Since my people are crushed, I am crushed;
I mourn, and horror grips me.
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then is there no healing
for the wound of my people?
- Jeremiah 8:21-22
All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”
“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”
- Luke 4:22-27
The title refers to the Hippocratic Oath. You would think if it still exists, the doctors would answer their phones…
Okay, my wife and I had wellness appointments a week before Christmas. My wife complained about abdominal pain that was at the skin level. The doctor did not look at her, but he prescribed a powder, thinking that she had a fungal infection. This part was covered in the post Visiting Doctors, where I complained that doctors seem to not tell the truth.
Two days later, I looked at the area where my wife had the pain, and unlike two days before, there were little bruise marks everywhere. I immediately thought of shingles. I called the doctor, waited 20-25 minutes for someone to catch up to my phone call and I was told that they had no appointments available. I explained that I thought my wife had shingles and she had already had the shot. They said they would have to call us back. The return call was very quick. If it were not for a cancellation, we would be waiting until the New Year, but could we be there late in the afternoon?
We got there and a fire truck and ambulance were out front. A patient had a medical emergency and everything stopped until she was on her way to the hospital. I noted that the only person without a mask was the woman being carried out on a gurney. But our very late appointment was even later.
I was right. It was shingles. She was given three medicines. Her prognosis was feeling better in three days, everything gone in one week. First, it is, at the time of writing this, two weeks later and there are fresh, unexpected outbreaks of shingles. Forget my wife having enough shingles to repair a house roof, she could reshingle the Super Dome, and everyone of those things hurts worse than anything imaginable.
So, the curing medicine seemed to promote additional spreading. The steroid made my wife’s blood thinning go into the hemophiliac range. And the pain pills made her loopy, tendency of falling (fell twice), and she ran out of the pain meds while the shingles kept spreading.
But no problems, while still on the medications, my wife had a COPD attack. She gets bronchitis or pneumonia about this time every year, why we do not sing in the church cantata anymore – besides hating to drive at night to the practices. I called the doctor. I was only on hold for a few minutes, and I already knew that the doctor had no appointments available until next year. It seemed that the nurse practitioners were also booked solid. Then, they noticed that they had a cancellation – get the process now?? – and we could see one of the nurse practitioners on Friday morning.
My wife had difficulty breathing on Christmas day, Sunday. The doctor’s office was closed on Monday in celebration of Christmas. I was giving my wife nebulizer treatments every few hours, with no positive results. She was going downhill rapidly.
The person on the phone said that was the best she could do.
I got ugly, really I got honest. “I told the lady that if my wife was not in the hospital or dead, we would keep the appointment.” All she said was, “Okay, I will mark you down as having confirmed your appointment.”
Think about it. Sick for three days, going downhill steadily. The best they could do was three days later. Even then it was the third doctor’s appointment in the same office in 12 days. (wellness, sick, and sicker)
My wife and I arrived for the appointment and, of course, what is the first question that they ask?!?!?!
“Do you have any COVID symptoms?”
“I said that her appointment was for difficulty breathing. She has COPD. She does not have a fever. But the cough, breathing issues, etc. are all like COVID, but she did not test positive when I checked for that yesterday.”
The response was, “Are you a medical professional? How do we know that you did the self-test at home properly?”
My wife was given an N95 mask and after we waited nearly an hour in the waiting room, sharing our germs with everyone since the masks are not foolproof, we were brought into a room. And guess what? My wife was running a very low-grade temperature. Our room was suddenly an isolation room. She was given a COVID test in one nostril and a Flu test in another nostril. Both negative.
It was okay that the nurse practitioner was running so late. With the tests for COVID and the flu, we were now delayed enough for the pharmacy to be open. The nurse practitioner wanted her to get a chest x-ray. She had fluid in the lungs, and if her pulse Ox was below 92%, she would have been sent to the hospital to enjoy New Years there. It was 92%, right on the edge.
So, back to the pharmacy with three new prescriptions: more pain pills, more nebulizer medicine, and antibiotics. She was thinking two antibiotics, but the x-ray was negative.
Now five days later, the shingles is continuing to spread, the not “pneumonia” is no better and she is starting to have digestive issues – maybe from the added medicines.
Don’t worry about her blood thinning. She did like every good Southern girl does on New Years. She had a big plate of collard greens. For those that are on Warfarin, Coumadin, etc. you know that leafy greens cancel the effects of the medicine. Her INR should have been about 1.0, when the therapeutic range is between 2 and 3. The antibiotics would thin the blood too much. The steroids had already thinned the blood too much. But the collard greens saved the day; she was 2.5 in the middle of the right range.
But I grew up jaded. My mother worked for a group of doctors, and I would sit in the doctor’s private office with all the books on the wall until he could fit me in, which never was more than an hour wait. But I saw how they rushed to take care of people without appointments simply because they were sick, and some of those folks never paid a dime. Long before you could not see the doctor until you paid the co-pay.
Even after my wife and I moved to Pennsylvania, we started with an old Chinese doctor (still with family in Taiwan). We would still be seeing him, but he passed away. My wife had a great-grandparent who was Chinese. This doctor “adopted” my wife. She had special needs (diabetic, thyroid, COPD, etc.), but he fit her in as soon as she called. I had to wait until 3:00pm when they closed and locked their door. He then saw everyone in the waiting room, with or without an appointment. The point is that without being “adopted” like my wife was, I saw the doctor the same day I was sick.
Now if you are really sick, they do not want to even see you. You cannot get past the receptionist if you have not paid your co-pay. (Our insurance supplement pays all co-pays, and it confuses the heck out of the receptionist. She’ll stare at the screen for a while, wanting to charge us for something, but the screen says, “NET ZERO.” And it blows her mind.)
So, with a total lack of even wanting to see sick people, what do doctors really do these days? And is Hippocrates rolling over in his grave?
As Jesus said, “Physician, heal thyself!”
And today, I gave my wife a back rub with that eucalyptus rub stuff, and she’ll get yet another breathing treatment at bedtime. Maybe it really is up to us to heal ourselves.
And to our doctor’s credit, this is the first time he ever gave medication that did more harm than good. With my wife’s body where any new medication will have a side effect from another medication for a totally different disease, his record is pretty good so far.
With the digestive issues making my wife extremely dehydrated, kidney failure, shingles, and unable to breathe, we can only rely on Jesus, the Great Physician. Not a good one, or a very good one, The Great Physician.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.
prayers for both of you.
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Thank you. As of today, she is in the hospital. Three days, a colonoscopy tomorrow, and they still cannot find the GI bleed. That with the near-pneumonia and still with shingles. She is a soldier, doing the best she can and bothering the nurses less than she “bothered” me. And I hardly saw her today, dialysis and tests – that failed. And then I left when she started taking the “lemon flavored junk”. Why do it when she has not had anything but liquids for three days!
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Praying for both of you also, directly to the Great Physician.
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Back in the hospital. Three days and they cannot find the GI bleed. Colonoscopy tomorrow, but she tries to be self-sufficient knowing that the nurses are understaffed.
Continuing to pray that this storm will be lifted from the two of you, Mark, and that God’s grace, peace and strength will prevail.
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Thank you and amen to the storm passing.
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