|My medical system horror story
||[Aug. 27th, 2010|12:13 pm]
Even as a relatively healthy young adult, I've had many horror stories in my brushes with the medical system during my few years in America. One of them is ongoing, so I thought I'd talk about a different one from a few years ago.
In late 2007 I began experiencing numbness in my arms, then my feet and legs. At first it was only while sleeping, later even while sitting. I quickly narrowed it down — if I stopped weight training the numbness gradually went away. Regular readers will know how much I rely on weight training as a source of mental strength (yes, mental strength), so I wanted to do everything I could to find a remedy before I could consider quitting.
It turned out to be harder than I thought. I got bounced around between doctors, five in all, four of them specialists, dozens of tests over a period of six months. Blood tests, MRIs, neurological tests, you name it. The latter involved pricking me with needles to deliver shocks to my nerves to see how far it made my arms and legs jump. Needless to say, quite painful. Those tests were supposed to detect if I had any nerve impingements, among other things.
The whole thing must have cost thousands of dollars in taxpayer money. At the end of it all — nothing. That's right, no diagnosis.
I was about to give up, when in a last-gasp attempt I decided to ask the Interwebs. Specifically, gymrats.
Someone posted the answer in seven minutes.
They said it was nerve impingment and that it was occuring because I wasn't stretching my neck muscles properly before lifting. That turned out to be entirely correct, but unfortunately I didn't have a chance to find that out until I could try it a few days later. And since livejournal's search (as well as robots.txt) is horrendous, I haven't been able to find that post. Whoever that person was, they have my eternal gratitude.
Apparently a common problem, with such a trivial remedy. (After I started doing proper neck stretches the numbness hasn't recurred.) As for the medical system.. to my lay eyes in many ways it seems set up to maximize the waste of resources.
It appears to me that if there were a wiki where doctors as well as patients could pool their collective case reports/personal experiences, and if doctors walked around with an iPad, and querying this knowledgebase became integrated into the diagnostic process, the time and money spent on diagnosis would be cut dramatically, and the accuracy would improve as well.
I have many doctor friends/acquantances, and most of them complain about patients self-diagnosing themselves on the Internet. Well guess what, if doctors weren't so universally IT-phobic then maybe patients wouldn't feel the need to do that. Technology is the solution, not the problem!
There are other things that I think seriously wrong with the medical system in this country, but those will have to wait for future posts.