Over the years, my family has interacted with countless medical professionals. They've come in all shapes, sizes and specialties. We've encountered them throughout the eleven surgeries of our son, the twice-weekly physical and occupational therapy sessions ?not to mention the routine doctor visits for check-ups and treatment of various illnesses.
We’ve had some real ?winners?over the years. And by ?winners?I’mtalking about those who made me wish it were still socially acceptable to challenge someone to a duel. Metaphorically, of course.
The legendary comedian George Carlin once said that somewhere out there is the world’s worst doctor ?and somebody has an appointment with him tomorrow. It might be me.
For example, I might have already mentioned the doctor who gave us our son’s initial diagnosis. I don’t even remember his real name - I just affectionately call him ?Doctor Death?.
This guy delivered the most devastating news of our lives with all the bedside manor of a Mack truck. To this day, I can see his exam room and I can remember sitting in the chair as he talked to us so callously about our beloved son.
Over the years, I’ve carried that hurt with me into most of our dealings with other physicians. Unfortunately, some of these doctors and therapists have reinforced my misgivings about the medical profession.
I wondered how they had managed to make it through years of working with parents of disabled children without someone ever telling them how awful and devastating their bedside manner was.
I feel like this month has been one of great contrasts. Maybe it’s just because it’s fall. Because of the altitude here in Colorado, it might be 80 degrees one October day, followed by snow the next. It’s not uncommon to also see this: people walking around in shorts and t-shirts with two feet of snow on the ground. Though the weather hasn’t really started to change drastically, fall is definitely in the air: it is drizzling and cold as I write this.
Two other things I’ve seen recently were also of drastic contrast. One was a link I noticed on a news Web site tucked in between stories about the economy and “Movie Star Drug Rehab Gone Bad.” The headline essentially proclaimed: “Expert believes smothering children compassionate.” In the story was a link to a YouTube video of a woman named Virginia Ironside, who was speaking on a British talk show. In an interview, she explains that she thinks “good mothers” would take a pillow and smother their suffering children. And by suffering, she primarily means children with disabilities.
Although I have never heard of Ms. Ironside, this line of thinking is nothing new. It is the same old story: a child who has a disability must invariably be suffering. According to this (faulty) logic, since a disabled child’s “quality of life” must be terrible, the compassionate thing to do is to get rid of the child. In reality, of course, it’s not only immoral, but a purely selfish thing to do.
(Here is the link to the video so you can see what is being said in the name of “compassion.” click here
When our oldest son was born two months premature, my wife and I received a crash course in medical technology.
Seventeen years later, I remember it vividly. Kyle was sequestered for a month in the ICU, a 4 pound 5 ounce boy nestled in the middle of a mass of monitors, wires and tubes. At times, it was an overwhelming situation, but how grateful we were for the miracle of modern technology that kept our son out of danger and, quite literally, alive.
There was wonder and amazement at every turn. How did they know how to measure oxygen with a little light sensor on his finger? Kyle couldn’t speak, but the doctors knew what he needed and how to help him get it. What a tremendous job they did not only helping him to survive – but thrive, too.
Kyle [and his parents] was the beneficiaries of years and years of medical research. In 1900, it wasn’t unusual for some U.S. cities to lose 30% of their newborn infants in the first year of life. Had our son been born years earlier, he likely wouldn’t have made it.
Clearly, the medical profession has made unfathomable strides in just the past few years, let alone in my own lifetime. They seem to be regularly discovering things that once were deemed impossible. Quite literally, many once blind can now see and many once deaf can now hear.
We live in an age of miracles.
Yet, despite these amazing strides, it’s important to be on the alert for groups or companies who regularly use the system to further their own agenda.
I was reading the other day that more than 60 percent of clinical studies are funded by the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. In other words, many of the results we read about are framed and written by marketers who have a chip in the game. If the results of a study are unfavorable, companies often delay – sometimes forever – the release of the information.
Dr. Drummond Rennie is deputy editor of The Journal of the American Medical Association. He recently expressed frustration with this very thing. "This is all about bypassing science,” he said. “Medicine is becoming a sort of Cloud Cuckoo Land, where doctors don't know what papers they can trust in the journals, and the public doesn't know what to believe."