First, let me say that millions of people diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC) may be legitimately suffering from a real affliction and are justified in following treatment which amounts to a lifelong reliance on drugs and possible surgery.
But, in my own case, I'm certain that the Doctor who diagnosed the condition in me and the Pharmacist who ghoulishly relished the thought that I would be reliant on prescription medications until the day I die, were in collusion over a non-existent malady, which would allow them to legally soak my medical insurance for years, even decades to come.
Unfortunately, I'm unable to name either person, but, in general, I'm sure this kind of flim-flam is happening all over the world and rivals the scams perpetrated by "Chiropractors" and "Physicians" who treat non-existent back pain, all to the tune of billions of dollars in revenue and the unnecessary subjugation of patients to needless suffering and possibly long-term negative health effects, even unto death.
And, I'll admit, it all came about because my boss warned me that if I called in sick one more time, I'd better have a doctor's note or I would be fired from my crummy, low-paying job.
10 years ago, I worked for a small company in Manhattan which, while paying only ten dollars an hour, had surprisingly good medical insurance coverage. Possibly, it was because the company had been bought up by a huge conglomerate and employees fell under the umbrella of the larger corporate division. All I can say is that employees hired after the takeover were not offered the same plan and had to fend for themselves when it came to finding affordable health care.
At the time, I had a small side business as a Karaoke DJ and a regular gig on Saturday nights at a local bar which brought in another $200 a week. The gig also came with an unlimited bar tab, as well as drinks from customers looking to have their songs played immediately. Needless to say, in no time, I became a drunk. On Saturday nights anyway.
One day the bar owner decided he would move the gig to Sunday night as a way to boost business. At first, I didn't see a problem. But, come the first Monday morning after, the problem presented itself: I didn't have that extra day to dry out and, consequently, I started calling in "sick" on Mondays more regularly.
I'm not proud of it. It just happened. I've never been a big drinker, only doing so in social situations and usually on nights when I knew I could sleep in the next morning.
It didn't take long for my boss to notice the pattern and, one day, he took me aside.
"I notice you've been calling in sick more frequently lately" he said. (We also had a surprisingly decent Sick Day package.) "Have you become allergic to Mondays?" he asked.
I couldn't reveal the real problem, so I said that lately I'd been experiencing "stomach pain" and it just so happened to hit me over weekends. Pretty thin excuse, and, obviously, he didn't buy it.
"Well" he said, "Next time it happens, you better have a Doctor's note telling me you've got a real problem. Otherwise, I'm going to have to let you go."
Well, that put the fear of losing my job (and health coverage) in me, for a while. It didn't take long until I fell into the same pattern and, suddenly, one Monday morning, not long after, I found myself on the phone at 9 AM telling my boss I wouldn't be in.
"Don't worry" I told him, "I'm seeing a doctor this afternoon."
So began my odyssey into a scam diagnosis and exposure to an unethical situation controlled by a corrupt "Doctor" and a cynical "Pharmacist" who had much more on their minds than my health and well being.
That day I made an appointment to see a gastroenterologist who took me in that same afternoon. I won't go into detail about the quality of the evaluation of my condition he performed. But I will say he was much more interested in my bulletproof health insurance, which he soon found out afforded quite extensive coverage and allowed for more involved procedures, including a colonoscopy, at no extra cost to me personally.
Now, bear in mind that I knew there was really nothing wrong with me that a little more sleep couldn't cure. But I also knew I needed that doctor's note to keep my job. The doctor told me he'd like to perform the colonoscopy on Wednesday and that he would call my boss and tell him I was in no condition to work prior to it and that he would authorize a full week off from the job.
A week off! That was like a paid vacation! Needless to say, I readily agreed.
On Wednesday I went in for the procedure, after 24 hours of consuming a liquid protein for nourishment and drinking an entire GALLON of red stuff, which would flush my colon for a clearer picture of my condition.
This is where my local Pharmacist entered the picture.
On that Tuesday prior to the colonoscopy, I presented him with a prescription for the protein drink and the colon flush and he immediately peppered me with questions, guessing rightly I was going in for a colonoscopy and asking me further questions which I thought proper for a professional. But something about his manner at the time threw me off. More on that later.
On that Wednesday the colonoscopy went smoothly and I headed back to the doctor on Thursday for my diagnosis.
He proceeded to show me pictures of the results and pointed out that my large intestine seemed to be inflamed and that he concluded I was suffering from Ulcerative Colitis.
I took the diagnosis with a grain of salt. Remember, I was using all of this as a cover for my sick day abuse and was pleased that a side benefit was a week off with pay. He gave me a prescription for some medication and told me to fill it immediately and begin the regimen. With that he brusquely turned me away and I never saw him again.
Taking the prescription to my Pharmacist was when I began to realize that something wasn't right.
Immediately, his eyes bulged when he saw the prescription for steroid pills and a liquid similar to the colon flush.
"You know what this means?" he asked. I didn't. But he told me. "It means you'll have to take these pills for the rest of your life."
Instead of being solicitous or concerned (I wouldn't have minded so much if he had even PRETENDED to be so) he was clearly delighted and I felt I could see his mind calculating what this diagnosis meant to him: a steady stream of revenue lasting for years. And, probably, that boat he'd always wanted...
I took the prescription and went home. I thought about all of it, especially that I had in essence made up this illness so I wouldn't lose my job.
But it struck me that if I continued to perpetuate this deception I may do real harm to my digestive system.
I took the pills and the liquid and flushed them all down the drain.
The next Monday I went back to work (with a hangover of course) and realized it was far better to nurse a headache at my desk for a few hours rather than subject myself to the craven indifference of medical scam artists looking to pad their own pockets.
Soon after, I stopped drinking and even gave up the side job. And I've never felt better.
What's the moral of this story?
That there are medical loopholes being exploited by health care providers which amount to gray areas skirting outright malpractice. The two "professionals" who used my sick day ruse as a way to enrich themselves probably extends far wider than my own individual circumstance.
I believe that had I continued to fall under their sway, all the while billing my medical insurer at no extra cost to me, I may have actually sickened myself, resulting in a real medical condition which could have caused me harm in the long run.
I often imagine what my life would be like, 10 years later, had I taken the medications regularly, following a course of treatment recommended by established "professional" health care practitioners.
I shudder to think of the consequences and feel truly sorry for others who might have fallen for this same scam over the years since.
In fact, the famous musician Glenn Frey of the Eagles made this same damning claim just before he died of, you guessed it, complications from pneumonia caused by a weakened immune system as a result of his "treatment" for Ulcerative Colitis.
He said years of needlessly taking medications to treat the condition had ruined his formerly robust health. I'm sure he's the most famous of victims and that many more are suffering needlessly to this day.
As I've said, there are probably millions of patients with a legitimate condition requiring years of treatment.
But, if I, a person who was clearly not suffering from Ulcerative Colitis could be diagnosed with the disease, and subjected to a lifetime of corrosive, invasive medications and possibly surgical alternatives, how many others have fallen in to this same trap when simply changing lifestyle habits could correct a minor affliction?
I guess I'll never know. I just wanted to share my story. Hopefully it will do some good.
Before it's too late...
About the Creator
I am a Freelance Writer living in Riverside California who writes on a wide variety of topics including News, Politics, Popular Culture, Science, Music, Fiction, Poetry and Art.
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