Monday, November 07, 2005

Musician, Heal Thyself

I think I'm over the hump as far as the allergy misery goes. I may have hit my lowest point this morning; it could have been the practice room (located in a school where there's never been any air circulation in that wing since the building opened) or the fact that some of the students were making the same goofy mistakes over and over again, but nonetheless, I soldiered on, and by the time I had lunch (which perked me up considerably, as it always does), I knew that the worst was behind me. Indeed, for a while, the coughing and congestion were totally gone, and all that lingered was the worn-out feeling. That's cool. I can handle worn-out. It's a part of many of my teaching days...

So last night, when I was lamenting the fact that this whole thing hadn't passed yet, a friend of mine asked me if I was going to go to the doctor. "No way," was my reply. It would have to be way worse than this before I would consider that option. After all, in my line of work, if I go to the doctor (thanks to their totally annoying habit of not being open during hours when I'm not working [he says with tongue partially planted in cheek]), I end up paying twice--once, to pay him, and the second time, by losing lesson income.

If anything, I'd been an idiot for not doing something about the fact that I'd run out of both cough drops and Nyquil when the malaise hit last week. But now, I was armed with both, and I fully expected them to do their job. So far, so good. There's a little bit of a lingering cough tonight, and my throat was a bit scratchy at the end of teaching...but then, how can I really teach without speaking (notwithstanding my strategy from Friday)? One more good night of sleep--aided by the cup of cherry-flavored elixir--and one more subdued day of teaching, and I should be OK.

But going back to my friend's question made me revisit a subject I've thought about many times before: Do people go to the doctor too much? I just can't imagine running to the medical building every time I had some minor ailment. I think about my late grandparents, who seemed to have every pill under the sun on their bathroom counter, and I think it might be overkill. Sure, there'll probably be a time later in life when I'll have some things wrong with me that can't be treated over the counter, but I hope that I won't be tempted to go in for every little thing. If anything, I'd be more afraid of catching something worse from other people there.

This all goes back to when I was a freshman at UNT and I got sick from the Denton water the first two weeks I was there (that was the best that anyone could offer up as a reason, and indeed, I would use melted ice for drinking water the entire time I lived in the dorm--this being pre-Dasani days, after all). After a few weeks of excessive hurling at inopportune times (OK, is there ever really an opportune time to hurl?) and even having a messed-up blood count, I just decided I needed to get well, right then and there, or I would never get this new phase in my life underway. I grabbed life by the cojones and yanked hard, and I did end up thinking myself well, more or less.

On the flip side of the coin, I had the use of the UNT Student Health Center (lovingly dubbed the "Quack Shack" in those days) for the next several years. Doctor visits were free and prescriptions were cheap, and I pretty much did go in for every little thing for a while, and I recall feeling less healthy during this time; maybe I was catching stuff from the actual sick people who were there? (This would also seem to be a good argument against socialized medicine; when the service was free, people used it more than they probably needed to, which gummed up the system. Eventually, the lines got so long that I think they now charge a small fee for an appointment.)

So who knows why this works. Maybe I've just been really lucky so far. Certainly, I've built up quite an immune system over the years. (This likely stems both from spending my days in the aforementioned stuffy practice rooms--sometimes teaching kids who are technically too sick to be there--and from the fact that I'm not married yet, so I've lived under a guy's system of cleanliness for a long time, which is bound to build up immunity to something. Indeed, I fully expect to get sick more often once I'm married...but it'll be totally worth it.) But hey, I'm not complaining.

So what do you think about this whole thing? Do you agree that people tend to go to the doctor too often, weakening their own immune system in the process? Can one really think oneself well? And is there any substance to my theory that I'm hardier than many folks because I only live under "guy cleanliness?"

Also, feel free to include any helpful hints for staying well during the cold and flu season. Personally, I wash my hands frequently, don't shake hands with anyone who's coughing or sneezing, etc. All I can say is, it works for me.

And now, it's time to chug the red stuff and go to bed.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: " It’s fine if your day doesn’t start with dog, but it ought to end with dog."--James Lileks, in today's Bleat. My day starts with cat (or sometimes, cleaning up the unpleasant expulsions from cat, if she's in her "What litter box?" phase), but hopefully there'll be a dog in the mix somewhere down the road.


Eric Grubbs said...

Since I've gone through periods of having no health insurance in the last five years, I've stayed away from the doctor. Luckily, the worst illness I've had was the flu. Whenever I get sick, I drink lots of orange juice, tea (with honey) and water and take it easy.

Matters don't help when I get a sore throat and can't talk (like yesterday), thus I can't do stuff like report traffic or talk on the phone.

Hurl said...

I think there needs to be a handbook published "when to go to the dr." to assist people in managing their health. That and another one on "how to know when you have found a quack". I think the latter is what prevents people from going to the dr. when they really need bad experience can ruin you for life and quite possibly ruin your life if you ignore symptoms just because you've been exposed to a health care quack. I watched such an event tear a family up; the man refused to go to the dr. even when it became obvious to anyone who saw him that something was terribly wrong. His answer to anyone who would suggest that he see a dr. to find out what was wrong with him was..."ain't going to no damn dr. they're all a bunch of quacks". He finally had to be ambulanced from his home when his wife found him on the floor in a pool of blood. He had rectal cancer and his family was forced to watch his tragic and very painful decline into death. Had he gone to the dr. when the symptoms first presented he would in all probability be alive today. No I don't think one should go to the dr. everytime you sneeze, cough, or everytime something hurts, but after you try to fix yourself with OTC remedies, at least investigate why your body is doing whatever it is doing. Then once you find out what is wrong you are free to make informed decisions on what you wish to do about your condition. Some feel ignorance is bliss, but I say knowledge is power!

james d. said...

kevin, you've never been to a doctor as long as i've known ya.

i bet when you were born the doctor didnt quite make it in time, so a nurse had to assist.

if you were to ever die by inhaling a reed, their would be no autopsy, just a guy goin... "wow.. weird huh?"