Dr Know?

Doctors have to undergo 5 years of study at university and then another couple of years of on-the-job training. Before that, they had to get top grades at school. So, it’s safe to assume that they are intelligent, knowledgeable people. They have more behind them than basic common sense or a vague understanding of medical know-how.

So why is it that whenever I go to the doctor, they either confirm my suspicions or have no answer at all? Their solution to any problem is either a) have some antibiotics or b) wait and see what happens.

I’m not expecting a miracle cure for every possible ailment, I’m just expecting them to know more than I do. I mean, come on, what was all that training for?

I have had migraines since I was about 13. Until a few years ago, I would have one a year, no more than that. Then, one year, I had about 6 in pretty close succession. I was worried this was a sign of a bigger problem, so I went to see the doctor. The doctor was not worried. She was a tad puzzled, perhaps, but not exactly interested in the situation. She prescribed me some treatment for the migraines. To her credit, they did work – the first few times I took them I would have no symptoms thereafter. Their effect has worn off a little – maybe my body got used to them or something, but they are still better than nothing. I don’t know. I guess it’s just the fact that she acted like I shouldn’t have been bothered that my migraines would suddenly jump from one a year to a couple a month. It’s a reasonable thing to be concerned about, right?

About half a year ago, I noticed my left thigh was numb. Now, again, I was concerned that this was an early sign of a bigger problem, so I decided to see a fountain of medical knowledge. What did I get? Poked about by a plastic needle to determine exactly where it was numb; my leg manipulated to check movement; a brief fingering to check it wasn’t anything to do with my womb (to be fair, I would not have thought of that) and then the old ‘wait and see what happens’ treatment. My leg stayed numb so I went back. She gave me a referral to a doctor in the hospital. When I tried to make the appointment on the online system, however, my computer told me he was unavailable. I hadn’t tried to book a specific time or anything, so I can only conclude that he is, in fact, unavailable until the end of the world. When I tried again, the computer said my referral had expired. My leg is still numb.

Now we come to my latest grievance. A week ago I had my contraceptive implant replaced. Getting the old one out proved difficult and took two doctors a good 10 minutes between them. Well, they said it was about 10 minutes, I didn’t exactly think to time them. Now, I understand that that’s not their fault – tissue had grown around the old implant, which makes it more difficult. However, the day after, when the anaesthetic had worn off and I was using my arm again, I noticed that the upside of my lower arm – the less hairy bit by my wrist – was numb. At first I thought it was because of the bandage I still had on, but when I took it off, my arm stayed numb. I also noticed that when I stretched out my arm, especially when I wasn’t thinking about it, I felt a shooting pain going up through the numb area in a straight line. I also got this when I pressed on the incision they’d made to remove and replace the implant. Now, I only got a chance to see a doctor on Tuesday, when I popped into the family planning clinic – thinking that they’d probably know more about implants than the doctor who’d fitted it because she’d only recently become qualified to do so. What happened this time? The doctor poked me with an actual needle all over my arm – not even exactly where it was numb – decided I was only numb in a tiny area, which was not correct, shrugged off the shooting pain, even when she prodded the incision and I told her I could feel something shooting up my arm, and told me to ‘wait and see what happens’. It had already been a week, surely I’d already done that. Oh, she also said she would be in touch with the doctor that fitted it, which kind of made me feel like I’d been cheating on that doctor behind her back and this doctor was going to tell on me.

Ah well. Perhaps I’m doomed to have a numb leg and arm for the rest of my life. I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

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