Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman had the misfortune to be struck with multiple sclerosis in 2018. This. is an affliction in which the body’s all-important immune system basically turns on itself and instead of its protective role, attacks the body in diverse ways.

In a recent interview as part of a series on disability Golriz described the idiotic response from her female GP when her problem first arose. Such stories are common and at their root lies a widespread misunderstanding about doctors’ roles and capabilities. The worst incident I ever heard about was a few years back. Pressing one of my older daughters to have a colonoscopy, she sought her female doctor’s opinion. This GP told her I was talking nonsense as women can’t get bowel cancer. For unknown reasons New Zealand has the highest rate of female bowel cancer in the world.

A doctor is accurately described as a general practitioner, which in short, means a generalist. He or she is only trained to deal with the most common everyday ailments.

I once teased a GP mate re doctors’ practises of someone complaining about a pain of some sort and being told to come back in a week if it’s still there. He pointed out that they rarely do for the very good reason that the immune system will have sprung into action and cured whatever was troubling them. But if they return he probes deeper and decides which specialist to refer them to.

Over my life-time some doctors and specialists have saved my life while others through outrageous incompetence have caused me considerable permanent damage. For six decades I’ve worked with a wide range of professionals and woke up early that the vast majority can handle everyday issues but only a few can cope with things out of the ordinary. That’s true of all activities whether tradespeople, professionals or whatever.

We can only wish Golriz luck in handling this affliction which with treatment can generally ensure a normal life for most sufferers. My advice to her though is not to rely on the relevant medical professional she’s dealing with but instead, to stay abreast of the latest MS developments as it’s odds on her professional consultant won’t.


An old friend suffered bad health for about 20 years. Finally a newly qualified doctor suggested that she might be gluten intolerant. She changed her diet. Last time I saw her she was drinking Veuve Cliquot by the bucket load; she punched the air and yelled;
“Fuck, it’s good to be alive!!!”

Doctors have a status in modern society that they never had in earlier times. It is partly justified by their ability to cure more diseases than they used to, but for many ailments the medical solution is little better than that practiced in medieval times. I am sure, for example, people in the 22nd Century will look back on our predominant treatments for cancer (radiation, poisonous chemicals and amputation) as barbaric. I agree that it pays to treat doctors as tradesmen – as good and as bad. I recently took my GP to task for keeping me waiting an inordinate amount of time, pointing out to him that my work was equally as important as his and my charge-out rate considerably higher than his. He was most apologetic and told me that most of the delays were due to the difficulty of getting elderly women to leave the surgery, most of them having turned up for nothing more than a bit of human company.

Incidentally, I wish Golriz Ghahraman well. My sister who has MS and who has managed it successfully for about 30 years recommends selenium supplements – New Zealand’s volcanic soil is very low in this element and it has an important role in coating the nerve endings that become exposed in MS suffers (hence NZ’s very high incidence of MS).

Sounds about right. I’m in good health on the whole. For the last 35 years my GP has been right about 50% of the time. With race now becoming the chief determinant for those getting into medical school, the dumbing down of medical practitioners will increase but we have to get the maori quota up, don’t they, competence be dammed (can’t wait for medical schools’ assessments to be posted).

The worst experts are those who don’t know when they don’t know.

High Bowel cancer levels in NZ is perplexing as if caused by high meat intake for example , why are the Argies not so afflicted?. I suspect they may find the answer may lay in the now found link between Nitrates and bowel cancer. Growing up in rural NZ we put great doses of Nitrogen on the land yearly, to increase grass growth . I even recall top dressing planes flying around dropping it constantly. By logic those nitrates are most likely at high levels in NZ ground water. What would be of interest would be to see the correlation between rural and urban NZ bowel cancer rates taking into account the high production pastoral dairy areas. However besides common sense and logic I don’t profess to be a expert. However I am sure the government could spend tens of millions on grants to researchers who would take ten years to reach a conclusion- for it to go to 5 working committees to study and order 4 peer reviews . Only for drug research to overtake it and the research conclusion action plan to be dropped, as taking some pills takes care of the problem for less cost.

I am pleased to read your comments because they always constitute fact. I read stuff for amusement as a result of the childish, illiterate stuff they try to sell.

Good advice.
The uneducated masses have far too much trust in GP’s. Just like lawyers there are very good ones and very average ones.
You need to case manage your own health because regardless of who you are or whether you are navigating the private or public system, no one will ever care more about your health than you should.

So true of doctors and all other service providers. The best advice, if you find a good one in the long run its worth paying more to keep them.

I prematurely lost my mother to a curable cancer, when her own GP was a cancer survivor himself. Sadly, this extends to some professionals in the hospitals themselves. A byproduct of the best (for the most part) following the money to private (overseas) hospitals. I suppose who could blame them, with the opportunity costs of training.

GP’s, and the private clinics they work for, is very little about health now, and more about the money. If you’re not getting through the patients, you’re confirmed to the waste bin. And there’s no coincidence they will pedal you no end of drugs; when there are natural solutions out there, because again its all about the money.

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