I recently took my car to the mechanic.
I did this because when I put the car in reverse it sounded like a garbage bag filled with angry baby baboons. Forward? No problem.
I brought the car in.
The guy looked it over and told me my brakes were about 95% gone and should be replaced.
So that’s what I did.
Later I googled screeching in reverse noise. I received many interesting ideas as to what the problem could be. Many of the lists included problems with brakes. Others listed too much air or not enough air in tires, alternator belt, fan belt, or evil leprechauns were hiding the squealing demon Garzabel in my car.
I must admit, I am not a car guy. I am a cartoon guy. So, when the expert told me the problem, I trusted him and did what he said, and the problem was solved. Though, he never even looked for Garzabel.
Now lets transition into the ER.
In any given week, I have a few patients who have “researched” the cause of their symptoms. This sometimes (rarely) results in helpful information. By “sometimes,” I mean I am sure WebMD once told someone they might have the flu and they did.
Unfortunately, some patients visit sites like “Captain Wackjob’s medieval maladies and bloodletting dot com.”
This site told them how to fix everything.
Usually it’s via a cleanse. A cleanse can do anything. It can stop time. A good cleanse can go back in time and kill Hitler. A cleanse can make you invincible.
The key is to always be kind. Some patients will never be convinced they’re wrong. Want proof? Come to the ER with me for a shift and try to convince an anti-vaccine mother that she should immunize her kids. Try to convince someone taking $300 of vitamins a week that they are only making their urine pretty colors and wasting money. Try convincing someone to stop smoking by using logic.
It rarely works.
However, many people that ignore science will GOBBLE up pseudoscience like a delicious toxin-cleansing, non-GMO, anti-free-radical panacea. Especially if a cleanse is involved.
I wish I could just make up my own pseudoscience to actually help people.
In such a world, I could twist the crooked logic until the convolution becomes so discombobulated that the swiveled argument warps (often accidentally) into a coherent deduction (much like this sentence). Now, I never condone lying to a patient, but sometimes I wish I could just bend the truth a little to help guide certain people towards the light.
It would go something like this:
Me: Hello ma’am, what brings you in today?
Her: My low back is hurting again.
Me: Sorry to hear that, did you fall, or twist it?
Her: No. It always hurts. It’s been hurting for two years.
Me: Ah. Uh. Huh. Um, and how can I help you today?
Her: Well, I think I know what’s causing the problem.
Me: Okay. Well, good. So how can I help you?
Her: It’s my food allergies. I read online that people who are lactose intolerant get bloated when they eat dairy. I eat pizza all the time, which I think is causing my back pain.
Me: I can see you eat pizza all the time, you weight 414 pounds. That’s a significant amount of bloating. Perhaps if you were even MORE allergic to pizza this could help decrease your back pain.
Her: Do you think so?
Me: I know it. I can also see, by the Double Big Gulp of Coke that you drink quite a bit of sugary calorie laden pop. We ran some tests on your diabetes, and it shows us that your diabetes are actually allergic to pop!
Me: Yes! I’ve seen pop-allergic diabetes before…
Her: Is there anything I can do?
Me: I’m glad you asked. You need a cleanse.
Her: I knew it.
Me: It turns out only by flushing your system can we eliminate the accumulated toxins. You need to stop drinking any pop. Only drink water. Also you need to stop eating fast food.
Her: Do I need to put lemons in the water? Or limes? I read about lime water.
Me: Sure, what the hell, why not. Magic lime water is what you need, just stop the pop and pizza. I’ll write you a prescription for limes and water, just stop the pop, and follow up with your PCP in two weeks.
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