Thursday, October 04, 2007

Medicine in 2007

I'm still having some weird physical/medical stuff going on going on with my right hand (and my left hand and my legs), about which I've written before. After an EMG, and an MRI, I had a series of spinal injections since July, which didn't do a thing to help. So my doc referred me to a neurologist, whom I saw today.

Being a new patient, I had to fill out that basic information sheet, of course (as well as that usual gazillion-page medical history form). It always makes me laugh when I encounter that "marital status" section which offers the options of single, married, divorced, and widowed. Apparently the medical profession hasn't yet figured out that "none of the above" or "gay" would be the answer for a decent minority of the population. Sheesh!

Into the exam room, where the nurse goes over all the forms, confirms the information, asks me to explain the problem I'm having. She leaves.

Then the neurologist comes in, goes over all the forms, confirms the information yet again, and asks me again to explain the problem I'm having. I keep wondering: Why the hell do they have the nurse do all that, if the doctor is going to do it all over again?

But I digress ….

While going over the info, the neurologist asks: "And you're single?" "Yes," I say – perhaps with a bit of a wry expression. After all, with the exception of a couple of states in the U.S., all gay people are officially "single," even if they've been in a committed relationship for decades.

Then we get into the neurological exam/assessment. While he's tapping various body parts to check my reflexes, we have this little exchange:

Doc: So you're single?
Me: Yep.
Doc: Ever married?
Me: Nope.
Doc: Any homosexual activity?
Me: Yes.
Doc: Have you been tested for HIV?
Me: Yes.
Doc: When?
Me: Back in the early '90s. It was Atlanta. ... Why?
Doc: Because HIV/AIDS can create some of the symptoms you're having. … Any homosexual activity since your last test?
Me: Yes.
Doc: Mmmmmm …
Am I the only one who finds that sequence just a little weird? I thought that by the Year of Our Lord 2007, most people with a college education had learned that HIV/AIDS is not a gay disease. In fact, my understanding is that in the U.S., it's growing fastest among straight women of color.

So how come he first needed to ascertain I was gay before asking me about HIV testing? That's just stupid. Seems to me the question should have been "Have you had any unprotected sex since your last HIV test?" rather than whether I'd had any "homosexual activity."

Mind you, the guy didn't seem at all judgmental. And in this part of the country, folks aren't exactly progressive about their language. And he seemed very caring. The only thing about which he was judgmental was the fact that I smoke and have no intention to quit or cut down.

But the sequence of his questions struck me as very '80s.

Anyway … based on his evaluation, he wants an MRI of my brain, and a gazillion blood tests, including HIV testing. That makes sense.

However, I'm a bit miffed that doctors in 2007 would still equate "gay" with "HIV."


Anonymous Linda McMillan said...

He is a moron. But,it sounds like he's taking good care of you. That's what matters.

I run into the same thing here in Texas all the time. Tune it out and enjoy the silence, that's what I always say.

Take care!


10/04/2007 8:23 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Yep. There are a lot of morons in this part of the world.

Thank you, Lindy.

10/04/2007 8:48 PM  
Blogger StLouisJohn said...

Agreed on the moron part.

My GP is the opposite though. He knows I'm gay, but doesn't even bother to ask about sexual activity -- homosexual or otherwise.

I guess my surly attitude each visit tells him I'm not getting any :(

10/04/2007 9:19 PM  

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