Overscreened

I go to the doctor a couple weeks ago. No big deal, just the annual checkup and thyroid test (a test I’ve been getting since 1980). My regular doctor has somehow disappeared, I can’t seem to find out what the story is, so I go to the doc who’s taking her appointments.

A couple of odd things: (1) It was possible to get an appointment almost immediately. That alone doesn’t indicate a problem, but it does make me wonder, since other docs I called had a waiting period of as much as 8 weeks. (Also ridiculous, but another subject for another day.) (2) He calls when I was already out the door for the day to ask if I could get there 20 minutes early. Way too late to get a call like that; also makes me wonder.

He seems decent enough. He’s pushing a few more blood tests, as there are other things that can interfere with thyroid levels. OK, no problem. Then he’s pushing a colonoscopy. No. I’m over 50, “guidelines” recommend the procedure every 10 years for someone over 50. No. I really need to get this done. No. Why not? With no history of colon cancer anywhere in my family, and no signs that maybe this is a problem, no. Not gonna happen. He’s so insistent, I wonder what he gets out of doing this expensive, invasive, time-consuming, and unnecessary test.

This reminds me of the time my mom was diagnosed with cancer based on a single CA-125 test. From what I’ve read (and I read a LOT while this was going on), one CA-125 is about as predictive as throwing dice, with false positive and false negative rates running about 25%. Now, a series of CA-125s, done over a few months, that’s a much better set of tests. If it keeps coming out high, you might have something; on the other hand, if a second test drops, you probably don’t have something. It took another doc to do a second test. Anyway, the first docs insisted Mom had cancer, to the point that they said she had at most 6 months (3 years later, she’s still here), and should get her affairs in order. A biopsy came back negative; the docs said maybe they didn’t hit the right spot, so a second biopsy was ordered. #2 came back negative. I asked the docs whether they were open to the possibility that it might not be cancer; they said no, they had lots of experience, I didn’t, and I shouldn’t question them. Uh huh. Fast forward a bit, Mom had the mass removed, the pathology report (of which I read every word and looked up what I didn’t understand) came back 100% negative, and the docs still couldn’t admit she didn’t have cancer. So much for expertise.

Back to my story. Doc persuades me to do the mail-in test; it’s not invasive, a lot less expensive and time-consuming, and, while I believe it to be unnecessary, it’s not going to harm anything. Doc says, if they find blood in it, I have to have the colonoscopy anyway, so I might as well do the colonoscopy. I said I prefer to jump off bridges when I get to them, so, not gonna happen.

Other tests were back in a couple days. I get a letter a week later, saying TSH level is a little high (it’s actually kind of a lot high, at a point where other docs have adjusted the thyroxine dose to get it back down); he says I have to make sure I take my pill every day. He must think he’s dealing with a complete moron; either that, or he’s pissed that he’s not going to get whatever benefit HE gets from the colonoscopy. Either way, I see no reason to go back.

Here I thought, people are supposed to take more charge of their own health care. I do, and it ticks these guys off. WTF, docs?

Civil War monuments

Our president this morning is tweeting about how removing monuments to Civil War stalwarts throughout the South is the wrong thing to do, that the removal won’t change history.

I can’t help but wonder whether his opinion would change if it had been white men who spent a few hundred years in chains, often beaten to death by their black overseers. And then if white men had spent the next 150 years fighting situations like Jim Crow, poll taxes, segregation, and other laws that prevented them from being equals with blacks.

These constant reminders of how white men (and, let’s face it, a lot of white women) want to keep their boots on the necks of those who aren’t like them have to go. They shouldn’t have been put up in the first place; let’s recognize that, take them down, relegate them to museums, and move on.

Let’s face the fact that until we are all free, none of us is free. (Tip of the hat to Emma Lazarus)

Senseless violence

When I look up the word “senseless”, the first definition is something like “unconscious”, which suggests an element of thoughtlessness. So, while “senseless” can also mean “really stupid”, it doesn’t always.

Using the word “senseless”, then, to describe something like what happened in Charlottesville over the weekend, allows someone to think that these acts occurred without any intent, that things just somehow got out of hand. I doubt that that’s the case. A better term would be “moronic”.

My point is, we have to start calling these things what they are. Terrorism – yes. Heinous – yes. Senseless – no.