My friend Jerome

Having jokingly linked to Jerome’s Unemployment Blog yesterday, I now find myself worrying about the poor guy. Not only is he out of work, but he’s sick too. Luckily he seems to have health insurance. His doctor sent him for a CT scan, which made me think that Jerome must be really ill, until I remembered that in the US the structure of the health care system encourages lots of expensive investigations, whether they’re needed or not. Here in the UK, with our socialised medicine, we only order scans for people who we think might actually have something seriously wrong with them.

Anyway, Jerome’s scan was clear (apart from some slight abnormality which he is going to get an MRI scan for – and Americans wonder why their health insurance is so expensive) so his doctor thinks he probably has a gastric motility problem. Obviously it’s difficult to diagnose things over the internet, but I would have guessed that from his original description of the symptoms, thus saving thousands of dollars, not to mention all the radiation he will have got from the CT scan. I would probably have ordered the ultrasound to exclude gallstones though.

I feel like I really know Jerome now, to the extent that I feel able to second-guess his doctor about what might be wrong with him. This despite the fact that he or she is presumably a reputable professional who will have carefully examined Jerome and considered all the relevant data before coming up with a rational plan of investigation, whereas all I have to go on is some scraps of information and my ill-informed prejudices about American health care (which I got from watching ER and Nip/Tuck). Completely absurd of course, but like I said before, the internet is great at producing the illusion of intimacy. I don’t know if Jerome will find my interest in his health a bit creepy, though I would hazard a guess that yes, he just might. That’s what happens if you put details of your personal life on the web for all to see though.

And, Jerome, if you’re reading, listen to what your doctor says, not what some stranger on the internet tells you.

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