The Perils Of Heroic Health Care

Health care is great. Great health care is great. Some of it is.. not-so-great.

I’m not talking about the type that is necessary, usual, or emergency. But do you really know when there is a difference? Are you getting the right information, at the right time, from the right people? Does it matter if you are?

Boyhood at the Pediatrician

Used to be, in my recollection as a wary youngster who occasionally visited that scary guy in the white jacket, that the point of going to the doctor was to get taken care of, and get the feeling of being taken care of.

The Trusted Triumvirate

I want my doctors to be like my gods, network administrators, or ice-cream vendors – they should all instill the utmost confidence that whatever mysterious things they are doing are causing the World to be a better place, for you, for me. Same goes for my cats’ doctors – you know, their vets.

In Reality..

It doesn’t seem like that anymore. I goto a general care doctor who awkwardly suggests that there might be something wrong with my heart. But it is the sort of thing we would really not worry about if we were not sitting here with good health insurance on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. “Whatever!”, I think to myself. Maybe I should just try Happy Hour instead of the echo-cardiogram. The visit checked all sorts of things, and then sent me on my way with a bucket of mild anxiety slung over my shoulder, wondering whether I should get a most-likely-unnecessary heart test. It left me straddling annoyance and unconfidence.

Heroic health care. Going beyond necessity. Straddling a strange sort of something.

I goto a dentist who, after jabbing quite furiously with sharp metal tools for nearly an hour, producing all manner of “bleeding” in my gums, then suggests a litany of behavioral and lifestyle changes. True, I am getting older and may need more oral care. True, I should probably cut down on the sugared coffee and cut UP on the brushing time. The fact that I’m a mouth-breather likely does not help matters – eternal dry-mouth, you know. But there’s very simply a limit to the number of changes I can make in my life in order to improve my dental health (or any of my health, for that matter). If the worst that can happen is that I will eventually wear false teeth.. well, that’s actually not too terrible a thing! Used to be that lots of people wore them when they got old, right? Not ideal, but just not terrible. False teeth give you character.

And.. true, the lifestyle changes suggested are also all good for me in other ways. Maybe it was the “manner” of the dentist, which I found very off-putting, which caused some of my bristly reaction to his heroic health care. But I have to wonder why this is the first dentist I’ve ever been to where an ordinary cleaning feels like a deep-mining expedition.

The Vet

Enough with humanity. I took my cat(s) to the vet.

Now, the hard thing about providing health care for a cat is that you can’t asked the d*rned animal how she feels. So if you think something may be wrong you have to draw blood, perform ultrasounds, do x-rays, and often give the poor cat some anesthesia to keep it calm during the poking and prodding. You perform all these tests in order to find things that might be found by simple observation and conversation if the cat were a human. And then, after your very clinical, data-driven diagnosis (which always ends up being diabetes….) you prescribe a treatment plan. Now, diabetes is a bad example, because that is actually easily treatable, once you get the gumption for it, since you just stick the medication in with a needle.

But, may the kitty-gods help you if your cat has a problem that requires drops, ointments or pills. Well, again – pills are not so bad once you get used to how your cat wrestles. But I have still never successfully administered oral or aural drops to a cat. She just won’t have it. And I have to wonder how beneficial it was, after all, to spend $600 to find out that really the appropriate treatment for my cat is to wipe her d*rned ears out with a cotton ball occasionally. And then let her have itchy ears some of the time.

She’s a happy-healthy cat, as I have been told by a professional more than once in her happy-healthy life.

And there’s, very simply, just a limit to what you can do about things sometimes.

And this is a problem.. how?!?

You may think I am crazy. I’m saying we should cut corners in health care.

Yes. I am saying we should cut corners in health care.

But here’s the trick. Find the right corners to cut. If you don’t do that, you’re not helping matters. And finding the right corners is far far far tougher than most folks would have you think. D*rned near impossible, unless you’re quite determined. That’s why we all go for the heroic form of health care, where every problem is worth solving.


You wouldn’t have so many problems, if you didn’t have so many solutions.

Anyway – it’s just a blog. These are just my opinions. You like ’em, then take ’em to heart. Else, do what you do like.


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