David Gilet, Byron Bay
All the time I have lived in Byron, apart from one giant health blowout (GHB), all the illnesses I have endured have been medically induced. The GHB first manifested by my starting to loose my teeth. I repeatedly asked my doctors why this was happening and received the verbal equivalent of a shrug of the shoulders in response. It was only five years after being diagnosed [with diabities] that my dentist informed me that my tooth loss was owing to the onset of diabetes, but at the time neither my doctors nor dentist seemed to have clued into this fact.
The GHB really kicked in when I found I had to sleep four hours every day when I returned from my daily walk. When I realised that this was not a temporary condition I made an appointment with my doctor. Unfortunately, on this particular day, my usual doctor was not available so I was seen by a doctor new to the practice. This person treated me as though I was a hysterical hypochondriac and refused to refer me for X-rays or blood tests. As nothing in my condition changed I made another appointment, I saw my usual doctor who ordered both X-rays and blood tests. Two days later I was in an isolation room in Lismore base Hospital. I had been diagnosed with TB, Barmah Forest fever, and diabetes.
At first I was put on oral medicine for my diabetes, but this resulted in two or three years of quite deep depression. I don’t even know which of the medicines prescribed was the cause, but I do know that on the fourth day I started on insulin it was like the sun came out after a couple of years of rain and overcast weather.
Then there arose problems with insulin. The doctor I was seeing led me to believe that the fats I ate were more important than the sugars, and everybody needed to eat some sugar, and to control my sugar intake I just had to take more insulin, with the result that I became extremely overweight.
I then changed doctors again, and to this doctor I would say ‘doctor I don’t understand why I’m overweight because I walk an hour a day and I don’t overeat’. The response was they would adopt a blank expression and avoid answering the question. I used to wonder what they were concealing.
Eventually, I got jack of that sort of treatment and changed doctors again. This doctor immediately referred me to a specialist physician, who then turned me over to a nurse practitioner and under the care of these two people I lost 11 kilos in six weeks.
After this weight loss I made an appointment with the doctor who had been so unforthcoming about the relationship between obesity and the use of insulin.
‘Well David,’ they said, ‘you’re the sort of person that smokes marijuana and then you come in and say “Hey I’m going to India and I need some scripts”. They didn’t actually finish the sentence and I was stunned to silence by the response.
I think they were implying that I was an irresponsible person, which is highly ironic as their treatment of me had been incompetent, uncaring, and irresponsible.