Health care that new old argument that has been dogging the debates all year has become a topic of great concern in our household. We both have health care insurance and are fairly regular in our use of it for check ups and medical needs. But this year we have learned anew that old saw, the doctor is only human.
Around four months ago my wife, T, began feeling a consistent pain in her right side. Since it was also accompanied by an upset stomach and a soreness in her jaw, we felt that we needed to get it looked at immediately. So we went to the ER were she was admitted and had her blood tested and then was examined. The doctor prescribed a sleeping pill and a medication for calming her upset stomach. Two nights later, after a daytime visit to her personal physician, we found ourselves back at the ER. Another attack of pain so severe we knew she needed help. This time the ER doctor, after reviewing her CAT Scan, prescribed more stomach pain medicine and told her that she needed to see her personal doctor about it.
Her doctor, apparently after reviewing the information, referred her to a gastro-entrologist and away we went. Within a week, T, was in his surgery and being scoped, as they say, from top to bottom. The not so funny thing is that the scoping found no anomalies except for a long colon, a possible growth that turned out to be benign. Whew! we were relieved but then puzzled as T’s pain persisted and indeed the one in her jaw increased. So in the midst of worrying about why her side pain didn’t go away, her dentist diagnosed an infected wisdom tooth that needed to be removed. At this point, now some three months into it, T was only able to sleep via the sleeping pills.
Enter the Google Health Care plan. In February, I decided that it was time to research this problem myself. I know, what the hell had I been thinking? Trust the doctors? First, using a general search, I looked for info about her symptoms. Almost immediately, I was pointed to the gall bladder or liver as being the source of her side pain. The next step was a trip back to the doctor where I insisted on being in the room for the exam. T told me that this was the first time he had actually performed a physical examination of the area in pain. His immediate referral for an ultrasound exam was further confirmation that we were onto something. That exam revealed the presence of gall stones, sub-centimeter sized echo-densities. We then were referred by her doctor to a surgeon.
That’s when we discovered that her insurance, a PPO, wasn’t accepted by the surgeon. Meanwhile, I was back to the net and ordering a month’s supply of the GallCleanse formula. T continued to work and struggle with the pain, and use the sleeping pills. Last Monday, she started the cleanse. Tuesday afternoon she had a severe attack of abdomen pain, her face became flushed and we rushed her to the ER again. The pain subsided slightly during the five hours we waited for her to be examined but at the end of the exam we had another referral to see a surgeon. One who was on her insurance plan. Friday, we met with him and after a discussion that included his casual and dismissive look at the cleanse medicine, T decided to have the surgery that afternoon. I was convinced that the attack she had indicated that the cleanse had started immediately to work and that she had simply but painfully passed a stone. The surgeon’s assurance that dissolving the stones might lead to blockage convinced T to have the surgery.
We will never know if the cleanse would have continued to work as promised. She was in pain for four months. Her personal doctor had treated her as though she had an upset stomach. If we hadn’t gone to the Internet and Googled for our information, who knows, maybe his next guess would have been cancer, remove her stomach, ??? We do know this, without the use of the Google search we would have spent (the original colon scope, tests, and exams cost $4ooo above our insurance coverage) more time and probably money waiting for the doctor to actually figure it out.
Could this have been a case of an incompetent doctor, I don’t know? I subscribe to the theory that the doctor too often hears what he or she wants to hear and quite often turns out to be just a human who makes mistakes. I do know that in this day and age, if you don’t do your own research, you may be being fairly incompetent, too.