I take many things in my body for granted, and why shouldn’t I? My lungs expand and contract, my liver filters impurities (the things I’ve thrown its way; it likely resembles an ancient boiler in a crumbling Queens apartment building: huge, rusted, clanging and sputtering inefficiency), my stomach diligently breaks down all the poor choices my palette passes along, no matter how offensive to its purpose, and my heart pumps, almost rhythmically, oxygenated blood throughout to ensure proper function of various organs and internal parts. All of this is done without any input from me, and for the most part, while the machine as a whole may outwardly appear more Ford Escort than Lamborghini Gallardo, it works pretty well. Frankly, and I’m certain I’m not alone here, I don’t notice any of these vital parts unless something goes wrong with them. If things are functioning well on their own, I’m not messing with them; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (Only old people espouse the virtues of this particular axiom; their longevity lends to its credence).
When something goes wrong with your car, you take it to a mechanic. (Or, in my case, try to fix it yourself, botch the job beyond any discernible hope for cure, then take it to the mechanic to see if he’s as good as he claims to be). Forgive me now for employing the car analogy beyond any sensible or even tolerable limit, but when the body fails, the mechanic is your doctor. No offense to anyone in the medical profession, but I have about as much faith in my doctor as I do my mechanic. Let’s face it: if you take your car in, complaining that there’s a sudden, consistent noise emanating from the front of your car, the mechanic will find it. Twelve hundred dollars and three days later, you have your car back, running more or less as you expect. The mechanic spews forth some jargon about steering anomalies or suspension adjustments, but do you really understand what was done? Perhaps you ran over a deck of playing cards and the constant noise you hear is one or more of them stuck in your wheel, flapping against some surface with every revolution.
Your physician is no different. Suppose you have a nagging pain in your abdominal area; because it hasn’t gone away in one or two day’s time and you have great insurance (an oxymoron if ever there was one), you go to see your doctor. Given a novice’s description of what you perceive as a problem with the operation of your vehicle (you), he or she will attempt a diagnosis. He or she orders a battery of tests, and the booger the technician wiped on your MRI image becomes a disturbing, life-threatening tumor. Forget that the chorizo burrito you gulped down at El Coli’s has finally clanked down through your small intestine like a Pachinko ball, announcing its arrival in your colon with a twenty-seven second sphincteral bleating and that you feel instantly better. I’m sorry to have to tell you this: you have stomach cancer.
Perhaps I’m overstating things a bit, but my point is that often those to whom we defer wield infinite power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, so the likelihood of being taken advantage of is very real and, in the event that a problem exists and a diagnosis required, often they’re likely just guessing. I can usually tell when something’s wrong with my car that requires something more than my usual mere avoidance or disinterest, and in those instances I will begrudgingly defer to those better equipped to handle it. I’m no different with respect to my health; if I spontaneously bleed from my eyes or any of the southern-most orifices, I will likely seek help from a trained professional, after giving time a day or two to take care of things on its own. I feel I’m much more in tune with my body then I am with my car, so I’m not taking it to the shop (i.e. the hospital, where germs, MRSA, and all the things wrong with other “cars” are highly contagious and dance with glee on literally every surface) unless I absolutely have to. I’ve probably been to the doctor maybe five times in the last twenty-five years. Preventative medicine to me means avoiding any prodding or probing of my body (in a medical sense) by professionals unless I, the everyday driver and therefore preeminent judge, decide that something is wrong to the extent that time alone cannot repair it.
Most of you probably think that I’m an idiot and that I’ll die before my time. You’re probably right, but at least I won’t suffer any lame attempts to prolong my life or die prematurely as a result. Colonoscopy? Thank you, no. In the avoidance of exploration of my chute, I am stubbornly (and poetically) resolute. I apologize to any physicians or mechanics who might stumble upon this particular rant; I’m sure you’re more than competent and that you’ve helped a great number of people. I just feel that in the case of the human body, thousands of parts, moving in perfect synchronicity, completely dependent upon each other and functioning interactively literally millions of times in a lifetime, cannot be explained as existing through the convenience of nearly infinite time. God is my creator, and He is infallible; He will always get first crack at making me better. However, in the event that I urinate in a color outside the spectrum of almost clear to bright orange, or find myself cradling (through some misfortune) my entrails in my arms, I resolve to seek prompt medical attention.