Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Are My Doctors The Medical Version of Keynesian Economists?

You will really appreciate my blogging feats once you realize that I have been blogging the last few days from a hospital bed. I even passed 25 million page views in the hospital with IVs hooked up to me and open wounds draining. Fortunately, it is not a serious problem but it may be an instructive cautious tale about dealing with the medical establishment.

I managed to develop a growth about the size of a plum between my butt and my balls. (This may be somehow genetic, the same thing happened to my brother about two years ago.)

I went to a doctor who diagnosed it as a hemorrhoid and gave me a prescription for some super powered Preparation H type stuff.  The doc talked a good game when explaining his diagnosis to me but still I wasn't sure. The growth was not in my butt. It was just outside the area. The thought crossed my mind that this guy might be a medical version of a Keynesian. But I got the prescription filled and and started to apply the cream. The growth turned from plum size to grapefruit size. I went to another doctor who said "That's no hemorrhoid that's a gigantic abscess." She said, "I hate to do this to you but you are going to have to go into the emergency room to have that drained."

So off to the emergency room I went. The first thing you learn in an emergency room is that anyone from nurses assistants to nurses to custodians may start asking you about your problem, even though they will have no role in diagnosing your ailment. You learn to quickly judge who really needs to know and who to give very quick curt answers to.

Finally, a surgeon arrived, a 30-something female, who determined that yes, indeed, the abscess needed to be drained. She stuck some needles in me and proceeded to cut. PAIN, PAIN!!

I am a pretty tough guy but this was serious pain and she just kept cutting. She was able to drain one part of the abscess, but the other part was solid and not drainable. At some point she said to me, "That was painful at the time, but I think you like it." Charmer that I am, I replied, "Oh yeah, I don't way anyone else to ever cut up my butt other than you."

At this point it was determined that I needed to be checked-in and put on heavy duty antibiotics.

In the morning, a new team of doctors visited me, and to my surprise, they told me that the records showed that I didn't want anyone to operate on me except the doctor from the previous night.

The rest of the day consisted of being hooked up to an IV with antibiotics being pumped through me and a CT scan was doon to make sure the abscess was nothing more than a surface thing  . My new "exclusive" doctor showed up that night and was ready to cut again, but the grapefruit felt as solid as the night before. So I asked, "This feels as solid as last night, why do you want to cut?" She said she just wanted to see and would stop if it looked solid. I replied, "But it is solid." I nixed the cutting job. I think this is what ended our "exclusive" relationship. I went back to blogging and never saw her again. The next morning a sonogram was conducted that confirmed the mass was solid. Nothing to cut. The antibiotic dose was increased.

Skipping a on a day or two, the mass was shirking but not really liquefying much.

Yesterday morning a doc stopped by and I said to her, "Maybe it is draining a little from the open wound I already have." Thinking that this would be a great resolution with no more cutting! She replied, "Oh you wouldn't want that to happen. You never want a drain to cross over like that."

Two hours later, another doc arrived to release me with a heavy duty dose of antibiotics.  He said, "The mass is still pretty solid, but it looks like some is draining out from the wound that is already open. That's a good thing."

This entire episode has been a circus act, with my very sore butt in center ring. The mass is shrinking slowly but it remains very difficult to sit. You do not want to know the position I am in now as I write this post.

But bottom line: From a misdiagnosis to contradictory opinions and a crazed 30-something with scalpel, I really have to think mainstream medicine is as screwed up as mainstream economics. If you ever get seriously ill, make sure you get lots of opinions because some will be wrong and somehow you are going to have to figure out for yourself what doctors makes sense. Confused Keynesian-type thinking is not limited to the economics world.


  1. Robert,

    Your experience is pretty typical, and I'm willing to bet other readers will agree.

    I tend to stay away from doctors unless I know what "problem" I want deal with. That said, my wife puts a lot of faith in them and, unfortunately, has had a number of medical issues over the last four years or so.

    Each issue that has cropped up has required multiple visits to multiple doctors, multiple tests on top of multiple tests...lost of hemming and hawing, lots of guesses, and, ultimately, lots of expense. While her problems have been legitimate (including a hernia, another hernia in the exact same place, an emergency appendectomy, a hysterectomy, etc.), the route to get to the final fix has been exhausing, and ridiculously expensive - usually interrupted with several "treatments" that accomplished nothing and, again, ran up the overall cost, all while delaying any real treatment.

    Her experiences have made me wary of the entire medical establishment.

    I hope you get feeling better soon.

  2. Take good care Robert! I had a somewhat major accident around 3 years ago that put me an emergency room needing over 140 stitches in various places around my body.

    I was ignored for 2 hours after admittance with no pain medication on a gurney in an aisle, deep breathing helped to control the pain, but I was bleeding from one particularly bad wound in my leg. (I asked for pain meds, they said they had to wait until after doing an MRI on my brain to make sure there was no damage)

    Once a doctor actually was assigned to me they finally wheeled me into a room, a nurse asked if I could stand up myself to move to the bed from the gurney. I told her the open wound on my leg(that one needed 40 stitches alone) was bleeding and that if I put weight on it I thought it would bleed profusely...she said "let's see" and it was like a waterfall of blood when I stupidly obeyed...

    The whole experience was medieval in nature. They even accidentally sewed a piece of glass up inside one of my wounds that I didn't realize was there until a week later...

    The medical industry has been in decline for some time, continue to question everything they do so you get out as well as possible.

  3. Doctors are nothing more than pill pushers these days.

  4. If you have something simple, easy to understand like a broken leg, they can handle that. But anything murky or something they are not familiar with- look out. They are flying by the seat of their pants, and typically Doctors would rather suffer a fate worse than death than to admit they don't know what is going on with a particular case. The first rule now is "pad thy bill" versus "do no harm."

  5. RW,

    I've had a similar experience with an abscess although not nearly as painful and stressful.

    The first time was right before the end of my first trimester in college. I started to feel as if I had strep-throat. When it go to the point that it was difficult to swallow solid food I caved in and went to my long-time physician. I told him my symptoms and he quickly diagnosed it as step-throat.

    I took the prescribed medicine for a few days and things continued to get worse. It got to the point where I could barely swallow my own saliva or talk so I called the physician and he saw me immediately. As soon as I opened my mouth he realized he'd made a huge mistake. I did not have strep. I had a golf ball-sized abscess on the my tonsil.

    I was sent directly to a specialist to have it drained. It was hands down the most painful procedure I've ever experienced. It was like a scene out of X-Files when the "aliens" stick a giant needle in the back of someones mouth. The relief from pain was instant, however. As an added bonus I was prescribed some serious pain meds so I got to take my finals at a later date.

    The second experience was with a sebaceous cyst (similar to an abscess) on my rear shoulder. This is a textbook example of everything wrong with the current healthcare system.

    The cyst was not painful but I wanted to remove it for vanity reasons. The doctor explained she could drain it and it would most likely just fill back up again and run risk of infection. I could have it removed but there would be a scar. I chose the scar because I could always explain it as a gun-shot or knife wound to impress girls (actually I tell them it's the result of a whale wars type expedition to fight whalers).

    I'm fortunate to work for a company that provides extremely affordable health coverage. At the time, however, I had chosen to opt out of that coverage in order to experience what others go through that do not have the benefits offered by my employer. I was able (in 2008) to find a high deductible plan for about $80/month.

    When I saw the surgeon he explained the procedure, but never went over the cost. In fact, when I asked him how much it would cost he looked at me as if I was crazy. He had no clue. I explained to him that I was on an individual plan and would be paying out of pocket. He had his assistant prepare an estimate.

    The initial estimate was staggering, roughly $3500-$5000 to have an abscess the size of a marble removed. I decided to dig a little deeper. I found out that most of the cost was to reserve an operating room and full anesthetic. I asked him if it was possible to have local anesthetic and perform the operation in his office. He agreed that was a more cost effective, and safe, option.

    The surgery was quick and relatively painless. The final cost? Roughly $500.

    Unfortunately once it became clear that Obamacare was likely to be a reality my insurance premiums started to go up drastically. From what started at $80/month in 2008 went to $120/month in 2011. Now this is still very affordable insurance, but when compared to the $15/month through my employer I chose to end my experiment.

  6. The ol' Grundle Plum. Get better!

  7. You may want to read today's marksdailyapple post

    1. And the rest of that site as well. Best of luck, Bob, sincerely hoping you don't have to avail yourself of this dangerous last resort again.

  8. I'm sorry to hear about your ordeal, Bob. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. And for examples of confused thinking, wait until you start getting the EOBs.

  9. Wow, Robert....hilarious and frightening at the same time! Thanks for sharing this sordid tale...and hope your butt gets better!

  10. Wow.

    So in the end, you will just take antibiotics and hope for the best?

    What a week!

    After your heavy duty antibiotics you may notice a week or so later that your stomach isn't right, serious gas. I had this problem, no matter what I ate, all day. Drove me and wife crazy, it was crazy! On a desperate whim, got on amazon for some probiotics, tried dr. Mercola's, it worked with in one day! Alternative medicine, who knew!? Glad I didn't go to the doctor for it, no telling what they would have done.

    I have your rear end feels better, sounds like you have some serious recovery to do. And that 30 something was conducting a science experiment on you!!

