My son was recently accepted to medical school, but hasn’t decided which branch of medicine he would like to practice. He’s been asked by many friends, relatives, and acquaintances, what he was going to specialize in. He’s been leaning towards becoming a primary care physician, which are also called family doctors. It’s been predicted that by 2025, there will be a need for almost thirty-six thousand more of these doctors who work in the trenches, providing general medical care in offices and clinics. These types of doctors are especially needed in rural and other underserved communities. The problem facing health care is that primary care doctors on average, make far less money than physicians who specialize in specific areas of the body, or distinct health problems.
Did you know, the number one specialty in terms of monetary compensation is for anesthesiologists? Basically, their job is to give you drugs to numb your pain, knock you out for various procedures, and then monitor your vitals until you regain consciousness. I don’t know about you, but I can get the first two things from the local drug dealer on the corner. If I could just keep him from stealing my wallet, and then convince him to watch over me until I wake up; I’d save myself a lot of money.
These days we’re seeing fewer family doctors, but more physicians in distinct specialties. How many of you remember the way it used to be? Growing up, my family had a Doctor Magalleri, who would actually make house calls. I know it’s hard to believe, but true. He would even make after-hour visits if it was an emergency. You could be so sick, the Grim Reaper would be on your front porch, patiently waiting. The doctor would squeeze by him, walk up to you, then say, “Hmmmm…. What seems to be the problem?”
You’d reply, “Doc, I’m hot one minute, and cold the next, I’m extremely thirsty, have nausea, and haven’t eaten in two days. Oh, and between bouts of consciousness, off in the distance, I’ve been seeing some pearly gates, surrounded by big white fluffy clouds. I also keep hearing the words, Go into the light. Go into the light. That’s okay though. I woke up, and found out it was just my wife.” The doctor would then take your temperature, put a stethoscope on your back, and tell you to take a big deep breath in and out. This would be followed by him looking in your ears, telling you to cough, and having you open your mouth, and say, “Ahhhhhh.” He’d then hand you a huge bottle, with pills in it the size of golf balls, and tell you to rest, and drink plenty of fluids. The visit was over after you handed him a ten-dollar bill. Within days you’d be throwing around eighty pound bales of hay, milking cows, and plowing fifty acres of farmland.
A few weeks ago, my wife broke a bone on the top of her foot after slipping on a patch of ice. She also had some pain and swelling from a possible injury to her ankle. She was referred to a specialized doctor, also known as podiatrist. Walking into the office, I was relieved to see a sign at the front desk that said “Foot and Ankle Specialists.” Medical care has become so specialized, I was worried that after my wife got her foot X-rayed and treated, I’d have to carry her to the car, and head to an ankle specialist. It’s a good thing I didn’t have to. My backs been killing me lately, and I’m not sure if I need to see a doctor of internal medicine, an orthopedic surgeon, a rheumatologist, or possibly a neurologist.
It’s crazy how medicine has become so specialized. I’m still amazed that there are proctologists, who spend their entire medical careers dealing exclusively with people’s butts. I was once at a proctologist, due to a minor, but painful affliction involving my posterior. During the exam, I said to the proctologist, “Doc, I don’t want to be rude, but I was wondering if all you ever look at is people’s backsides.” He looked at me in what seemed to be a combination of anger, outrage, and possibly a few memories that still haunted his dreams, and in a loud, shrill voice, said,
“For Heaven’s sake, man – Isn’t that enough?”
With all the specialization in medicine today; it seems that under certain circumstances, things could get extremely complicated. What if I visit my psychiatrist, for help in coping with a severe bought of depression? As I’ve learned through personal experience, today’s psychiatrists are highly skilled doctors, who spend years dealing with mental and emotional diseases. What if he asks me what the cause of my emotional distress is, and I say, “Who wouldn’t be depressed with a face so ugly, my dog refuses to go for walks with me, unless I put a paper bag on his head.” Will he reply,
“Mr. Dykie. I seem to be a little confused. Is that a mask you’re wearing in order to hide your true self, and the emotional scars you carry with you every day of your life?”
I then say, “No doctor, this is what I really look like!” After pausing to take a deep breath, clean his glasses, grab a glass of water, and ingest a handful of pills, will he say,
“Patrick, it might be best if I refer you to another medical specialist. He’s a personal friend of mine, and a leader in his field, in the restoration, reconstruction, correction, and improvement in the shape and appearance of damaged body structures.” My answer would be,
“Doc, I can’t afford a plastic surgeon. How about you just give me a few bottles of those pills you just took? Oh, I almost forgot. My wife wants to know if you could prescribe me some Viagra?”
Before I move on to another simple observation; I was wondering about something. I know it may sound a little crazy, but bear with me for a moment. What if my boss asks me to take a package over to the UPS store? What if it’s wet from drenching rain, and on the way I slip and twist my ankle? Now, imagine that I’m falling to the ground in pain, and a stranger comes to my aid. As he catches me, he inadvertently pokes me in the eye with his thumb, and his knee, forcefully impacts my kidneys. As I’m being slowly lead to a nearby bench, the extremely high decibels produced by a bus horn, seriously injure my ear drums. Within seconds, ten tons of steel send me catapulting into the air before I solidly impact, face-first on a concrete sidewalk. Laying on the ground, and surrounded by onlookers, I realize that the umbrella I was carrying is painfully lodged in an area that I won’t mention in a family oriented blog. As I’m rushed via speeding ambulance to a nearby hospital, what are my thoughts? Do I call my wife to have her contact a: ophthalmologist, nephrologist, podiatrist, plastic surgeon, maxillofacial surgeon, otolaryngologist, and a proctologist?
Or maybe, I should just call my psychiatrist. I’ll tell him to meet me at the hospital with a good proctologist, and some more of those pills.