Western Medicine: All We Like Sheep (Or Cattle)
As a health blogger, I probably spend an inordinate amount of time griping and kvetching about our medical system.
But there’s a good reason for that.
Much of my bellyaching has been due to what I have felt was a lack of adequate care and attentiveness, when I was searching for help with my perimenopause symptoms. It has inspired many an article and blog post over the years. The most recent of which you can find right here.
It’s also because of the complaints I hear from other women who have had similar experiences as they too have tried (often unsuccessfully) to get adequate help for their perimenopause symptoms. Now, due to a harrowing experience I had just this past week, my kvetching is poised to reach new heights.
I’m so angry, I don’t even know where to begin.
Perhaps I should start by telling you, I had a highly unusual and violent reaction to the anesthesia Propofol, during what should have been a very ordinary and routine colonoscopy procedure. My reaction was so violent and out of the ordinary, I was transported to a local hospital for observation.
There was even chatter among the medical personnel that a CT scan might be necessary to check for neurological damage. If Propofol sounds familiar to you that is because it is the drug which killed pop star Michael Jackson in 2009. Fortunately for me, it wasn’t fatal, there was no neurological damage, and I am slowly recovering.
Now Propofol and colonoscopies don’t have a darn thing to do with perimenopause and I know it. But the medical cattle herding and conveyor belt procedure system which I and approximately 50 other patients experienced that day, transcends specific conditions, and has universal implications for us all.
Or to put it another way: Our medical system sucks.
I could have died that day. Due to the sheer volume of patients and procedures, no one had the time to connect with me as a human being. Because if they had, they would have known that I came into the clinic in a highly agitated state, due to 48 hours of not eating in preparation for the procedure.
For a hypoglycemic person like me, this is a very dangerous state to be in.
Was my low blood sugar a factor in my reaction to the Propofol? I don’t know. What I do know is that from the time I set foot in the clinic until I came home from the hospital, I never once felt I was receiving personalized care from anyone.
I was a physical body with vital signs. I was a number on a chart. I was one head of cattle among the herd as we were rolled, one after the other in rapid succession, into the procedure room and out again into the recovery area.
In fact, I was so nameless, that the EMTs who transported me to the hospital let it slip that the reason I was being taken there was because the clinic was closing at 4:30, and well, I was in the way of “closing time.”
I don’t have the answer to this problem. I wish I did. But one thing that I do have is an even more impassioned resolve to keep rattling this fence, rocking the boat, and being a general pain in the rear end (pun totally intended) of the medical community until somebody, somewhere listens.
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.