Resisting progress?

Morning mist, Cambridge August 2019

At what age this starts, I’m not really sure. Perhaps it’s whatever the official retirement age happens to be. Suddenly, when you go for a doctor’s appointment, you find that you have been determined to be old.

The first sign is when they start asking whether you have had any falls recently. Even if I have, I will never acknowledge it. I am afraid of what may happen if I own up to some of the daft situations I get myself into.

Back in Washington my property was on the side of a very steep hill, which I foolishly attempted to cultivate. If my neighbours ever observed me out there, cavorting about on the hill as my feet got caught in roots and crevices, they must have thought me an alcoholic. I had some spectacular falls on that hill.

But I am very good at falling. Maybe indeed I was a cat in a previous incarnation. When I feel myself falling, I somehow manage always to land without hurting myself. Much.

I am not ready yet for social workers to come around assessing the dangers in my home. My cats would probably have to go and certainly all their paraphernalia. Which is one of the reasons I shall not confess to what happened about ten days ago.

I was merely going to plug my phone in for the night, when suddenly I did a pirouette and found myself sliding down the nearby wall and landing splat in one of the cat litter boxes. The noise was much louder than the fall warranted and the cats became collectively airborne, shooting off under whichever pieces of furniture were closest.

Grant was in another room with his leg up, having injured a knee, so he could only call out “what happened?!” Too bad if it had been serious!

But I have been falling on my butt all my life, and that recent fall was nothing to do with my age. I understand that medical people have to ask the question, but I feel slightly irritated at being treated as if I am getting a bit soft in the head. For example people have started to address me as “Dear”. Progressing from “Miss” to “M’am” was one thing. “Dear” to me implies a return to childhood. Perhaps I am too sensitive?

Maybe I am just irritated in general with the medical profession. Not them, specifically, but with the laws to which they are now forced to adhere. If you are dependent on “controlled” medications, they make you feel like a drug addict. I am baffled as to why anyone would voluntarily become dependent on oxycodone. It takes the edge off pain, but you can keep the side-effects! I have often been obliged to jump through hoops to obtain what I have a legal prescription for.

Younger people probably don’t remember what it used to be like to go to the doctor. In the “old days”, you actually got to “see” your doctor. Which is to say you saw each other. It seems to me that doctors stopped actually seeing their patients decades ago. Sometimes I wonder if they even notice who they see on any given day.

Nowadays, the doctor appears to be taking dictation, typing into a computer and sometimes searching there for answers. I realize they are doing what their particular group employer dictates. Myself, I don’t care for the computerization of medical care, but I imagine that’s all anyone has time for now.

Whatever my issues with the medical profession, I fully appreciate that I am very fortunate to have medical coverage and I do not take it for granted.

Pictures from a storm on 8th August. It was a good one!

6 thoughts on “Resisting progress?

  1. My dad was a doctor before computers. He spent hours each night dictating his patient charts. I would rather have had him more present to his family.

    My current doctor manages to type in her notes and see me at the same time. She has come to know me and my leaning towards the holistic. She didn’t even try to get me to take the osteoporosis drugs when my bone scan showed some osteopenia.

    The system that forces them to give you only 15 minutes sucks, but that’s what the insurance companies force on practitioners. Or the profit motive or somehting.

    1. Yes, I think it must be very frustrating for doctors. My PCP is Washington State seemed always so overworked I was worried about him. There has to be a better way!

  2. Carolyn, Thank you so much for sharing this. I am 68 and just now getting my first exposure to the medical system. What I am trying to resolve is something that any age person could experience but I do feel I am being treated differently because of my age. And the system is so very dysfunctional and not of service to either patient or the medical staff trying to serve them. I don’t talk much about this as someone that just wants to complain – I would so love to see a national conversation that actually spoke to this whole issue from the perspective of how to move in the direction of change. It just seems so big and so entrenched. I would be interested in your opinion of how the system in Britain functions in contrast to ours. I believe that better systems work in other countries and why not this one? I have heard really good things about the program they have in Canada. Any enlightening information you may wish to offer would be much appreciated. I enjoy your blog and read everything you post. Thank you.

  3. Carolyn, I echo all your gripes and then add some of my own. Yes, my doctor is glued to his laptop while he is talking to me, but he has to ask the same questions every time about my meds (he knows what they are, they have not changed!) and if I have been in the hospital since my last visit (that info should be on that computer he is looking at, it’s in the network!), have I had any recent falls, if I am depressed and do I have an advance directive (no, I don’t, would he like to help me with it as he is supposed to do? No.). The reason for all those repeat questions is simple, he is paid a fee for each and every one of them! Sometimes, I go back and look at the notes that he has entered about my OV and find that he says he has examined my feet because I am diabetic (I have never had my shoes off in his office in 4 years!), that I have been counseled on weight loss of 1-2 lbs. a week (my BMI is a perfect 24!) and, of course he has counseled me on depression (NEVER!) So, after all that is done, I have to scramble to insert any issues that I came to see him about in the remainder of my 15 minutes. I could go on and on, but I will spare you. I feel your frustration and I share it.

    1. It’s not good. My friend in California could write a book too. I get the feeling we older folk are just supposed to “go away”! But even when I was 40 I was dismissed in favour of the young athletic folk. “Nothing we can do”, “Live with it”. I think that’s my favourite “Live with it”. I hope they get to eat their words!!!

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