It started with a bout of shingles, then a post-herpetic labyrinthitis, and then I got the flu, or at least a very nasty virus within that family of viruses. Into my chest, and then my bowels, fever and chills, exhaustion, anxiety, headache. Could not take solids for four days. On the eleventh day my wife insisted I see the on call doctor at the clinic. They operate out of little rabbit warren closets these days, computer and keyboard on hand.
He was a pleasant young man, asked appropriate questions, examined my chest, looked down my throat, in my ears. He actually asked what I hoped to get from this appointment. I said probably a chest x-ray is in order, and maybe antibiotics. He smiled wanly and said “We’ll see about antibiotics after the chest x-ray.”
So we drove from there to a new building twenty miles away. We parked in front. It is a growing part of town with a big new Grocery Store next door. The entrance hall to this building, number 35, turned out to be lushly appointed, with a pharmacy to the right and a naturopathic clinic to the left. Signage was poor but we eventually figured out the imaging equipment, the x-ray department was in the basement, down one level in a small elevator.
But before getting to the elevator I looked in the naturopathic clinic. It was inviting. A sign outside asked, “Are you feeling unwell.” “Yes”, I said to myself. “Yes. Good Christ yes.”
The rest of the wording promised they’d have something that would surely make me feel better. Come in. Two women stood behind a counter. Soft lighting. Multiple shelves of jars, canisters, packages waited to satisfy my body’s deficiencies, my every need. I wanted to feel better. I wanted to see a very friendly sympathetic person who would tell me what was wrong with me, and then assure me that all I needed was a little of this potion or that. It would make me feel so much better.
In the basement the Imaging Department was also clean and new, but rather barren. The pleasant technician fetched me promptly and led me to that new age machine in another barren room. She put me through the paces: breathe deep, hold, let it out, good. And sent me back to wait. The radiologist would take a quick look; they’d call the family doctor, and then they’d tell me if I could go home or visit a pharmacy or proceed to hospital. It took only about ten minutes, and the pleasant technician called from the reception window to tell me that I could go home.
And home we went, first walking past that naturopathic clinic and its sign that beckoned: Feeling unwell?
Yes, dammit, yes.
Would you like someone telling you she knows what’s wrong and what would make it right?
Yes, dammit, yes.
I didn’t go in.
And we drove home knowing that at least a.) Nothing showed in my chest x-ray indicating imminent cardiac or respiratory failure. And b.) The doc was not going to prescribe antibiotics for what is undoubtedly a virus.
Damn evidence based medicine. Just make me feel better. Please.