Sunday, May 14, 2006

Hanging Up My Shingles (published 5-14-2006)

Chicken Pox Part Deux? Varicella zoster is the more scientific but less entertaining name. Yes, the shingles have floored the Appalachian Irishman!

Too much dang work! Too much darn stress! These are the hammers that nailed me. It started with that little pain in the side, like a sore muscle. Nothing about which to worry, right? Wrong! Next, the malaise poured over me. “What’s this little rash on my side?” I wondered next. Then, over last weekend, the little pox belt appeared!

By the way, for you linguists, varicella, from the Latin, means "little pox." Zoster is Greek for “girdle” or “belt.” The word shingles comes from cingulum, Latin for “belt” or “girdle.”

Finally, the proud Appalachian Irishman went to his family doctor, whose shingle hangs about 30 minutes from home. Having already done the research, I agreed with the doctor’s treatment -- an antiviral medication, ibuprofen, plenty of water, and rest. In another country, I could have bypassed the doctor’s office charge, by buying the antiviral drugs directly from the pharmacy -- without prescription. Not so in the good ol’ US of A! No, I must pay the doctor, to prescribe that which I know I already need! What a country!

Anyhow, I am recovering but not completely well. But, alas, this is not the nail point to the story!

Upon arrival at the doctor’s office, promptly, for my 9:45 AM appointment, I had to take a place in line, behind one of those well-dressed, overly friendly to the medical staff, pharmaceutical sales representatives -- pill pushers, by another name. Great! I almost asked the young thing, “Are you here to see the doctor for a medical reason?” Assuming her negative answer, my next line would have been, “Well, since I’m actually sick, you shouldn’t mind if I cut in front of you!” But, being a southern gentleman, I brushed aside those thoughts. Instead, the added stress, caused my side to hurt more. I’m sure that another red streak appeared as well. Thankfully, the receptionist made pill pusher chicklet sit down to wait also.

The good doctor took my advice and prescribed the antiviral medication that I recommended -- the generic that works as well as the high dollar brand name, which he first suggested. The brand name drug was probably the one that the sweet young thing out in the lobby was pushing!

Upon leaving the examination room, what did my wandering eyes see? Yes, another pill pusher -- standing just outside the door, like a vulture awaiting its next victim! This time, it was a young man, slickly dressed in the traditional dark suit. “Hello, Dr. Cox!” he cheerfully chortled. He caught my eye, and I glared at him.

Oh, by the way, before getting in to my family physician, I tried out a foreign doctor, whose shingle is only about five minutes away. “With the price of gas these days, why not try the local guy?” I had concluded.

Well, arriving for the 8:00 AM appointment, I filled out the traditional reams of new patient paperwork. To my surprise, the receptionist started talking about payment -- before I could see the doctor! “Well, with my HSA health insurance plan, I pay doctor’s office visits, for a reduced premium,” as I told the one-brain-celled young lady. I added, “I am ready to pay the $70.00 with my HSA debt card.” Well, to my surprise, the debt card frightened to death the educationally challenged chick! She asked me to go home, get the HSA checkbook, and return, before I could be treated!

Having arrived home, with additional pain and reddening in my side from the experience, I called my regular doctor, mentioned, above, to set an appointment. I then promptly called the give us money first, before we help you, doctor’s office. I told, politely, the one brain cell babe that I didn’t like her approach. I told her that I had arranged to see a real doctor.

Fortunately, the Appalachian Irishman is from hearty stock and doesn’t need a doctor more than once a year, if that. This experience, however, illustrates the sad state of medical practice in this country. First, the lack of true market forces continues to drive up health care costs. Set aside the stinking co-pays, to which millions think they have a constitutional right, and dicker directly with doctors on office visit charges! Second, pharmaceutical companies should neither advertise nor send their minions of pill pushers, to bribe doctors into prescribing their high priced product. Third, people should put down the Twinkie and get some exercise, instead of neglecting their health and expecting the doctor to fix them. Finally, tort reform should eliminate frivolous medical lawsuits and limit settlements. Other measures, I’m sure, could be taken.

Despite the need for reform and improvement in our medical system, we must not seek salvation, by further socializing healthcare! I’ve been to Russia, and I've seen the effects of socialized medicine. We don’t need that here!

Well, it’s time to take another pill. Maybe America will do the same.

What say you?


MYSTIC said...


M. Fearghail said...

Sound (in Greek meaning "healthy") advice! Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical companies do not make money by pushing aspirin, nor do the doctors receive kickbacks!