Published on March 26th, 2012 | by Guest Contributor0
James Howard Kunstler: And did I mention our health-care system is fucked, too?
So, last Friday I think my doctor fired me.
I came in for a routine checkup of my cholesterol levels because about six months ago I stopped taking the 40 milligrams of Crestor Dr. X prescribed and he was concerned about where my numbers were going. (See last week’s post, “James Howard Kunstler: All is swindle, from Goldman to Statins.)
I kicked off the conversation, which took place, of course, in a windowless, closet-like, steel-and-linoleum-lined examination room that must be designed to induce maximum dread saturation in the human psyche. I told Dr. X that I had embarked on a high-fat, butter-meat-cheese-crème-fraîche diet and ditched the ultra-low-fat, grains-and-tofu program that I followed for about five years.
Dr. X paused dramatically after I finished and then stated bloodlessly that my cholesterol had gone up from 220 to 260 since my previous blood test three months earlier. Yes, well… I told him I had started eating shitloads of meat, butter, and eggs three days before my latest blood test. Chagrin transformed his face like a mask.
I then explained that I thought the combination of statin drugs and a low-fat, high carb diet had damaged my system. The mask of chagrin on Dr. X’s face was transforming slowly into something you might see in the Rite-Aid around Halloween. Apparently he thought I was blaming him, since he had put me on the drug and approved of the Ornish/Essylsten diet I’d put myself on.
In point of fact, blame was not on my agenda. I was simply trying to describe my version of reality in the interest of improving my health. For about a year, I’d developed a range of alarming symptoms: peripheral neuropathy (tingling and numbness in my hands and feet), striking memory loss, poor balance, atrophying muscles, intractable insomnia and I attributed it to side effects of Crestor (yes, go fuck yourself Astra Zenica, makers of Crestor), combined with a lack of vital nutrients that my body needed to make routine repairs for five years.
Then I commenced a discussion about a possible Vitamin B-12 deficiency, since this is a not unusual outcome for someone who gets insufficient nutrition from animal-based foods. Dr. X said they could run a simple blood test for it. He had now turned his attention completely to the screen of the laptop computer that had become a prosthetic extension of his persona. I suspected he had lost interest in the conversation.
I wondered out loud if the results of the test might be skewed, since I had also recently put myself on a dose of B-12 sub-lingual supplements. This is where Dr. X lost it. He stood up abruptly and said, “I’m not a boutique physician! Other people are waiting out there to see me!” Then he pointed at me and said, “You are going to die of a heart attack or a stroke!” That was possible, I thought, but then something was going to get Dr. X, too, eventually, unless he managed to funnel himself into Ray Kurzweil’s cyborg singularity rapture.
I thought further: my doctor is a most intemperate fellow.
Then I trotted obediently down the hall to the phlebotomy parlor (another windowless closet), and gave more blood for the B-12 test. Dr. X appeared briefly in the doorway and handed me a slip of paper with the name of an osteopath-naturopath in town who might better entertain my particular health concerns.
One thing I didn’t mention to Dr. X during this incident – nor did I mention it in last week’s blog – was the fact that my girlfriend (a professional librarian and kick-ass researcher) had discovered a website that disclosed payments from pharmaceutical companies to doctors.
Dr. X, evidently, had scored about $200,000 total over a recent 18-month period, including about 20-K from Astra Zenica. I didn’t bring it up with Dr X in the exam room because I did not want to turn the office visit into an adversarial event, and there’s no question he would have gone batshit. But there you have it, now, like so much meat flopped out in the table.
This personal anecdote is only a tiny sample of the quackery and corruption at large in this segment of society. Of course it extends into the many branches of the nutritional sector, too, including the matrix of rackets in the food, farming, and policy realms that have left the American public in a daze of metabolic syndrome from eating a diet based almost entirely on processed corn byproducts.
I’m five foot nine and a half and I weighed in on Friday at 164.5 After about two weeks back on butter-meat-cheese-crème-fraîche, my hands are still tingling. They seem even worse today after the first pretty good night’s sleep I’ve gotten in months. That kind of damage is sometimes permanent. I’ll have a pity-party for myself and then maybe I’ll get on with my day. But I’ll let you know how I’m doing over time. And if you know of a good physician in the Washington-Warren-Saratoga County region of New York, drop me a line (jhkunstler at mac.com).
Meanwhile, please be assured that I will get back to commentary on national and international issues. I will say it’s ironic that the big event of the week is the Supreme Court’s review of the Obama Health Care Reform Act, a cherry on one of the biggest clusterfuck cakes that the world ever baked.
Mark my words: health care in the USA is unreformable. Like a lot of other things in Racket Nation, it simply has to implode to transform itself into something better.