Sunday, April 18, 2010

Can House Come to My House?

by Leann

I have rarely watched medical shows on TV over the years, mostly because I am a nurse and I knew when they were getting it wrong. That bothered me. But this year, I have added not one, but four medical shows to my list. Trauma is a great show because of the characters. But, not that realistic. Still, there is a lot of action and it keeps me glued. I watched Hawthorne last year because I like Jada Pinkett-Smith. VERY unrealistic show. Nurses diagnosing? I don't think so. And yet she was doing it week after week. I loved screaming at the TV. Nice catharsis. The newest addition is Miami Medical, another trauma show featuring numerous characters who think they're God. Now that's realistic. Sorry, docs. I was an RN for 35 years and it's true.

Why, you may ask, am I watching this stuff after I've just criticized most of the shows? Because I am looking for answers. Haven't found them from my own doctors, haven't found them from the Internet, haven't found them in books, so why not hunt for them in fiction? Lyme, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and multiple chemical sensitivies are all very real medical problems and very invisible. I have been diagnosed with all of them. Lyme is the only one where I can point to a blood test and say-yeah, got that. Unfortunately other tests to diagnose these problems are just as invisible as the diseases. More so. They don't exist.

Now we come to House, a show I tried to stay away from despite the critical acclaim. But now I am hooked. This show is probably more of a fantasy than any of the others I've mentioned. Why? Because doctors like on that show don't exist--at least in my experience. It takes way too much time to give attention to the intriguing and difficult-to-diagnose problems they deal with on House. And boy do those bunch of docs care. Even Gregory House cares, though he pretends not to. My current doctor used to care but she is just too busy now. And my issues are too complex. As for her staff? They couldn't care less. I have to be my own advocate when I deal with them and it's a good thing I know how to read prescriptions. Every time they screw up--which is pretty often--I wonder what it must be like for an eighty-year-old person to fix something they've done wrong. The calling, the voicemails never answered, and the e-mail--which the doctor's office prefers. If you can't see or hear very well, if you haven't been brought up in the techno age and know how to do e-mail, how in the heck can you get your problems solved? You can't. You sure better have a younger family member who can help you.

I am reminded of that old Crosby-Stills-and Nash song ... Teach Your Children Well. And House? If you want a messed up patient who could use your help, call me. Oh. I forgot. You don't exist.

How about you? Do you need a Dr. House to make a house call? What about your aging parents or other relatives? How well do they navigate the medical system? How well will you manage in the years to come?