A few months ago, I developed red spots on my face and neck that were kind of itchy. After another day or so, the spots had progressed down my torso and onto my thighs, so I decided to go to a doctor. Although I have health insurance, at the time I did not have a primary care physician, so seeing a doctor quickly proved to be difficult. Most everyone I called told me to go the emergency room, a ridiculously expensive suggestion, given that my situation was certainly not a life-threatening emergency. I finally got an appointment with a nurse practitioner at a local clinic. She hurriedly looked at the red spots, pronounced that I had hives, and immediately decided to give me a steroid injection and to prescribe a week-long dose of Prednisone. There was no discussion of reasoning for her prescription, likely symptom progression, or treatment options.
I know that steroids significantly impact my body through increased anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and suppressed immune response, and I was about to leave on a month long trip, so I really didn’t want any of these side effects. I slowed her down long enough to get her to tell me what I could expect if I didn’t take the shot or the Prednisone. She told me the hives would likely progress through the rest of my body, enter my lungs and then cause difficulty breathing, and that I definitely needed both the injection and the Prednisone. By this point, I internally questioned her judgment due to her extreme prognosis and lack of willingness to engage with me, so I accepted the shot and decided to mull over whether or not to fill the Prednisone prescription. That afternoon I spoke with a friend of mine who is an MD (I should have called him first), and he said that I likely would not need the Prednisone and that I should see how it goes for a couple of days. I did not need the Prednisone and the hives disappeared in a week or so.
So why am I sharing this story? In my opinion, health care remains one of the thorniest problems that we face, because even with relatively abundant cheap oil, our current system serves us poorly.