Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sometimes M.D. Means Something Else...

An interesting debate is raging on the Wall Street Journal's editorial page.  Apparently, several advocates of what's called Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) published a recent editorial extolling the virtues of alternatives to expensive, western-style medicine.

And now the letters are rolling in, like storm clouds before a summer rain.  One in particular, from a physician, caught my attention.  The writer referred to CAM users as "scientific illiterates..."  Well, alrighty then.

As an aside, is there another industry, anywhere, of any type, where leaders routinely get away with such dripping, loathing condescension toward customers?  If so, they're mostly crafty enough to avoid being quoted in a major newspaper.  

And is there an industry with leaders LESS prone to examining their OWN blind spots before spewing such cretinous thoughts?  Oh wait.  Doctors don't have blind spots; medical school told 'em so.  

Nope.  Pharma companies are all about the SCIENCE, never skewing research in their own self-interest.  

And, if medicine is deeply scientific, what exactly PRECEDED the recent focus on "evidence-based medicine"?  Don't ask, but it ain't always about the SCIENCE.  

And med school libraries must not stock that pesky Dartmouth Atlas, showing in stark relief the differences in treatment patterns between adjacent towns...each pattern surely supported by lavish, footnoted SCIENCE.  

And physicians too are all about the SCIENCE, never acting in their own financial self-interest; just ask all those companies trying to sell 'em their own MRIs.

Science, just science and nothing but the science.  Right, thank you Doctor.  I hope I never run into you in an ER somewhere, you and your smug, arrogant attitude, not realizing you're making it up as you go.

But back to the point at hand.  Several years ago, while training for the Steelhead Half-IM, I began to suffer excruciating lower back pain on longer bike rides.  Now, thanks to my real job (if 'thanks' is the right sentiment here...) I know enough orthopedic surgeons to have gained easy access to any number of prescriptions for painkillers, muscle relaxants, Prozac, probably an MRI or two, maybe even surgery, all scientific, legitimate and generally-accepted treatments for back pain...well, maybe not the Prozac.

Instead I refitted my bike and tweaked my riding position, revamped my core training to strengthen the offending area's muscles and, at CoachKaryn's recommendation, started acupuncture, yoga and getting weekly massages (all paid for out-of-pocket.)  Presto!  Problem solved!

Not so fast.  If you believe the good doctor, I might've said 'goodbye' to pain and 'hello' to a great race, but I also said 'buh-bye' to half my IQ, most of my personal credibility and all my scientific literacy.  My "solutions" weren't, not really.  No medical imprimatur, no double-blind studies, no JAMA articles, not part of the standard medical school curriculum, nothing to lend credence or respectability.  Probably just the placebo if that should END the debate.  

But I - clueless, illiterate bastard that I am - LOVE debates, the longer the better!  I'm also pain-free and speedy as hell!  And, Doctor?  I do hope I run over you, er, into you, on a race course some day.

UPDATE:  Ann Althouse takes the doctor's side.  Go figure.  A lawyer agreeing with a doctor under a full moon.  I better buy a lottery ticket.

No comments: