Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Common Cold

In my initial effort to pursue better health and also meet my self imposed rule that every post this month has to have something to do with making resolutions, today's post is about learning.

I have always been into learning new things, ideas, and facts. But my self education has always followed the route of what struck my fancy at the time. Seldom have I done research aimed at self improvement just for the sake of self improvement. 2009 will be the year I actively seek information about how to improve the health issues I will be facing in the future.

I am finally coming to grips with the fact that my chronic liver problems and the resulting immune deficiencies that are tagging along will not go away nor will they stay in the back ground anymore. I must pay closer attention now to any sniffle, cough, or loggy head I wake up with. Minor ailments can turn ugly and take me weeks to get back to where I was before. My current battle with the little beast at the top left is an example.

Rhino virus. The Common Cold. Up until the other day, I did not know one meant the other. Rhino virus was in my mind some exotic form of the flu. As I understand it now, the flu is a different animal altogether. In my mind both were just variations of the same theme. But no, I guess not. Both are viruses but hang from different branches of the viral tree. Both can kill, but Influenza does it more often. The common cold often just opens the door for other ailments to sneak in and take you out.

Living the last 56 years as a health issue challenged dumass, when I became ill I rode it out sure I would be okay in a few days. Flu bugs and colds were only minor inconveniences. Usually I could still function even if uncomfortable while doing it. Now when they hit, I have to be cautious about how I react. Especially in those days when I begin to feel better. Relapse has become the new enemy for me. If I push too hard too soon, I face a more debilitating period of suffering then the initiating disease brought on. Now it seems breaking into a sweat can mean more than just a good work out. To say I am a tad paranoid would be an understatement.

All this bullshit with my health brings up the big question of why I am not seeking help from the massive health care infrastructure that exists all around me. Well, I don't trust the bastards. They have screwed up my bad situation with poor advice, bad medicine and huge bills. I can no longer just nod my head and say, "Sure Doc, whatever you say." Their advice has cost me more than just empty pockets. My health is up to me. As it always has been, but now I will not put my faith in any doctor without first researching and double checking everything that doctor advises me to do.

They want blood. I will ask why. They give me a script. I will ask why. They tell me the sky is blue. I will ask why. I have entrusted my health for too long to luck and the hit or miss abilities of an industry that is more about my ability to pay a bill than making me healthy. The Hippocratic Oath should be renamed the Hypocritical Oath.


Demeur said...

I was lucky enough to have an Asian Dr. who taught me more about my system than any ten doctors. There's so many simple remedies that cost little. I've had the flu maybe twice in twenty five years. A lot can be said for simple dietary changes that is unless you have some cronic underlying problem.

S.W. Anderson said...

MrMacrum, medical professionals generally are bright, well-educated and trained pro's committed to doing the best job they can, at least in my experience. That's not so say there are no bad apples in the cart. Nor is it to suggest you won't sometimes run into a good apple having a bad day or bad spell.

You've arrived at a very intelligent conclusion: complete passivity isn't the best approach to being a health care consumer. You're right to ask questions and expect straight, sensible answers. You're smart, if things just don't feel or sound right, to get a second opinion, do some research on your own, etc.

Just be really, really skeptical about little-known remedies recommended by friends, magazine articles and the wide world of things at the dietary supplements store that can get you into trouble.

Some doctors who know their stuff very well leave much to be desired when it comes to interacting with patients. Same goes for some who don't know their stuff all that well. If you ask questions and get a brushoff or hostile response, find yourself someone willing to satisfy that responsibility — someone you can be comfortable with and have confidence in.

The thing about that colorful rhinovirus is how it mutates as it moves through a community. You catch the cold, suffer and survive with antibodies built up against that nasty sucker. But after it's made its way through a few hundred to a few thousand people, it can swing back around in a mutated form your shiny new antibodies aren't formulated to deal with — and you're screwed as it gets you again.

Therein lies the reason attempts to stamp the rhinovirus out through immunization almost never work. It's a constantly moving, constantly changing target.

Same thing, BTW, for the flu. Public health people use sophisticated computer models and studies trying to predict the two or three most likely strains to show up in a given year. They then formulate the immunization based on their findings. Sometimes they get it right, or close enough. Other times, blotto.

That's two or three strains out of several hundred possibilities at any given time. So, you can see what they're up against.

MRMacrum said...

Demeur - I do have a chronic problem that has been mishandled. By all concerned, including me. Even with the problem which cropped up 30 years ago, I have been blessed with good health. It is only in the past five years that I have begun to have problems.

S.W. Anderson - I know there are good health care pros out there. I have actually had the pleasure and good fortune to have run into a few over the years. But it seems that the system has become so driven by money and obstacles built into the system, that many of the good ones are either leaving or they have been sucked into the gristmill driven by profit.

I watched my general practicioner go from being a doctor who cared to one who now treats his patients like cattle and processes as many as possible in any given day. He has to because in order to stay in business, he needs quantity of patients which definitely shorts the quality he used to deliver.

The system is all frigged up. I fault not just the medical side, but the insurance losers and government for allowing it to get to this point.

The AMA in my opinion has policies that run counter to providing good health care. Rules set up that insist on unneeded tests, force patients to see a doctor when seeing a nurse might be all they need. We do not have the best health care system in the World. We have the most expensive. What does that say about it?

Anonymous said...

You're preaching to the choir buddy. My doctor ran off (was it something I said) and no one can believe that I haven't gotten out the phone book, hysterically looking for another one. meh. I'd rather die of my own problems than have a doctor kill me.


El Cerdo Ignatius said...

I always question my doctors critically when they tell me something or recommend something. My GP is a bland, borderline incompetent, but I luckily also see an internist annually, a tough, no-nonsense, smart-as-hell woman. There is a huge range of abilities out there among doctors, and if you can find a decent one, you latch on for dear life.

But your broader point - that we alone are responsible for our health and for keeping ourselves informed and up-to-date - is right on the mark.

Randal Graves said...

I'd question my doctors if I ever went to them.

I hope your rhino goes away.

Oh, what the hell, I'll be serious for a moment. There are good suggestions from everyone here. I think the biggest problem is that people don't question. Look, you're paying for it, demand to know what the hell is going on.

S.W. Anderson said...

MrMacrum wrote: "We do not have the best health care system in the World. We have the most expensive."

If the health care system's mission is to provide the best possible care to the greatest possible number of people, you hit the nail squarely on the head.

Maddeningly and tragically, our system has degenerated into one where those who can afford the best get the best, and the rest learn your mileage may vary.

And as you say, a chief culprit is the insinuation of profit-motivated businesses into what should be, first and foremost, a public service.

Even that wouldn't be quite so bad if American businesses and those who own and manage them weren't totally dedicated to maximizing profit.

The difference between making a fair, decent or sustaining profit and maximum profit can come down to telling a dying person that the one procedure or medication that might save that person's life is considered "experimental," and therefore is not covered.

Gary ("Old Dude") said...

your correct in asking questions and getting clarified to your liking. us elderly KNOW job 1, is taking care of ourselves, we aint as young as we once were, and things like tussles with the rhino, aren't as easily ignored. but eat right, get a decent amount of sleep, and do one's best not to get stessed, and just common sense sees us through these trials.