A little stroll through the aisles of your local pharmacy makes it clear that we have now entered the wonderful world of medical do-it-yourself-ism. There are test kits for everything from warts to pregnancy. DIY health care is sure to save millions of dollars in unnecessary co-pays to doctors, but there’s a darker side to this story.
"Uh, hello? I just used your "So You Think You Have a Brain Tumor" test kit and I think I... What? State my symptoms? Well, ok. Excruciating pain in the left side of my frontal lobe, seeing flashing lights and, oooohhh…paaasssingggg…ooouut…”
“Whoopsie, that was a close one. Now where was I? Oh, yes, flashing lights, vomiting and severe ringing in my ears. The test kit says I most likely have a brain tumor. The cute little picture of the brain turned pink when I…well, you know.”
“What? Cough into the phone? But I don't need to cough? A matter of routine? Alright, if you say so. Aaahemm, aaahemm! I'm sorry, that's the best I can do, I really don't feel a need to cough. It's just that I used your brain tumor kit from the drug store and it came up positive, so I figured I'd better call and find out what to do next before it gets worse.”
“Place two fingers on the carotid artery? I think my arteries are good. It’s just I've got a big presentation due on Monday at work and I don't want to be passing out in front of the suits from corporate, so I... What’s that? Prick my finger and time how fast the blood clots? Are you kidding? For a brain tumor?”
“Hey, wait, is this the right number? I dialed the number on the back of the kit like it said. This IS the right number? And don't forget to sterilize the lancet? Cheesy crackers! What lancet? I don't have a lancet. Can I use a really sharp fork? I've got a really sharp fork here in the drawer, but there's crusted egg yolk on it, can you wait a minute while I wash it off? I'm putting you on hold, don't hang up, ok, don't hang up.”
“You're not ‘programmed’ to hold? Heeey, am I talking to a real person? Well, you don’t sound like it. Ok, ok, don’t get huffy. You say I should use the complimentary lancet in the test kit? I didn’t see a lancet in the box? Oh, here it…yikes, this sucker's sharp! Crap! Can you hold, I just stuck myself with your stupid lancet and… What? Oh yeah, duh, start timing, right. No, I don't have a watch with a second hand. Alright, alright. One Mississippi, two Mississippi…”
“Ok, fifteen minutes and…and…forty-seven seconds. Now what, I‘m getting pretty light-headed here? What? Did I remember to sterilize the lancet? Oh, crap... What’s that you say? For my convenience, there's a nice selection of ‘So You Think You Have Tetnus’ test kits at my local pharmacy? Yeah, thanks, you have a nice day, too.”