Staying Alive

16 11 2007

Simon is a big man, tall and just, well, BIG. He is also my GP or general practitioner -what might be referred to as family doctor elsewhere. He is a genial fellow and not at all opinionated as the older generation of medics in this country can be. He has just moved into his very own practice of which he is justifiably proud. It’s been a long road; he moved here in 1977 just  before it all went pear-shaped and since then he has moved from partnership to partnership, locum to locum but now it’s all his. Not without a bit of borrowing from wealthy siblings in his native Jersery (Channel Islands).”I could not have afforded the garage in Jersey”, he told me when I asked him the obvious question. “Here at least I have a nice house and a quality of education for my children that I could not contemplate over there”.

That was a while ago and today, when I questioned his common sense, the reply was a little more succinct; “When the education fucks up I’ll go”. He’s a good doctor so I hope he’ll stay, not just for the education and the practice he’s waited so long to acquire. There are not many doctors in this town who’ll give you their cell and home number!

“So this is the shotgun approach”, I commented as Simon wrote the script for my infected leg.
“Yes”, he enthused, totally missing the cynicism. “This one is for gram negative bacteria, this one for anaerobes and the third will take out anything else as we don’t know what’s causing the infection”. I looked in awe at the list and not without a bit of trepidation; I have taken so many pills in my life that I am a little bit tired of it. Not that there was an alternative, the infection that I have could clear up (doubtful) or spread to the rest of the body. No thanks. Chatting about the usual things that Zimbabweans chat about these days, i.e. foraging, I mentioned that I’d forgotten that it was milk day. He told me that one of his patients was very ill with what they suspected to be Listeria or Brucellosis, either of which could have come from contaminated and unpasteurized milk. I guess we are starting to pay the price for unregulated suppliers making a quick buck on a very desperate public!

I duly drove over to the pharmacist who greeted my by name (at what price fame?) and collected and paid for the script. I noticed that food was an integral part of the treatment procedure so wanting to hit the nail on the head walked to the bakers (next door but one to the closed butcher) and bought some rusks (bready biscuity things that are popular in this part of the world) and two current buns. Sooo, the costing looks like this:

Doctor’s consult:          $6.6m
Antibiotics and aspirin as blood thinner: 97 and 100 items respectively – $9.7m
Food to take the above: $2.2m (of course I will use other food too but this illustrates the point)
Maths: divide by about 1.3m to get US dollars but this is NOT my point.

So what IS the message here?
a)      It’s cheap enough to keep you alive if you can afford the food to take with the antibiotics?
b)      Food is disproportionately expensive (in this case uncontrolled price) or medical supplies are still very cheap (regulated price)?

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One response

16 11 2007
Big Blister

Be sure to keep on top of the infection. MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphyloccus aureus) is not anything to mess with if there’s any likelihood of it being a Staph infection…

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