Wednesday, January 25, 2023


I am baffled by the concept, in modern parlance, of serious issues being solved by “you and your doctor.” This is another example of rhetoric no longer based on anything resembling our social reality.

Politicians say it all the time. So do TV pundits and commentators. Pro-choice or anti-abortion people. “You and your doctor.” 

What doctors are these? Am I missing something? Is there a great swath of people out there lucky enough to have a doctor who is constantly thinking about them and their healthcare when the patient is at the supermarket or picking up the kids?

It's likely that the pundits and politicians who use this phrase live a different life than you or I, no matter how much they try to suggest they don't. But here in the real world, with only a few exceptions, most doctors I’ve encountered don’t even know your name, little less what’s wrong with you or even your most basic history.

Most come in, poke around on the computer, and interrupt you when you’re talking. Or explaining what’s wrong with you. “Well, I’ve been vomiting up copper-colored iron filings for the last two weeks” – “uh huh, uh huh.” This is especially true for women and – I’m told – especially Black women. Classy.

The idea that a radical emotion course of action such as when or if to terminate a pregnancy or bring a new life into the world – your world – would require meaningful consultation with your doctor is absurd. 

I’m a sometimes filmmaker and I grew up around actors. I have come to the conclusion that doctors are kind of like “day players.” This precludes listening or awareness of the whole story. They’re there to do their bit and shake hands at the end of the shoot and see everyone later. Doctors are like this. They’re not that invested simply because they’re only there for their scene.

A day player. In the movie of your life. And, once they’re played their scene – prescribing you drugs you don’t need and withholding drugs you do; referring you to a specialist you don’t need and missing all the signs of something serious – they figure their scene is done and they move on to the next patient. Or scene.

There are a zillion reasons for this, but let’s acknowledge that this problem ought to be added to the list when we talk about broken healthcare systems in both Canada and the US.

“You and your doctor.” Me and my mechanic, maybe. My pharmacist. My diet guy. Physio-therapist? Barber. That’s the ticket.

“Whether I carry this child to term or abort it is a decision that should only be made between me and my barber.”


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