Even though I've been driving for several decades, I will confess that I barely have a clue about how an internal combustion engine works. I know that there are pistons that move in cylinders due to contained explosions of gasoline caused by a spark plug, and there is a lot of other, uh, stuff in there, and...well, that's about it. So whenever I have car problems, I take it to a mechanic. He's an expert and knows how this complicated machine works, while I just don't. If he tells me that I have a problem with a caliper, pump, gasket, belt, or flux capacitor, I have little choice but to believe him. I'm not saying I'll trust everything he says implicitly - if I have any doubt, I'll call a second opinion (my brother, who has literally disassembled and reassembled several engines), and if he and I think the mechanic is taking me for a ride (pun intended), I'll find a different guy. But if it's legitimate (and it invariably is), I keep my mouth shut, whip out my credit card, and wonder how many of the mechanic's mortgage payments I'll be making this time.
"Is this really a post about cars? I didn't come here to read about your damned car troubles, Doc!"
Fine, I'll get to the point. It's not my fault you're so impatient. Anyway, if you think a car engine is complicated, it's a cakewalk compared to the human body. See, I told you I'd get to the point. I know how the human body works and what makes things go wrong, and the vast majority of people don't.
So why do so many people question me?
Several months back I took care of a young man who was involved in a serious car accident involving speed, youth, alcohol, and a dash of stupidity. His only serious injury was a very small bruise in his brain which was immediately diagnosed with a CT scan. I repeated his brain CT the next day, and it looked completely stable with no signs of worsening. The treatment for this type of injury is time and physical therapy, and most people recover fully, spending only a few days in the hospital. Initially he could barely talk, but after a few days he started doing much better; he was talking, eating, and walking, and he looked about ready to go home.
That's when I got the inevitable irate call from Doctor Mom. She had apparently heard of my plans to send him home in a day or two, and as soon as I said "Hello" (at 10 PM, no less), she launched into her enraged verbal assault.
"HOW CAN YOU BE SENDING MY SON HOME? YOU HAVEN'T EVEN DONE AN MRI! HOW DO YOU KNOW HE'S NOT BLEEDING IN HIS BRAIN!"
I very calmly tried to explain that his repeat scan was stable and he was doing much better, and that
is how I knew there wasn't any further bleeding. She immediately calmed down, thanked me, and said...oh, who am I kidding? My rational thinking did absolutely nothing
to calm this irrationally crazed woman, who relentlessly continued her attack.
"WHY HAVEN'T YOU DONE AN MRI? YOU DON'T KNOW HE ISN'T BLEEDING BECAUSE YOU HAVEN'T LOOKED! HE NEEDS AN MRI! HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A DOCTOR??"
My wife unfortunately overheard her enraged ramblings, and I nearly had to restrain her from grabbing my phone and yelling at her and calling her a lunatic. I again calmly explained that an expensive MRI wasn't necessary, because clinically he was doing fine. And even if I had suspected anything wrong, which I didn't, a CT scan would be a much better, faster, and less expensive test. But even if
I ordered an MRI and even if
it showed a bruise, it wouldn't change my care plan one bit because clinically he was doing so well, so why even order it?
"I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU HAVEN'T ORDERED AN MRI!"
You get the point. This back and forth continued for over 20 minutes, with me calm and rational, her...not so much. I continually had to resist the urge to ask her where she went to medical school and did her trauma training. Finally, unsatisfied, she let me and my wife go to sleep. Shockingly, her son was doing even better the next day, and I sent him home, right on schedule. He did NOT
get an MRI.
I would never dream of questioning how tight my mechanic is tightening the bolts on my car's engine or what type of wrench he uses, or if he installed my serpentine belt correctly. At some point I have to realise that this person knows a lot more than I, so I just need to shut the hell up and let the expert to his job. So if you have questions, please ask
. But then after I explain things satisfactorily, unless you happen to be a trauma surgeon, shut the hell up and let me do my job.