  11. I am a physician and agree completely with what you say. In some cases Medicine can be dramatic, life saving and beneficial. But in many cases it can be an expensive waste of time and even dangerous to your health. Doctors of course will confidently tell you something when they really don't have a clue. Most people think that physicians are gods and accept what they are told. They should be wary. Many doctors don't know what they are talking about and/or have a vested financial interest in performing procedure that you don't need. Doctor's diagnoses should be taken with a grain of salt. The system is best navigated with an insider who knows basic medicine and who has knowledge of who has the proper skills to benefit you. No different than getting a quote from the plumber. You certainly wouldn't take the first one without getting multiple quotes

  12. Maybe the swollen abscess on your taint is the physical manifestation of your hatred of BitCoins?

  13. Agreed. Had a Thyroid misadventure that happened just about like that, but I'm missing half my Thyroid because of it. I had "masses" on my Thyroid that they were concerned were cancer. Had an aspiration biopsy done that came back indeterminate and they recommended surgery to remove the side of the Thyroid with the odd cells. I was a little more young and naive 6 years ago so I agreed to it.

    1/2 a Thyroid later and no cancer, but the tests showed Hashimoto's antibodies, which they said was incurable and eventually my other half of Thyroid will do the same thing and fail. Except for the fact that once I did my own research on homeopathic related causal factors, two possibilities showed up: Lack of iodine, and soy products.

    I was drinking lots of soy milk, so I stopped and avoid it when I know about it. I also supplement iodine. Shocking that there is no sign of my incurable Hashimoto's and what's left of my Thyroid is normal!

    So, 6 years and $7k later, can I have half my Thyroid back please? Allopathic medicine treats the symptoms without understanding the cause. Why? Because there is financial inducement to do so. Our current system of medical "insurance" (sic) promotes overuse of unnecessary, expensive procedures because of the perception that it's going to be paid for by someone other than us. Those that don't use their insurance subsidize those that do. It is a perfect example of the impacts of subsidization and limitation of competition in the market.

    1. Yeah, Cory. I have had two cancers, a Leiomyosarcoma, external Butt version in 2004 and a breast cancer in 2006. All treated the hell out of with my first private insurance, the Leio cancer then employer sponsored health insurance, with my breast cancer.

      By now, I have just gone to the "you are what you eat," road.

      And I just feel great, 7 years after my Leio cancer and 5 years after my breast cancer. Because I refused to let them "treat my symptoms," and instead went after the cause of cancer.

      Like it seems you did.

      Which is why I am sort of glad that the ACA cancelled my individual policy. I will save almost $4K next year. And if I get in a car accident and the car medical insurance does not pay, I can sign up then.

      Well, of course, until the entire thing falls apart, haha.

  14. You need to meet some charmers from the global warming crowd....

  15. Please keep the articles coming, even though you are in the hospital, they are as good as ever.

  16. Robert Wenzel raw! Sounds like the anesthesia is still wearing off. Love it.

  17. It sounds a lot like a carbuncle that I recently had grow to the size of a ping pong ball between my right armpit and right nipple. The doctor and my alternative medicine chiropracter both insisted I needed to go in for surgical removal before the infection spread throughout my 57 year old body. No thank you! My sweet wife put a bread poultice (slice of bread soaked in very warm milk, wrapped in a paper towel) on the thing for 10-15 minutes before bedtime for several nights. I also took some leftover antibiotic pills (I rarely ever take them) from one of our kids Within a few days it was 75% less, within 2 weeks of occasional poultices it was 95% gone. And yes, I then took some probiotics to rebuild the gut flora. I can still see where it was but I am doing fine. Doctors are usually only good for some diagnosis, but natural cures rule!
    I am an Iowa farmer and read your blog several times a day. Keep up the great work!!

    1. LOL, I am picturing Robert sitting on a slice of bread soaked in milk!

  18. Just remember this is the Medical ARTS. There are some great ones, many good ones and a lot who practice mediocrity just like any profession

  19. Wishing you a speeding recovery! You'd think the doctors in San Francisco would be experts at treating butt-related maladies.

  20. Be careful what medical history you post online. With the data mining going on these days, eventually this stuff is going to be factored into the government's decision on whether to "cover" your future health care or not. When the inevitable rationing starts, woe betide those who appear to be high-risk or otherwise "not worth it".

  21. Get well soon, I hope you recover quickly.

  22. Damn Bob, that's a helluva story. Get well soon.

  23. My deepest sympathy, Bob. I, too, have almost died- TWICE- due to medical incompetence. Both stories are horrifying, and I thank God those are really the only times I've ever been seriously sick.

    Both times were the result of misdiagnosed abscesses, the last one due to the incompetent surgeon doing a routine procedure and then telling me that my pain would go away in a few days. Instead I spent 2 weeks in a hospital near death due to further incompetence.

    Put if this way- if the doctor puts in a pump to drain your abcess and the "abcess" smells like SHIT then you probably have a perforated intestine and don't let them make you lay in a hospital bed for 5 days "draining an abcess" that has you at the brink of death by sepsis.

  24. Mainstream medicine is actually in a WORSE state in medicine than Keynesianism in economics.

    Start reading Ray Peat to know what's going on. Most of what you've been told is wrong.