Letter from America
Sullivan County, New York
February 23rd, 2012
What has happened to our medical profession here in the US or to yours in Ireland, Canada, and the UK? Worldwide it has become virtually impossible to find a doctor willing to treat a whole person, let alone an entire family!
Some doctor’s offices remind me of delicatessens: “Take a number and wait your turn. Someone will see you eventually”. Not necessarily the doctor who you saw last week or last month but someone. Be prepared to explain your symptoms, recite your list of meds, your litany of ailments. Tell him your name yet again. Have an earache? Oh no! This someone does not “do” ears! You will have to find someone else. Having a baby? Someone will deliver it. You may have never seen the doctor who will be pulling the child out of your womb but someone will be there to do it.
My mother was born in 1927 in the Catskill Mountains of New York State. Dr Ralph S Breakey MD brought her into this world with a whisper. She was premature, weighed in at 3lbs 2oz. She survived thanks to our merciful Lord and this good young country doctor. Fast forward 23 years to 1950. I was born in the same hospital as my mother; a full term beautiful baby girl; delivered by our same, mature and faithful family doctor. Move ahead 21 years to 1972. My daughter was born at a different hospital delivered by our now elderly but trusted family physician. Her birth was a bit complicated yet uneventful thanks to this amazing man who cared for four generations of our Dillon family.
Doc B was an old man when he delivered my baby yet I trusted him implicitly and unconditionally; the only doctor I had known in my lifetime. He was not someone, he was The One. After he passed to his eternal reward I was lucky enough to find another extraordinary doctor who would care for my family as a whole entity.
Dr Gary Garfield DO has cared for the medical needs of my entire family for the past 30 years. He knows my children inside and out. He is their medical knight in shining armor; the sentinel of their physical well-being. He has helped them grow to maturity; beautiful healthy young women both. Doc Garfield brought me through many life-threatening experiences successfully. He held our hands and guided us through the cancer and eventual death of my husband. He is our rock, our constant. We have trusted him with our lives and he has never failed us for he knows our hearts as well as our bodies. He is not someone. He too is The One.
I visited him for a minor problem last week. Going into his office I was nervous as usual. My recent serious health issues have left me with fears that only my doctor can put to rest. He can take what I perceive to be a major disaster and ease my troubled mind because he knows how I “operate”. His years of experience with me and my unique ways allow this. He makes me feel better without magic pills or potions (barring several necessary long-term prescription medications). I trust his words which are always honest and never without a flavour of hope.
As I waited in the examining room, it suddenly occurred to me that he is approximately my age and I am no spring chicken! Within the next few years I am sure he will be retiring. Uh-oh! Then what? Who will take care of me? Will I be relegated to the ranks of the someone’s? I guess so. “Take a number and sit down, Mrs Neumann, Dr Someone will see you eventually.” Yeah, I can hear it now and I will not like it one bit. He will probably be about 12 years old (or at least appear that way to an old broad like me!). I think I will “act out” a bit; give him a little taste of the real me. If I do this he might remember me, just in case I am lucky enough to pull his number on my next visit. Unlikely that!
Medicine has advanced in leaps and bounds in the past 50 years. God and I know that to be true. The human element which is the most important part of overall medical care is facing extinction. I will miss that “personal touch” when my beloved doctor retires in the not-so faraway future. Somehow I will survive (don’t I always?). Have I mentioned that I am not the easiest person in the world to deal with? No? Well I am not! Nope, not at all, not by a long shot.
Look out Doctor Someone. Ready or not here I come! That’s my truth and I’m stickin’ to it!
Talk to me, people!
Doctors? Your experiences with them? How do you manage your medical care? How do you feel about it?
I will listen to all you have to say and respond to all!
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