I've just been through a palaver trying to get my medical records (specifically, copies of scans) to send to a visiting physician my physio has recommended to me. (I think I mentioned I was going down this path a few weeks back.) What started as a seemingly straighforward transaction eventually turned into something labyrinthine, as have most of my encounters with that hospital.
I was originally going to blog about the in's and out's of this in some light ironic vein, but I decided against this. I really feel like I've had it, in relation to my experience of the medical profession and that particular hospital, so I wont bore you with all the details. But as in some of my other encounters, the pathologisation element began to creep in, the suggestion that I was a nutter for wanting to have more info about my illness seemed to be hanging in the air. (On a related matter, my physio was warned by a member of the medical profession to 'be very careful; that she was dealing with a patient with an obsessive compulsive personality.') The reason I want the info is to resolve some of the questions I have about what I can and can't do with my arm, and with the help of other health professionals outside the hospital. (I have a right to my records in any case.)
This stuff never fails to make me feel as tho I'm mad, as tho I'm in a hall of mirrors with the medical profession trying to magnify some of my personality traits and responses into full-blown personality disorders (in order to avoid taking some responsibility themselves for the situation I ended up in). And despite a few eccentricities, I've never thought myself to be one of life's genuinely mad people. I don't think I have the lack of insight or self-awareness which seems to me to be the true hallmark of nuttiness. If I could write a post-doc now (which I doubt I can) the subject I 'd want to do it on the pathologisation of everyday life. (If you're interested in more of this stuff see Margaret Talbot's article 'The Bad Mother' on Munchhausen by proxy syndrome (New Yorker 9 & 16 August) and, more tangentially, k-punk's interesting theorisation of his experience of psych institutions).
I think the medical profession are fine with administering drugs and using technology. It's at the level of diagnosis that they disturb me -- I've often found their pronouncements very psychobabelish or slapdash, which I suspect relates to their (frequently) poor communication skills, not to mention an over-reliance on technology (i.e at the expense of talking to people).
A bit later in the day -- just back from the medical specialist. Physio tried to reassure me about the user-friendliness of this particular physician, describing him as 'tanned and fit, in his late 50s, with a pilot's license and able to talk to any member of the population, whether they be a miner or an educated person like yourself.' I said perhaps I could take a book to demonstrate what yoga positions I'd been doing (i.e. whether they were a risk for re-thrombosis). She said, 'Why don't you demonstrate yourself, I'm sure he'd enjoy that.' Decided to take book.
Enjoyed smirking at the prevalence of walker socks in the specialists' rooms. Specialist turned out indeed to be a man with a tan and chains. Any fear that I might be a fitness fanatic faded when he told me he regularly cycled over 250 km a week, including 85 km on Sat am. Specialist believed the cat theoryas a cause of my clot, though he said he thought I had 'overstudied' my condition, once I started reeling off the other possible causes (a fair comment). He had had a number of patients with a shoulder clot, including a bass guitarist and some cameramen. Listened sympathetically to my story, agreed with a lot of my observations and added some of his own. Pronounced me to be 'a victim of modern medicine' (bemoaned its over-reliance on technology and under-reliance on clinical examination). No need to demonstrate yoga positions, as he doesn't think that physical activity is as great a risk for thrombosis in shoulder as sitting for hours in front of a computer with poor posture.
List of practical suggestions ensued, including physio regime (when will I find time for all this?) But at last I have someone who has some practical advice to give me. It's taken me two years of (admittedly not extensive) searching to find this, and I've found it in the NT of all places.
I'm hoping to put the medical madness stuff to bed now, and post no more on the subject. It's such a mind fuck; it really does my head in. My last words on the matter: eat lots of vegetables, drink lots of water, listen to Radio National, don't sit at your desk for too long and talk to your friends.
So this should be my last little rant on the subject. Perhaps I should have called my blog 'OCD'.
Other news: am now giving letter and email writing etiquette advice to young lads in the public service. They even ring me up to seek my advice. Perhaps I should write a pocket guide re: this. I think I err on the side of formality, personally.