Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Every doc has at least one patient who's a certifiable wacko. Not just somebody who rubs you the wrong way, not somebody who has their Own Ideas about what kind of treatment they need, I mean feet-off-the-surface-of-the-planet wacko.
I saw mine today. She is definitely Doctor with a Cutlass material. I do feel sorry for her, but I have no idea why she keeps coming to see me, since she's rejected every conventional medical treatment I have to offer. Briefly, she was diagnosed with breast cancer some time ago, I think about two years. After considerable negotiation she underwent surgery and was told she needed adjuvant chemo and radiation because she was considered to be at high risk for recurrence. Instead, she has spent an unbelievable amount of time and money embracing every alternative treatment known to man, including a "cleansing diet" of raw organic fruit and vegetable juices that supposedly revs up the immune system to attack the tumor, coffee enemas (I wish I were kidding), and the latest treatment she sprang on me today. She has rejected follow-up mammograms because they involve radiation - obviously - and she is convinced that they will cause further tumor formation. Never mind that it took a mammogram to discover the thing in the first place, and the total lack of evidence that mammograms cause cancer.
At least her treatment du jour lightened my spirits a bit - in fact, I found it hard to keep a straight face in the exam room. She had gone out and purchased some relaxation tapes which put the brain into an "alpha state," thereby raising (or was it lowering? I forget) cortisol levels, thereby making the body more able to fight off cancer. Now, I have no problem with meditation or relaxation tapes per se. There is evidence that daily meditation or relaxation techniques can help lower blood pressure, for instance. What nearly caused me to lose it in front of the patient was a sudden thought:
What if these tapes are full of subliminal messages? What if she's being programmed to take over the world? I suddenly recalled the Charles Bronson movie Telefon in which previously brainwashed people picked up the phone, heard a coded message which "activated" them, and headed out to wreak havoc and then off themselves. Just picturing the guy pushing these tapes as a stealthy Donald Pleasence type recruiting a zombie army was enough to give me the giggles. It wouldn't be too difficult - patients who can be convinced to give themselves coffee enemas can be convinced to do damn near anything.