Why I Don't Like Going to the Doctor

When I was working in the corporate world, I used to hate having to get a medical certificate from the doctor whenever I was sick. Being educated in health science has its pros and cons - the pros of being aware of various health matters and the cons of being largely skeptical towards a great proportion of the general practitioners in this part of the world. Although, I must defend myself that I had good reason for my skepticism. As such, whenever I was down with a flu bug, I usually never see the doctor. I only did so whenever I needed that blasted medical certificate.

Don't doctors give you medicine to make you better?

Well, yes, unless you have a viral infection - like the flu. The flu is short for "influenza" - the virus that makes you ill. Of course there are many variations of this virus and in certain countries you can get vaccinated to protect you against particularly nasty strains. Unfortunately, once you're ill, there is really not much to be done but to ride out the symptoms.

Why you don't need the doctor when all you've got is the flu...

When you're sick, your body tries to fight off the infection by creating white blood cells to fight the germs that have invaded the body, but before the body can do that (because it takes time to figure out how to make antibodies that are effective), it will elevate your core temperature. That's when you get a fever. Yeah, a fever isn't entirely a bad thing to have because it means that your body's fighting.

Since most organisms like living at body temperature - the bugs that make you sick included - your body tries to increase your body temperature sufficiently to kill off those bugs. A fever only gets dangerous when it's uncontrolled. When that simple elevation isn't effective in getting rid of the bugs and the body's thermostat (your hypothalamus) starts increasing your body temperature even more, it's no longer just the germs that are in danger. Your body cells no longer function properly since the environment has shifted out of their optimal operating conditions, plus the enzyme proteins in your that make living possible start to denature at such high temperatures. In other words, your body is in danger. That's why you need paracetamol to control the fever.

In most parts of the world I know, paracetamol is readily available over the counter. So the only reason you would need to see the doctor is to get a prescription for antibiotics (over here, the doctors sell all their medications directly to you, however, which has some very bad repercussions because they get tempted to prescribe you as much as possible so they can charge you more for it). But if you have the flu, it's a viral infection and since antibiotics are only really affective against bacterial infections, you don't really need to get antibiotics.

So all you really need when you have the flu is plenty of fluids and bed rest. To control your symptoms, a little over the counter paracetamol (for the fever), nasal decongestants (if you have a stuffy nose) and throat lozenges (for the sore throat) will do the trick until you get better in about ten days.

In fact, any doctor that prescribes you antibiotics for the flu is really doing you a disservice.

Why?

Because at this point, we have reached the stage where we have discovered all the known variants of antibiotics available. The antibiotics we are currently using in the hospitals are the last line of defence we have for the serious bacterial infections. Simply taking antibiotics without a purpose only serves to increase the number of antibiotic resistant bacteria we possess in our bodies. Once the bacteria have become resistant to all forms of antibiotics, the fear is that medical care, as we know it, will return back to the dark ages before Alexander Flemming discovered antibiotics and people will be dying of bacterial infections that would otherwise have be saved by a course of antibiotics.

At least, this is what I remembered learning in my lecture...

Well, I've digressed a lot. Back to my original point. Since I often get sick for reasons that don't really require a visit to the doctor, I fail to see why I should drag myself out of bed, drive out to see the doctor, wait in a waiting room full of sick people for over an hour (if you want to see a good general practitioner, it can sometimes be that way) when I could better put my time towards resting just so I can get a slip of paper that says I don't need to go to work.

What's even worse is that I have to do this for every single day that I feel too crummy to go to work. This is just so my boss has "evidence" that I'm really sick and not just skiving off work. Which, incidentally, I should also add that if there are doctors here that will prescribe you medications you don't need, there will be the ones that will write you a medical cert even if you aren't sick, which defeats the purpose of a medical cert in the first place.

Except in my case, I encountered the opposite. Yes, this is the real reason why I feel so bitterly towards the doctors (well, one in particular). During one of my first jobs in the corporate world, I came down with the flu while preparing for an exhibition my company was participating in. In the lead up to the exhibition, my boss noticed that I was soldiering on despite being ill, so he kindly told me to go home and get some rest (yes, he was one of my better bosses).

Since I'd done most of what I needed to do before the exhibition and I felt rotten to the core, I didn't need much convincing to leave the office. As I was driving home, I thought I had better get one of those blasted medical certs for the paper work I would have to fill out when I got back into the office, so I detoured to see a panel clinic on our company's list.

When I finally got in to see the doctor, I was upset by the doctor who told me I wasn't sick and that I should go back to work. Plus, she refused to write me a medical cert. After waiting to see her, alls he did was ask about my symptoms, and measure my temperature (which wasn't recordable since I was high on paracetamol, anyway).

Annoyed, I waited to pay my consultation fees only to discover that she had prescribed me no less than four different medications for that illness she said I didn't have (she also prescribed me paracetamol for that fever I didn't have, too)! By that time I was really mad. Though it was upsetting that she didn't believe I was sick (when I really was), it was downright unscrupulous to make money off my company by charging me for meds! Suffice to say I lost a lot of faith in doctors after that day.

Although, after writing that, I think I need to do justice to the real and true doctors who have since restored my faith in the medical profession since my visit to that particular doctor.

Thankfully, I had a boss who was very understanding and told me to go home after I told him I was heading back to the office since the doctor refused to give me a medical cert. I guess his priority was for me to be fully functioning during the exhibition and he didn't mind me taking a couple of days sick leave prior.

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