Doctor’s Advice

Hmmm- “doctor’s advice and how much I respect it” might possibly be a more appropriate title for this post.

I went to the doctor the other day because although I had no particular ailment at the time, I am a person of ‘advancing years’ and have, in the view of some, been a bit naughty by not attending the surgery religiously for my annual check-up. I’m the sort of person who takes note of how I feel and generally try to self-manage times of less than peak health. I think I eat properly and don’t have too many obviously unhealthy habits, and I do moderate exercise on a regular basis. In short I think I’m in reasonably good shape, but it’s shape that prompted this post.

As is the case in many surgeries around New Zealand and more particularly in areas away from the major cities we seldom have a full permanent staff and can expect to be scheduled to see a locum unless we specify the (or a) resident doctor, and I think this is a bit of an exercise in futility if I want an appointment when I want it! What I mean is that if we all request an appointment with the resident then he or she will be swamped and there’s little likelihood I’ll get in much before Christmas!!! If I’m not displaying worrying symptoms there’s not much chance I’ll get bumped up the list (and of course the locum will sit in his or her office and read a book!) SO- I agreed to see a locum.

Now it may be that whether the doctor I saw was a locum or not may be beside the point but it just adds a wee bit of grist to the moan-mill. To my point (“Ah! Finally!” you might say.)

I was called in to the consulting room by someone I believe shouldn’t be in the business of giving health advice. He was HUGE! I don’t mean he was seven feet tall and built like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but he was huge. His girth would have been more than twice mine despite the fact he was slightly shorter. He rather more waddled than walked. He was not just obese, he was grossly so.

Because I believe people should practice what they preach I think this man had little if any right to offer health advice. He might have knowledge but if I put my mind and time to it I could also get knowledge simply by browsing the World Wide Web!

He started by resuming his seat at his desk which was dominated by his big-monitor computer. I had attended for a general check-up but after tapping and reading the screen for a while the only investigation he did was to take my blood pressure. Having done this he gave me a bit of a treatise on ‘the silent killer’ and then got back to his computer. He didn’t take my pulse, which I expected would be part of the normal ‘check up’, neither did he put me on the scales, ask me about diet, exercise, or even symptoms of issues that might be about. He then took blood and tapped away on the template on the screen itemising the checks that the lab would do all the while telling me what he was tick-boxing and that when I returned next time he would “talk to me about the results”. That’s OK, but it sort of assumes that he had identified something in his ‘examination by proximity’ which I would have thought he might have discussed at the time.

So after less than 15 minutes of a scheduled 30 minute consultation he sent me on my way. I paid the $17 consultation fee and went on my way completely underwhelmed by what had taken place. It seems to be the case that examination by ‘sitting at a computer’ is the norm and it is probably not surprising that a person of this man’s physical state has a place as a doctor, but I will never feel comfortable with any advice I get from him. I’ll probably follow it but I will recognise it will be the standard medical advice and I’ll feel a snigger, a snort or a shrug of the shoulders not too deep below the surface when he delivers advice that it would appear he neglects to follow himself.

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