Ask Your Doctor If…


If I hear that insidious question coming from my television set one more time, I think I’ll go insane. Or at the very least throw something fragile at the T.V. and guffaw raucously as it shatters into a million pieces.

I just can’t take it any more.

I lost all respect for the medical profession when it morphed into today’s street pushers for the all mighty pharmaceutical cartels. Although the drugs pushed by the industry may be legal, their ultimate goal is akin to that of the local crack cocaine dealer on the corner: to profit from the indoctrination of the gullible masses, betting on the likelihood that the public will get hooked and keep coming back for more. I must admit; it’s a brilliant marketing scheme.

But I don’t trust any of them. I am not one to unwittingly fall prey to the pharmaceutical delusion of the day. It seems to me we have become a nation of self-medicating hypochondriacs.

Call me crazy, but no matter how many abbreviations follow a doctor’s name, he or she will never know what is ultimately best for my body better than I do. And I’ve got the battle scars to prove it.

I’ve debated doctors on subjects ranging from “why it’s ok that I didn’t come to see you during my first trimester”, and “no, I don’t believe I need a C-section today, but thanks anyway, doc” and, “I know my self diagnosis defies all previously accepted medical rationale. But I disagree with your diagnosis based on the latest research. I took the liberty of clipping an article from the New England Journal of Medicine for your review.”

They despise that one.

So how is it that after nearly a half century of such conversations I am now told that I should eagerly and with genuine enthusiasm approach my physician in search of his god-like decree on whether or not the latest medication is ‘right’ for me? This, when I can’t even get a doctor to sit for five minutes and listen (much less respond) to a list of health questions that occurred to me on the way to his office, hastily scribbled on the back of a wrinkled bank deposit slip while idling at a stoplight?


Granted, I’m not one of those people who joined the One-Doctor-for-a-Lifetime Club. You know the type. Still seeing the same doctor who slapped them on the fanny forty years ago. No, I’ve moved around too much for that kind of a patient-doctor bond to form. Alas, the days of Dr. Kildare are long gone. Today, it’s all about the money.

I feel I am no longer treated as a patient; rather, I am treated as a human guinea pig.

So it irks me to my core to think that today’s pharmaceutical mega-demigods would have me believe that I should revere my doctor as if he is not only intimately acquainted with my personal medical history, but that he even cares about what is ‘right’ for me.

Oh, contraire, Pierre.

In my experience, a typical visit to the doctor goes something like

Upon entering the room, the doctor – without taking his eyes off the
chart – asks, “So…what brings you in to see us today?”

Get real. It’s written on that chart you are ogling. How about having the common courtesy to look me in the eyes and greet me by name as if I am a human being?

“I think I’m suffering from seasonal allergies.”

You know, I’m allergic to summer.

He smiles as he reaches for his prescription pad. I see dollar signs in his eyes. He glances at his watch. Time is money. And my 3.5 minutes is almost up.

I often wonder how many backroom kickbacks he has accepted from the cartels. True, it’s a bitterly cynical viewpoint, but one I suspect is true.

Waves of nausea hit as I blow my nose and wait for the inevitable patronizing comment or glance. Too bad there’s no way to ‘try before you buy’ a doctor’s services. I decide on the spot that if he doesn’t look me in the eye at least once before I leave, I’ll vote with my feet and never look back. I swear, this is it. I’ve had it.

He scribbles on his note pad, tears it off and hands it to me.

“This should help.” No emotion. No compassion. Still no eye contact.

I glance at the note. Sure enough, it’s the miraculous allergy drug of the day. I must have heard the commercial a zillion times in the past month.

As if that weren’t enough of an assault on my sanity, it is assumed I am stupid enough to trade my mild seasonal allergy symptoms for a litany of side effects that are far worse than the symptoms I suffer from.

The list is endless. Heartburn, diarrhea, headaches, vomiting, nausea, insomnia, runny nose, sore throat, dry mouth, skin rash, constipation, difficulty breathing and halitosis. Did you know according to its pharmaceutical ad, one drug even causes “excessive gambling”? I kid you not.

And the kicker? The exorbitant price I pay for this new drug will have me out looking for a second job while pharmaceutical executives retreat to a posh resort for a weekend of pampering.

Excuse me while I retch.

Perhaps now you can better understand my angst when I finally sit down after a day of hard work to reward myself by watching an episode of a favprote T.V. show. My couch becomes a war zone between scenes as I am assaulted by a constant barrage of blaring pharmaceutical commercials with fake smiling actors, all doing their bit to drive me over the edge by trying to sell me drugs I never knew I needed for symptoms I didn’t know I had (until now).

I’m telling you, it curls my eyebrows.

It’s also the main reason the mute button on the remote has become my best friend of late. I’m willing to bet the pharm I’ve got the fastest mute finger on the planet.

So I say, “thanks, but no thanks” to the medical charlatans of the airways. I’d rather take my chances with my runny nose and itchy, watery eyes if it’s all the same to you.

I think I’ll treat my symptoms the old fashioned way. A cotton kerchief, some vapor rub, a cup of hot chicken soup, a spoonful of honey, along with plenty of water and rest. These time-tested remedies are sure to cure almost any ailment. At least, that’s what my mother always said.

Now, if I can just get those other voices out of my head.

Of course, it would help if I’d turn off the boob tube now and again. Or, at last surrender to the burning urge to throw that china plate at the set and watch it shatter with glee the next time I hear the words…

“Ask your doctor if…”