingle, whose first name I did not get during the call, recently moved here from a desolate small town in the midwest. If he is the one I found by searching Google, he has practiced medicine in the same little town for a very long time. I suspect he was lured to the Village by the promise of a slower pace, decent money, and a retirement “vibe.” Yes, I make a lot of assumptions. I could be wrong about Dr. Geezerfingle. He could be a strapping young physician, still wet-behind-the-ears, anxious to make his mark in general medicine with an undeclared specialty in gerontology. But, frankly, I doubt it.

The thumping or pumping sound in my ears has, thankfully, gone almost silent. Some mornings, it seems so loud I feel I might lose my mind. Seriously, some days it is so distracting I feel like stabbing myself in the hand with an icepick just to force my attention elsewhere so the noise will not be so all-consuming. Fortunately, I have been able to avoid icepicks by directly my attention to the keyboard and the screen, though this morning I feel a rather nasty, sharp pain in the middle of the top (opposite the palm) of my right hand. I felt it yesterday afternoon, too, as I was turning a screwdriver, with all the force I could muster, in an effort to remove a long screw from a board that forms the cap of my back deck railing. That’s another story that’s probably almost as interesting as this one. I’ll spare the unfortunates who stumble upon this blog; I won’t write about it.

The time is 7:16 and I am feeling breakfasty. Something simple, probably, but that could change when I see what ingredients beckon me when I enter the kitchen.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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