DIY Medicine

Growing up, even into my 20s and 30s, I remember that seeing a doctor was a relatively simple procedure. You would call his (doctors were still mostly male then) office, and a pleasant woman, known as a receptionist, would sign you up for an appointment. The doctor might spend a good hour with you, listening to your heart, tapping your knee (an obscure practice that seems to have gone out of favor) and listening to your complaints.

Many of us might still carry the memory of the 1960s medical TV shows, like Dr. Kildare, the compassionate and knowledgeable doctor who always had time for his patients. But that’s not the way medicine works anymore. I still believe most doctors are compassionate and knowledgeable. But the infrastructure around them has changed. Instead of talking to a reliable and caring receptionist, we get a phone tree that must be navigated in a sometimes futile effort to connect with our doctors.

I recently had the opportunity to wander into this maze of health care. Only persistence helped me find my way out. After I directly received the results of an MRI from the lab technician, and thus were not massaged by the doctor into something more reassuring or user friendly, I Googled the medical phrase and came up with a scary assessment.

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