Finally decided to see a Dr for the first time in about 6 months, because I wanted (a) a persistent wart burnt off and (b) an ultrasound referral (for an annual State of the Vein report). I've endured the ineffectualness of WartKill for months rather than meet a new member of the medical profession. I'm sure they'll think I'm absolutely insane for (a) managing to have a subclavian vein thrombosis in the first place, (b) Defying the Decrees of the Learned Profs, and (c) making a complaint to the HCCC. Not that I'll have to say all this, but even the words 'subclavian vein thrombosis' might be enough. I reckon I probably have 'Danger Patient' (siren noises offstage) emblazoned on my forehead in fluorescent letters that are visible only to members of the medical profession. Had an odd experience with an AS dentist whom I somehow managed to engage immediately in a discussion of the causes of gingivitis. She looked worried and asked, 'Are you an investigative journalist?' I said, no, that I wasn't, and she replied that she'd once been the victim of a visiting journalist who was doing an article comparing the standards of dentistry across the country -- on the sly.
Clearly, someone who refuses the very kind offer of highly invasive surgery and who wants to debate the causes of gingivitis with dentists is barking mad, and absolutely the kind of person who would be working on the ATSIC-Titanic as it goes down.
The masseur (sorry, massage therapist) at the Health and Recreation Centre told me that the Scottish Doctor at the Bath St Medical Centre was ok because she ‘will listen to what you say and tell you the side effects of any drugs.’ Personally, I wondered if this (modestly) glowing report might be due to a case of the Wee Accent Factor (cf. Norman S of ABC Radio National’s Health Report).
But no, the Scottish Doctor was good. Good rapport, steady eye contact, seemingly quick on reading facial expressions, pleasantly no nonsense. Even some humour.
When I introduced the fatal subject of the Subclavian Vein, she paused slightly in her note-taking and said: ‘Now, that’s really interesting. How on earth did you get that?’
I was then able to tell her the highlights of the saga (being careful not to bag out the medical profession too much on first meeting). She said, ‘Well, it seems you have a wide-ranging knowledge of your disease.’ And also ‘That’s a very interesting story.’
I felt I had made her day by being an Interesting Patient Who Had Suffered a Rare Complaint. (And, yes, she did have a go at the wart.)
I told her I was working for ATSIC and probably about to lose my job. She said, ‘Will you go back to Sydney?’ I said I didn’t know, but I didn’t want to leave Alice so soon.
‘Yes,’ she said, ‘It sucks you in, doesn’t it?’
So, it turned out not to be too bad. Contra the edicts of CBT, there is great value in ‘catastrophising’, as things are rarely as bad as you think they’ll be so you feel a greater relief afterwards. And I thoroughly recommend the Scottish Doctor – an experience definitely worth having. (Probably it was just better that I went to see a woman Dr abut my own age, as much as anything else. You don’t want to strike some pompous callow youth male GP by default.) But the problems never really seemed to be at the GP level in my experience (and you can always go to another one if they are). GPs usually seem to be more ‘people’ person types and they have more time to communicate with you etc too.
It would seem a shame to leave Alice now that I have found a Scottish Doctor (not to mention a dentist, a gym, a yoga teacher and all the other trappings of ensconcement.)
The price for a standard consult was pretty amazing tho -- $55. I think it was $35 in Balmain. Just goes to show the differences for rural and remote areas, I suppose (tho I think my old GP was pretty good about trying to keep his prices down.) Too bad if you’re an Aboriginal family of 12 or something (tho I guess the AMS does a better price? They probably all go to A&E.)