The Lifelessness of A Life Managing System
On my first call I was asked if I'd like to see a nurse instead of a doctor. By doing so my appointment will be weeks sooner. "Sure," I said and off I went days later. Upon arriving I noticed the system first thing. Three cubicles met me once inside the door. Mexican woman each around 30 waited inside them. I slid into cube 1 and answered a series of questions which one of them fingered into a computer before sending me into a waiting room where I was to pick a ticket with a number on it, much like one does in deli's in New York. My number called I progressed to three more cubicles manned by three more Mexican women around 30. I answered additional questions that were fingered into a computer and then once in a room with the nurse I explained my symptoms all the while noticing that she typed every word into a computer that was the only object in the room besides the furniture. She never looked up.
When she did finally look at me, no more than once or twice, she appeared frightened. I wondered why as I told her that my diet of fermented foods, garden picked veggie juices and unprocessed foods had me surprised that I suffered from reflux, an acid imbalance in the stomach. She had no idea what I was talking about. Then she became animated and engaged in our conversation as she explained that though at one time taking one type of prescription drug meant you could not take another this had changed and today I could take the most popular two drugs if I spaced them apart. I told her that I don't wish to take any drugs. With a startled, wide eyed, expression she looked at me then started typing again. I asked what she thought of the popular theory that reflux was the result of too little stomach acid. She looked at again seeming frightened and said nothing. She typed. I studied a poster on the wall that described disease of the stomach.
Moments later she handed me a piece of paper, a referral to get a test done the next day. "Oh good I thought, data." That night I read forms she gave me, "Ohhh I said to my mom (I was staying at her home for the night), I am going to be put to sleep for this procedure," and I began to worry. The next morning I arrived at the address on the form and was surprised by what followed. I was taken into a hospital like room, hooked up to an IV and a bunch of monitors and asked if I had a medical directive while being given a form to sign giving a doctor I'd never met permission to preform surgery on me if he should puncture my stomach while I was under anesthesia. I agreed to the endoscopy thinking that this was what I wanted insurance for, data. I'd choose my treatment once I had the facts.
From a hospital bed, wired up with tubes, an IV, some stuff stuck to my chest I met with several more typing Mexican women and off I went wheeled into a room that contained a doctor that said hello but never turned to me as he was busy adjusting a machine. A woman named Olive stuffed some oxygen dispensing tubing up my nose and turned to yet anther machine which she checked a couple of times. Then in the middle of my asking Olive a question everything went black. When I awoke I a doctor was showing me a picture of the inside of my stomach. Next memory I was in the car with my mom who was driving me to her house where I sat and wondered for a while how it could be that I had spent two days visiting doctors and the people who I spoke with were mainly Mexican women who typed my data into the system, a doctor that spoke at me only while I was on a sedative too high to understand him, and a nurse that I seem to have frightened by speaking about nutrition and diet. The human energy that had been spent around me in the two days was mainly applied to machines and computers and not to people. The system supports itself before those who move through it. It tracks and bills. It follows the movement of living creatures through a dead system. It gathers data and matches it to possible outcomes based on probabilities that are expressed in the form of prescriptions, tests, and procedures.
The next day seemingly magically my phone rang and a nurse I'd never heard of asked how I was doing. When I told her I felt weird and my temperature was 94 she said "well let us know if you get a high fever." Then I went on line and read that a temp of 94 is life threatening. A low temp was not listed as an alert for the procedure that I had. We hung up.
Today I wondered what I got from this experience. I got data. I know that I don't have a bunch of awful things like cancer and h-pylori. I don't know anything more about why I have the discomfort that sent me to the doctor in the first place. I have not learned anything. I don't feel cared for. In fact people hardly acknowledged me. Most were staring at machines while I was with them. I got a prescription that if I should I rely on it will reduce my body's ability to break down proteins in the future.
I can see that the system works well at maintaining itself. It's existence (if you can call it that) is important. Mine on the other hand seems secondary. I am a thing of categories for which the system offers a preprogrammed answers. When I went back to the nurse I said, "since I still don't know why I have this, can I be tested for food allergies?" She typed. She handed me a piece of paper, instructions to go to a lab and be tested for lactose intolerance. "What about nutrition?" I asked. You'll have to go to a nutritionist for that. Not once did she mention diet, or share any knowledge with me about what I came in for. I still don't know what reflux actually is. Telling me did not link up to an action: a referral, a test, a prescription. It did not serve the system. While I'm no smarter for having gone to the doc or for spending two days engaged in grueling and even life threatening tests, I have seen the inside of my stomach which was kinda cool. I think that putting a purring cat on my belly for the duration of a nap would have produced better results. I'd feel better at least in the emotional sense as a living creature it always feels good when I connect to life.