So my GP of the last 30 years has decided – without any consultation with me, mind – to retire.
This is bad news, partly because I have to break in a new GP, and explain the subtle nuances of my diet plan – such as the fact that the CPD regime for solicitors requires the consumption of a certain amount of red wine (you’d be surprised at how sceptical the medical profession can be about this).
The bigger problem, however, is it is obvious doctors have some strange condition on their super funds, to the effect they can’t access them unless they have sent all their patients through a certain number of invasive medical procedures. So my doctor has gone through his list and decided there are a number of unpleasant tests I had to endure before we part company.
Naturally, one of these was a prostate biopsy – when you are a male of over a certain age, doctors just love these. This procedure involves inserting medical instruments into a place that, to put it delicately, evolution has patiently designed, over millions of years, to send things in the other direction. The good news is that this happens while you are asleep and on powerful painkillers; the bad news is that eventually you wake up.
This procedure is necessary because evolution has also put a fair amount of effort into ensuring the prostate has the same overall operational record as the Collins Class submarines, while being far more lethal. Putting a high-maintenance, generally unreliable organ in such a hard to get to place is an indication that evolution, in addition to being able to patiently design complex organs, can be a real jerk.
My doctor also found out I had never had a PET scan, and reacted as if I might die in the next 30 seconds if he didn’t sign me up right away. A PET scan is not as fun as it sounds – I presumed I would have to bring in a dog or a goldfish, they’d scan it and tell me it was fine, and away we go; no such luck.
“Don’t worry!” said one helpful medical person,”It is pretty much the same as an MRI!” That was about as comforting as saying, “Don’t worry! It’s pretty much the same as a tax audit!” because I have had an MRI before.
I know an MRI is basically being shoved into a tube with the same overall diameter as a thickshake straw, while wearing a clamp on your face that Hannibal Lecter would find familiar, and listening to the sound of a dentist’s drill played through the speaker stack from an AC/DC concert. At least, that’s how I remember it – and the twist with a PET scan is they also inject you with radioactive material.
That’s right; the same medical profession that tells you bacon is bad for you, and tells you not to have more than two glasses of wine a day, and also worries about radioactive waste from a potential nuclear power station entering the water supply, injects you with radioactive material. Anyone familiar with science fiction knows no good can come of this.
Again, the helpful people at the hospital assure you the process is completely harmless, but their credibility is undermined somewhat in two ways.
First, they get you to sign a form that warns you of potential side effects, which is standard operating procedure for the medical profession, for everything from tongue-depressor use to having one of Elon Musk’s brain implants inserted so you can tweet just by thinking about it.
The worst bit is these side effects are never good news. You never get given a form that warns you the side effects may include ‘spontaneous development of six-pack abs’ or ‘regularly being mistaken for Brad Pitt’. No, side effects lists always look something like this:
“Warning: side effects may include dizziness, runny nose, headaches, swollen ears, eyelid cramps, delusions of grandeur, extroversion, introversion, perversion, beta version, hair growing on the soles of your feet, one leg becoming two inches shorter than the other, or a fondness for watching reality TV.”
The second way in which hospital staff undermine their own credibility on the apparent safety of having radioactive material injected into your organs is the way they treat you after it happens. As soon as it is injected the leap backwards about four feet – smiling as reassuringly as a person can when they are trying to get as far away from you as possible – and tell you not to leave the room unless the hospital catches fire (and even then, it has to be a pretty serious fire).
Again, they reassure you (from behind the door) the procedure is perfectly harmless, but that you can’t go near pregnant women for 48 hours. One doctor noted brightly to me that if I now went anywhere near a Geiger counter, I’d set it off; now there’s a comforting thought!
The good news is my results came back with the right number of PETs, or whatever the criteria is, and so I am fine, for the time being. The bad news is I have not developed any super powers, which the comics I read in my youth had lead me to believe was a virtual certainty after exposure to radiation, unless of course you count the ability to set off a Geiger counter as a superpower. Somehow, though, I can’t see Marvel making a blockbuster movie around the adventures of Geiger-counter Man.1
Now I can begin my search for a new GP who has the specific skills and experience to keep me on the good health regime I have adopted. Does anyone know a GP who owns a winery?
© Shane Budden 2023
1 Although if they do, everybody remember that I thought of it first.