Continuing on last night’s subject, a comment by thelastfurlong – that people were increasingly using the internet to diagnose their own ailments – set me thinking about other ways in which people might respond to loss of trust in the medical profession.
If people self-diagnose, then they’ll probably self-medicate as well. There’d be a growing black market for prescription drugs (as distinct from recreational drugs), herbal remedies, and any number of ‘alternative’ medicines.
Today’s thought was that if there were black market drugs, there’d also likely be black market doctors. The black market drug dealers might themselves become ‘doctors’.
Equally, some real doctors, disenchanted with state-controlled medicine, might quit conventional medical practice for a much more lucrative and imaginitive and effective private practice. I’m not sure how legal or practical this might be in the UK, but dissatisfaction with state medicine would make for customers looking for other ways of getting medical care, and being prepared to pay for it.
I don’t have anything so exotic available to me, although I’m sure it’s out there somewhere.
Instead I pay great attention to anything that goes wrong with me.
For example, a few years ago, I discovered to my horror that my left leg and left foot were markedly less healthily pink than my right leg and right foot. It was some sort of circulation problem, and occasionally accompanied by numbness and tingling. I began to pay close attention to my legs, and how I was using them.
After a while I realised that I was quite often sitting with one leg crossed over the other in a way that often resulted in the top leg ‘going to sleep’. And there were other ways I was sitting that had similar effects. I began to stop myself sitting in these ways. I began to treat my left leg with great care and attention.
There was no immediate response, but over the next year my left leg gradually improved, and re-acquired the healthy pink colour of its companion. It’s still not completely perfect, but it’s a great improvement, all brought about by simply stopping myself from unwittingly squeezing my left leg and reducing blood flow in it.
And then I started occasionally having heart palpitations. Once again, I began paying close attention. Had there been anything I’d been doing in the hours or days before the palpitations came on? For a while I was almost resigned to visiting a doctor, but then I noticed that the heart palpitations came on whenever I aggravated an old injury in my lower left rib cage, which brought on local muscle spasms. So I then started exploring what I had done to aggravate the old injury, and found that it was greatly aggravated by sitting on a chair with my torso twisted to the right. Just like with the left leg, I now started preventing myself sitting in this manner. I soon ceased to have muscle spasms, and also the accompanying heart palpitations.
I think that if I’d been to a doctor, I’d probably now be on both leg medication and heart medication. Instead I found what the causes were simply by paying close attention to these problems, and eventually realising that both were consequences of bad posture, and thereby fixed the problem. Neither had anything to do with diet or smoking or drinking: the problem had been entirely one of posture.
And in fact no doctor would have been able to carry out either of these investigations – because they didn’t have the “inside knowledge” that I did. What doctor ever pays any attention to posture? But I could be both the patient and the doctor. I could study the problem in a way no doctor ever could.
And, as my doctor, of course I never ever give myself lectures about smoking. Because, quite simply, I’ve never found smoking to have any ill effects at all. Quite the opposite, it always has benign effects.