Stupid Mistakes Champion

Once upon a time when I was younger and dumber than I give myself credit for being now I expected that by the time I turned 40 I’d be done making stupid mistakes. When my 40th birthday came around I was neck deep in a longstanding stupid mistake but fortunate that a midlife crisis was just about to compel me to correct it. I thought afterward that I might be done with stupid mistakes, but thinking that was its own stupid mistake. I still had a few more in me. I made the hands down single biggest stupid mistake of my entire life so far when I was 45 and it damn near killed both Amethyst and me.

I hope but can’t confidently predict that it will remain the biggest mistake of my life. Every time I get to thinking that I have achieved the ultimate peak of stupidity I find that I have underestimated my capacity for it. But I still hope that maybe that doozy was my greatest achievement in that realm.

Just a few weeks shy of two years ago I thought that surely there must be some identifiable organic cause for my perpetual fatigue and brain fog. I expected the tests to show a lazy thyroid or something similar, but all of the tests the doc thought appropriate and a couple or three more that I added to the panel came back dead nuts centered in the normal range. You knew that already, having read my last puddle of bits, unless you’re fortunate enough to have missed it — and if so there’s no reason to go looking for it because I’ve just repeated myself.

Unless you just got here, you know that I have no respect for authority, including the authority of the medical services industry. Especially that of the medical services industry. And why would I? It has too often happened that those I know and sometimes even love have asked me for help after their somber, earnest, highly paid physicians have either thrown up their hands in defeat or have settled upon an inappropriate and certainly debilitating course of (“heroic”) action. Something is very seriously wrong when people ask a computer programmer to save their lives because their physicians have given up on them. Something is obviously very seriously wrong when a computer programmer succeeds where physicians have admitted defeat. It’s not a burden I’d ever welcome. I don’t want people I love calling me on the telephone to say that their doctors have sent them home to die because there’s nothing more that medical science can do for them and they’re hoping that I can save their lives. I don’t want to be the last thing standing between them and the hole. I don’t have what it takes to survive the emotional aftermath if what little I know about a few sometimes useful plants is insufficient. All I ever did was seek to satisfy some small portion of my curiosity about useful plants and it was not ever intended to lead to this. But how do you say no when a loved one asks you for help to stay alive a while longer and no one else will even try to give it?

So just now it’s a wonder to me that I put my faith in the doc whose advice set me on the course of once again fighting against my intractably skewed circadian rhythm. What did it was my recognition of the possibility that what I think I might know is really nothing more than unwarranted arrogance. My doc is nine years my senior, so he should know his gig as well as I know mine. He should know his gig better than I know mine because he went to college, and I skipped that part. (Not because I wanted to, but that’s another story.) We put our faith in physicians because we know that if they aren’t all that we expect them to be we’re all a helluva lot closer to the grave than we want to be today. They’re the people we turn to when the most valuable thing we’ve got is in jeopardy. Our faith in them is so strong that most of us will deny objective facts proving that medical professionals are a much greater threat to our lives than are drunk drivers. Medical errors are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. If that report is not bogus and there were approximately 98,000 deaths due to medical error in 2010, and if the CDC’s count of total deaths from all causes in the US in 2010 (2,468,435) is accurate, then about 4% of all deaths in 2010 were due to medical error. Imagine the uproar that would occur if 4% of all traffic accidents were due to faulty automotive engineering, or 4% of all house fires were due to mistakes made by electricians.

That’s my glitch right now. I know the bastards are far more incompetent than practitioners of any other profession. I know this. But I took my doc’s advice to “work on [my] work/life balance” and practice “good sleep hygiene”, and spent the next two years driving myself into exhaustion by fighting against my immovable circadian rhythm.

I guess I wasn’t yet done making stupid mistakes. It pisses me off that after all this time, after learning the hard way time and time again, I was still stupid enough to make that one. I can’t really blame the doc because I know that folks in his line of work should not be trusted except to handle the mechanical things like broken arms and screwed up gall bladders. This one’s on me.

I really do hope that I learn soon. These damned stupid mistakes are going to be the end of me if I don’t get them under control.






5 thoughts on “Stupid Mistakes Champion

    1. happierheathen Post author

      I don’t know if it was a good idea or not. It might have been completely neutral. It probably wasn’t bad, but it diverted me from a course that might have been far better. Only because I was stupid enough to allow it.

  1. erikamsteele

    Doctors frighten me, especially the younger ones that use Google. I want to yell if you have to use Google, I might as well make the diagnosis myself and tell you what the problem is.

    1. happierheathen Post author

      I’d rather have some putz who’s just guessing at it use Google, actually. Reliance upon outdated texts is common cause of error. The doc who isn’t using the PC right there in the exam room? The reason he leaves the exam room a couple of times during your visit is to go back to his office to look things up.

      What scares me is that GP’s are really nothing more than technicians, in the classical meaning of the term before it was applied to tire jockeys, and among the least skilled of the technicians in their field. It’s like calling for IT support — the first person you encounter is the trained monkey whose primary skill is reading the flow chart aloud and soliciting feedback to determine which branch to follow. If you’ve got a problem the flow chart won’t solve, you get an escalation to some other technician who has deeper knowledge of the specific problem domain. “Good afternoon sir. I see you have a sucking chest wound today. In order to better assist you, may I have your telephone number in case we get disconnected?”.

      1. erikamsteele

        lol. I guess I haven’t had a normal experience at a doctor’s office in awhile. I try to pick MD PhDs. I have never had a doctor get up to leave to go look something up. For GP stuff, I would feel the same about ones who have to get up to leave the room. I get needing to double check if you suspect something out of the ordinary, but yea.

        I’ll be glad when we are able to do body scans Star Trek style.


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