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Have It Your Way by:
Don Dunham

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Barfly Tales From The Barstool By: Clint Lien

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In My Opinion
By L.N.P.

Revisiting one of my favorite topics; who can you trust? I've already tackled, and raked over the coals, insurance companies, HMOs, lending institutions, and of course, credit card companies. But now we're down to basics: doctors and lawyers. If you can't trust those professional, accredited, licensed, supposedly well-educated experts in their field, then who can you trust.

Recent experience has taught me several things. Probably the single most disturbing thing I've learned is that there is no single opinion, no objective truth when dealing with doctors and attorneys. That's upsetting when it comes to attorneys, but downright frightening when it comes to matters relating to my physical well-being. We're talking my body here.

For almost ten years I went to the same Primary Care Physician (that's what they call family doctors, or general practitioners these days). He was a terrific guy; in fact, I imagine he's still a terrific guy. He and I had an established routine. We'd talk for around twenty to thirty minutes after the nurse had taken my pulse, temperature, and blood pressure. When I was still smoking, he tried to convince me to stop. When my blood pressure was too high, he prescribed blood pressure medication. It got to the point that when I needed a PAP smear, he suggested that he do it, to save me the hassle of going to my gynecologist. It never really registered with me that I wasn't receiving a thorough physical examination. I enjoyed just talking to him, and besides, I felt fine. There came a time when my PMS got so unbearable that he prescribed birth control pills to be taken every day; ie; no periods. Allelujah! I maintained that regimen for about six years. Twice I asked to be tested to see if I happened to be pre-menopausal yet, since I had certainly reached that age, and both times he tested me, and assured me that I was still fertile (not that I wanted to be, but that's another story).

Needless to say, I felt terrible when I was forced to change doctors due to the switch in my Health Care Providers (that's what they call HMO money-making machines nowadays). However, after spending an hour with my new Primary Care Physician, I was fairly well shaken up. He took my blood pressure, and then gave me an electrocardiogram, where he noticed some abnormalities. So, he referred me to a cardiologist. He didn't like my birth control regimen, or the fact that I hadn't been to a gynecologist in six years, so he referred me to a gynecologist. He was appalled by several other things I'd been neglecting, so he referred me to two other specialists to take care of those. I left his office loaded down with four new doctor appointments, blood tests at one lab, and a long-overdue mammogram at another. I told him I didn't have the time to do all of this and still work my usual 12-hour days, but he didn't care. He had tunnel vision. All he cared about was my health!

Now, the gynecologist didn't agree with all of the things my Primary Care Physician had said, but he was horrified with everything my previous doctor had failed to do, and with the fact that I was being "over-hormonized" as he put it by the birth control pills. He also informed me that it was impossible to test for whether or not a person was in menopause when they were taking birth control pills. As far as the results of all those hormones, without getting any more graphic there are some definite problems. The ultrasound, which has been added to my list of appointments, should clarify things immensely. And the cardiologist wasn't convinced that there were abnormalities in the electrocardiogram, but he was furious about the dosage and type of blood pressure medication I was on. The stress test, another new appointment, will clear up any indecision about my normal or abnormal heart functioning, and the new blood pressure medication he prescribed has already proven totally effective. It actually lowers my blood pressure.

So what have I learned from all of this? A. It was much easier going to my first doctor then to my second? B. Every doctor has his or her own opinion about everything? C. You need to demand a thorough physical examination and not just talk to your doctor? D. You need to go to specialists for different body parts because Primary Care Physicians exist to do referrals? I don't really know what my "final answer" is; all I'm sure of is that I no longer know who I can, or should trust.

What can I say about attorneys that hasn't been said before. Nobody trusts attorneys.* Nevertheless, because I'm such a trusting person, at least when someone who is being paid anywhere from $250-$400 per hour is giving me advice, I tend to believe them. If they say, "Don't worry about this; it's nothing." I really want to believe them. When they say, "That will never happen" I want to relax. But it just doesn't work that way. Over the last few years, I've watched as either I, or someone I know or love, has had "nothings" turn into "somethings" and things that will "never happen" happen. What's the reason for that? A. Are attorneys trained in law school to repeat that mantra to all clients? B. Are they so arrogant that they think by saying it, it's true? C. Are they just incompetent, and have no clue what will really happen? D. Do they lull you into doing nothing so that they can collect the really big money when something happens? Again, my final answer is unclear, although in this case I would bet it's all of the above. But it certainly does raise the issue again; who should I trust?

My real question is why should I, or anyone else, have to ask that question. Have we all just become much more informed, and far more skeptical than in the good old days? Or are there really more incompetent, less trustworthy professionals out there than before?

* apologies to the few truly honest, caring attorneys out there, some of whom also happen to be good friends.

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