Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Trouble with the VA: Men

A man’s a man for a’that.

Robert Burns (1759-1796),  For a'That and a' That

Man is an intelligence in servitude to his organs.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963   ),  Themes and Variations

I would like to talk briefly about something everybody has avoided so far in discussing the VA waiting list scandal,  namely, that trouble at the VA  may stem from the fact that the VA deals mostly with men.

Sure,  more VA veterans these days are women.  But over 90% of VA patients are men.    It is well known that men avoid doctors like the plague for anything short of a gunshot wound as a recent article points out (Anemona Hartocollis,  “With Special Clinics, Hospitals View for Hesitant Patients: Men,” New York Times, May 29. 2014).     

Then there’s the problem of the War on Men, who feminists and the elite say make too money compared to women  and who prey on women and abuse women  emotionally, physically,  economically, or occupationally.  These factors may add to man's guilt about being seen by a doctor.

The trouble is that men do not go to see the doctor, unless it’s absolutely necessary, or until it’s too late.   This may be because  of the male mindset that men are strong, invulnerable, virile, club-carrying  warriors, who differ from women because they are a  testicular, prostate, muscle, or male-hormone bearing.   

Men, to their peril,  do not complain.  They grin and bear it, and they may  not  bare their symptoms until it is too late – until their first heart attack or until the pain becomes unbearable and perhaps I should say, unbareable. 

There is one big exception to this doctor avoidance, and that is the “Low T” , the Low Testosterone phenomenon.   The constant media  marketing of Viagra and Cialis  with images  of virile young man with beautiful young women preparing for copulation, arm in arm, body to body, naked in bath tubs,  fits   awareness of “Low T” to a “T”, even when coupled with  dire warning of the dreaded 4-hour erection.

Back to the VA.  Veterans on those waiting listings may have already waited too long to be seen.   This VA waits superimposed on the male-waits to see doctors may contribute to the mortality among the waiting veterans.  

Aside from the VA's snarled bureaucratic entanglements  and deceptions, which are real, there is another problem, the shortage of primary care physicians and specialists, still mostly men, who prefer private practice to VA employment for reasons based on their personal VA  training and previous VA employment (Hal Scherz, MD, " Doctors' War Stories for VA Hospitals," Wall Street Journal,  May 27, 2014).

Tweet:    The trouble with mortality among veterans on those VA waiting lists may stem partly from the fact that male veterans may wait too long to be seen in the first place.

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