Back in November, I blogged about having to get a Wellington boot cut off me with a pair of scissors in a shoe shop and, towards the end of December, I was moaning about how my foot still hurt – as did my shoulder, which was broken in an accident in 1991.
They were both still hurting quite badly a couple of weeks ago, so I went to my GP to see if I could maybe get an X-ray done at the hospital. I have no real belief in traditional Western medicine – they rely on drugs to mask the symptoms without curing the cause – but, if nothing else, I thought maybe an X-ray might help my osteopath: he could see what was inside my foot/shoulder.
But the clue to British GPs is in the name. They are General Practitioners. By-and-large, they know a little about a lot but and a lot about nothing: they are (now) highly-paid generalists not specialists; their job is to filter out all but the most serious cases.
A year or so after my 1991 accident, for maybe two-thirds of my waking hours, my shoulder was still giving me a lot of pain – it was like a knife was being shoved in my shoulder and turned. My GP said:
“That’ll last for the rest of your life. What painkillers do you want?”
Instead, I went to a high-profile Chinese doctor, knowing that Chinese medicine is not fast. It aims to cure the causes, not to mask the immediate symptoms. He gave me Die Da Wan Hua oil to rub on the shoulder. I knew, if it worked at all, it might take months or a year. Within three weeks, the pain had gone. That was twenty years ago. Until this past December, the shoulder pain recurred only mildly maybe only twice a year for a few days, usually if I put too much pressure on it; even now, it is nowhere near as bad as it was in 1991 – maybe a tenth – and only sporadically.
Inevitably, despite telling my GP a couple of weeks ago that the pain in my foot had been going on for two months and the pain in my shoulder for a month, the guy (whom I had never met before – you get whoever is free at my GP practice) pooh-poohed and refused to get me an X-ray and gave me simple painkillers, saying the painkillers would clear up the problem in “a couple of days”.
So, two weeks later, I am thinking of going to a Chinese doctor after I try some Die Da Wan Hua oil myself.
Harold Shipman can’t be the only GP to have killed patients. His only uniqueness lay in the fact he did it intentionally.
Last week, a friend told me a doctor she knows confided to her there is an unwritten rule-of-thumb (not mentioned to patients) that, unless something is obviously very seriously wrong, GPs only refer patients upwards to specialists if they come complaining three times about the same problem.
Yesterday, mad inventor John Ward (who designed and made the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards) told me a story of his long-ago youth when he was “in the engineering game a few years after leaving school…
“Three of us new lads,” he told me, “were asked to go and see the local doctor to have a ‘check up’ to see if we were ‘fit’ due the nature of the job we were going to do – lifting heavy metal and so on…
“When we got to the surgery, we found someone who looked like he was out of Last Of The Summer Wine – a very old, whiskered barnacle of a chap with a stethoscope dangling around his neck.
“He asked us: Do you want the ‘long drawn out’ check-up or the ‘short to-the-point’ one?
“We opted for the short one, natch.
“This consisted of him using what he called his CSF Method.
“Right lads, he asked us… Can you Cough? – Can you Spit? – Can you Fart?
“In his book, if you could achieve all three of these acts unaided, you were OK to proceed with your life. We said we could do all three.
“Then you can bugger off now! he told us. I have to play golf this afternoon and you’re holding me up!
“With that, he let the three of us out, lit up a fag, got in his car and went off to the golf course.”
John Ward has just been told he is “borderline diabetic” but, a week or so ago, he read in the Daily Mail (which is oddly forever printing diabetic stories) that a woman had also being told she was diabetic but plainly was not.
“Apparently it’s a common ploy,” John Ward tells me. “Starting back in the Tony Blair years, it became a scam for doctors to put folk down as diabetic because they got/still get a ‘commission’ on each one they refer. It’s not a bad little earner for them but apparently the figures suggest most people referred are not diabetic. The nurse I am seeing at the moment says that, despite my GP being ‘absolutely sure’ I am ‘borderline diabetic’, the tests say I absolutely ain’t.
“I’m now on four different pills prescribed by the doctor. I didn’t touch one type of pill prescribed for me but, interestingly, I was told that my recent blood tests confirm that these pills (the ones I am not taking) are ‘doing me good’.”