It Can Kill You… or Have No Effect

26 Mar

My wife suffers from occasional “phantom smells,” where she smells cigarette smoke when none exists. Of course, going online for advice doesn’t help, where the end results could be dire… or transitory. Flip a coin.

Any medical professional will tell you, “If you’re concerned, go see a doctor.” Self-diagnosis is usually wrong and observation and tests can eliminate a lot of different things. I remember going into the urgent care about five years ago with what I thought was A.Fib (atrial fibrillation) or erratic heartbeat. Turned out to be gas, but I had been convinced it was A.Fib because I had seeing commercials for medications for that condition the last couple weeks!

But let’s get back to a less dire symptom–phantom smells. Again, it won’t kill you, but it’s annoying. I’m a pipe smoker, so I can tell the difference, and so can my wife. It’s not my smoke, it’s something like cigarettes, but not really. When it happened to me, I got a little freaked out, since I have a lot more personal experience. (Turned out to just be the candles I lit near me going out.)

Checking out the Internet for possible reasons for this weird and annoying symptom, Broward Sinus Doctors list several reasons, the top ones being:

  • Non-allergic rhinitis
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Nasal polyps
  • Tumors

So… it could be a stuffy nose… or cancer. (shrug)

Our family takes its health seriously, but at the same time, we try not to go into the hospital unless it’s a serious condition. As I’ve ranted on before, family practices aren’t, emergency departments are scary and take forever (speaking as someone who worked in several), and urgent cares still take their sweet time. I’ve been to my acupuncturist and my chiropractor once a month; the last time I went to a “regular” doctor was July of 2019, and that’s because I broke my clavicle from a bicycle accident.

Nine times out of ten, you’re going to waste a lot of time, spend a lot of money, just to find out it was nothing. We have emergency insurance because… well, frankly, it’s not worth it pay several hundred dollars a month for nothing. We make too much for Medicare, too little to pay for a decent plan, so it’s either pay a lot for not much or pay when we really need it. Thankfully, my employer has this no-pay, use it only if you’re really sick insurance, which is frankly what we wanted.

So how “chronic” does a condition have to be to make the step inside the doctor’s office? How painful does a symptom have to be to take “extraordinary measures?” What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

And if you need a break from healthcare, I guarantee my books have no mention of hospitals or doctors or insurance in them. My main characters are pretty robust. So why not buy one? Or if you’re paying too much for insurance, and a $1.99 is too rich for your budget, download one of my stories for free!

2 Responses to “It Can Kill You… or Have No Effect”

  1. Silk Cords March 26, 2021 at 7:46 am #

    You hit on quite a few issues here. Drug companies USED TO be barred from advertising for the common sense reason that doctors should actually be the ones prescribing medicines, not hypochondriacs watching TV. Doubly so when the symptoms given are always so general as to provoke concern in normal folks. Dirty money buying influence though…

    As for HMOs and emergency rooms, I have precious little use for them. I’ve blogged about my neck problems and treatment for a while now. Years back, I went to the emergency room for utterly crippling pain there and they treated me like I was a junkie looking for drugs. I got a saline drip and kicked out the door with a large bill. Even some rudimentary investigation should have turned up something wrong. I had to find out it was my neck on my own shortly thereafter (a couple months I think), when it finally popped in the middle of severe pain and the pain ended.

    I know several other people who have complained about just getting the quick, easy diagnosis and kicked out the door also, or just told it’s nothing and dismissed.

    Sadly, despite what some people think, lazy and bum rushed doctors isn’t going to be fixed by socialized medicine either.

    • albigensia March 26, 2021 at 7:58 am #

      I have a similar back problem story. My back went out, I went to the doctor, all they could do was give me pain killers. Went to a chiropractor, felt better within days. Allopaths or “real” doctors focus on symptoms, not causes. They’re limited in their approaches, which is why it’s always important to have a range of options.

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