Home » Rambles » “Do no harm.” On televisions and junk food in doctor’s offices.

“Do no harm.” On televisions and junk food in doctor’s offices.

Must there be a television in every doctor’s office? Must it be on Jerry Springer or Fox News? Must it be so loud?

Most people who come into a doctor’s office are sick, right? They already don’t feel well. So high energy, high hostility television only makes things worse. The commercials are not only not a respite, they are even louder, even more insistent, even more unsettling than the show itself.

I feel tense when I watch TV. It is like drinking a Doctor Pepper and eating two chocolate bars in ten minutes. I feel all hyped up, unsettled, anxious. It took me a long time to realize that this isn’t a normal way to feel, and that television was a big cause of my unease. It took me a long time to wean myself from the addiction that is TV. I’ve not watched broadcast television for five years. I use the television, sure, to watch movies on DVD. But I don’t watch anything live. And I certainly don’t watch anything where people are yelling at each other.

So going into a place that is supposed to make me feel better and being confronted by something that makes me feel worse feels like an assault.

I understand how people like TV. It is numbing. It is distracting. It takes their minds off their pain. Plus, many people are afraid of silence. They don’t know how to be with themselves. They don’t know how to entertain themselves. So the TV in the doctor’s office makes sense, in a strange sort of way. But while it is soothing to them, it is really disturbing to me, and there really is no middle ground.

I think I’m going to call around for a new doctor and ask if their waiting room has a TV. If not, I’ve found my new doctor.

I wrote this while waiting to get an X-ray for a slipped disc. I wasn’t in the chiropractor’s office, but a separate one. It wasn’t far. Because they do radiology all the time, their prices were cheaper, so he sent me there. I noticed that they had complimentary snacks for while you were waiting. Soda. Chips. Nothing healthy. Even their water was fake. Why not have fruit and nuts? Why not have spring water and fruit juices? Why would you offer people things that are harmful to them?

Perhaps it is because that is what people want.

Doctors need to give you what you need, not what you want. We want quick relief but we don’t want to know how to take care of ourselves. We want to keep on eating badly and smoking and not exercising. And we want to be well. We can’t have it all.

Doctors don’t work around this. Either they don’t know to, they don’t know how to, or they don’t care. Maybe they are frustrated, only treating the symptom and not the cause. Maybe they are stuck thinking the usual way is the only way.

I’m saying that a doctor that gives you bad things isn’t really a doctor. A doctor who treats only the symptom and not the cause isn’t really following the pledge of “Do no harm.”

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