Saturday, January 8, 2011

Paging Dr. Blog, #19 please

So I have always been impressed with doctors.  Like, my whole life.  I remember our family physician (and friend) when I was little, and feeling there was just *something* special about that white lab coat.  The stethoscope, little knee reflex hammer, pager, and other related and important-looking accessories just added to my sense of awe.
Lately, I have wondered why I put physicians on a pedestal.  It’s not like they’ve ever actually saved my life, or done anything miraculous for me…or have they?
I see them like magicians.  The lab coat is like their cloak.  Prescriptions like potions, lab tests like magic spells.  Magic wand?  Thermometer maybe.  At least they don’t have creepy wizard beards.
It’s like they already know everything about me, just by knowing the human body.  They see inside me, by interpreting lab results and reading MRIs, X-rays, etc.  And ideally, it’s like all they want to do is fix me and make me feel better.  That’s their WHOLE JOB.  Why wouldn’t I love that?  Someone who understands how I work, someone who can pull out their prescription pad and give me something to keep me from getting pregnant, lower my cholesterol, eliminate acne, ease my anxiety, put me to sleep at night, reduce my tingling, alleviate my pain.  They see my flaws and know how to fix them. 
I even like the words that are used as part of a doctor visit.  It's health care. It's finding the appropriate treatment.  Someone who cares, and wants to treat me well/appropriately/effectively?  Sign me up!  Preferably in-network...
And when all their spells and potions don’t work, I at least respect them for trying.  It’s what I would do for a friend – anything that I could. Not saying it’s not devastatingly disappointing when they just don’t know what to do.  Haven’t they ever watched House??  Come on.
I was at a meeting the other day with a few different specialists in the room.  And what was so amazing about this meeting was not only how much they all wanted to work together to best help their patients, but how freaking smart they all are.  It’s like they knew what the other was going to say next, and with a few acronyms (like a secret magician language?) they had complete understanding.  I have never been to such a short yet completely productive meeting.  Impressive.  I smiled on the inside the whole time, just pleased to be a part of the “behind the scenes” of health care (even though I understood maybe, a third of what they were talking about).  I made a list of acronyms and words to google later.
Things learned: “DLCO” is diffusion capacity, or a measurement of the lungs ability to transfer gasses.  “ERA”s are endothilin receptor antagonists.  Endothilin is a potent vasoconstrictor, so by blocking it you have a vasodilation effect. Most of you have probably heard of another kind of vasodilator, sildenafil, – a phosphodiasterase inhibitor that increases level of cGMP, leads to vasodilation through the nitric oxide pathways, and either results in a hard on (at a higher dose and in the presence of arousal) or relief from pulmonary hypertension symptoms.  You guessed it – Viagra. 
So, anyway, hooray for doctors!  You stand up there on those pedestals, white coats blowing in the wind.  Do no harm.  Heal me.  Fix me, make me better.  And don’t take away my Xanax.

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