Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Don't Use the Yellow Mallet to Test my Reflexes

Yesterday at physical therapy, my PT asked, “How are your reflexes?”

“How would I know?” I replied.

He held up the little red triangular hammer.

I said, “So long as you don’t use the big yellow mallet, we’re okay.”

He tapped. My legs kicked.

This PT knows I trust him. He doesn’t understand why I don’t trust the rehab doc who originally sent me to him. That rehab doc used the big yellow mallet and pounded my shins so hard I thought my bones would break. I told the doc it hurt. He said, “I’m examining you,” and kept on pounding. So far as I know, there are no reflexes along the length of the fibula. There are a lot of pain receptors.

The PT said, “I wish you trusted more people around here.”

I’ve been battling the medical profession since I was 9-years-old when a doc wanted to put a rod in my back and fuse my spine.

I have no use for doctors who tell me what to do, instead of giving me information and trusting me to decide.

Briefly, when I was in college, I thought I could co-opt the medical profession from the inside. I’d seen radical college groups co-opted by being given responsible positions on campus. I imagined that the opposite could work. If I could become a doctor, I could change the profession from the inside.

I took the pre-med curriculum. I got high scores on the MCAT. I got interviewed at medical schools. And that’s where I blew it. I told the interviewers that I want to change the medical profession.

To make matters worse, I volunteered at my local Planned Parenthood. I hope the one branch where I volunteered is not typical. At this office, I was told to dump out the plastic trash can liners in the examining rooms into the dumpster, and put the liners back into the trash cans in the rooms. These are the trash cans where the used examining gloves and paper products go. I refused.. I was fired as a volunteer.

When, at the interviews, I was asked if I got a recommendation letter from my volunteering, I didn’t have one. Instead, I had a diatribe.

Why don’t I trust the medical profession? Let me count the ways.

I distrust their needles, knives, and tests.
My soul distrusts their very interest
Imagining surgery and drugs at every turn
Their licensed power to prescribe comfort
leads down roads of side-effects and loss
I distrust them in my old griefs and new pains
I distrust them with fear that has mortality at its base
I distrust them with strength born through their mistakes
Yet I am mortal and I do seek help with age’s ills
These gatekeepers are not prison guards
And I no dangerous escapee.

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