Paging Dr. Web

Experts report a decrease in the number of physicians practicing medicine in America, citing a number of reasons for the decline. (Well, I’m not certain if anyone actually gives any reasons, but by saying “Experts report…,” it makes it at least sound like I’m not making any of this up. Just work with me on this).

Anyway, despite what all of the experts say about why fewer people are pursuing careers in medicine, I think the reasons is simple: there’s less for doctors to do today and that’s because of the just one person: Dr. Web.

Maybe he’s your primary care physician, too. Maybe “he” isn’t the right word either. I’ve never actually spoken to Dr. Web, so he could be a she. I bet you’re like me and not know the doctor by first or formal name, just initials, last name and degree. I’m sure you’ve heard of this medical professional W.W.W. Web, M.D.

Dr. Web, as she is called around our house, is an expert in all things medical, and she often consults with my wife, who often reminds me that she did take medical terminology in college (making her almost as much as an authority as Dr. Web). When it comes to Internet medicine, she’s a regular PA (and I don’t mean physician’s assistant, rather, pretty annoying). Together, they assess family medical issues, coming to an agreement on both a diagnosis and treatment plans.

Anyway, her skills and those of Dr. Web have been put to the test lately. Last week my daughter started complaining about stomach pain that radiated up as far as her shoulders. It was worse when she ate or drank, so she simply quit eating. Even that didn’t help. Of course, Dr. Web was on call. The medical experts (that’s my wife and the website) came up with a buffet of possible ailments: gall bladder trouble, panic attacks, lactose intolerance, gas, Hepatitis A, constipation, diarrhea and lots of things that I can’t pronounce, not to mention spell. Together, they decided it was her gall bladder.

I must confess that I have never tried my wife’s doctor of choice, opting instead for the old fashion appointment at the local clinic. But I decided it was worth a try one morning as something wasn’t right with me. As I got dressed, I had this funny feeling on my leg, so I logged on and starting answering questions.

What was affected? Upper thigh, I clicked. Pain or discomfort? I chose slight discomfort. Severity? Moderate or low, I said. Worse with activity? Yes, I responded. On and on the Q and A went. It even asking what happens when I go scuba diving. I don’t know, I haven’t even drank water lately. Finally, I received possible answers to my ailment. According to the good doctor I could have an abscess; it could be dermatitis or shingles, which the site said could be long-lasting or disabling. Knowing that had to be the case, I immediately became depressed, knowing that life would never be the same. At least I had some answers, just like my daughter.

See, Dr. Web and the PA were right about her. A trip to the emergency room, a hospital stay and surgery confirmed the amateur diagnosis — her gall bladder was bad. But me, I’ve over my despair and I’m as good as new, but my confidence in Dr. Web has waned. Further investigation revealed that my devastating ailment wasn’t shingles or dermatitis or even a bug bite, just a fabric softener sheet stuck inside my pants leg. It turns out that Dr. Web doesn’t know everything.

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