Many who have medical problems go first to a medical professional. Medicine is a fine profession, and it would be wonderful if we could all go to a medical professional with every trifle and get it professionally diagnosed and treated. However, there are problems with this method:

  • There are not enough medical professionals to treat every trifle. This can be unfortunate, since what seems a trifle could be grave indeed: for example, a slight chest pain could in fact be a life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia. However, if everyone went in with every stubbed toe or common cold, then wait times would be absurdly long -- oh, hey.
  • Wait times are absurdly long, at least for a non-emergency. One can suffer for quite a while ere ever getting remedy, especially from a specialist.
  • Professional time is dear, and such trifles waste it.

Rather, however, we could help ourselves, at least with small problems. One still ought to go to a professional for regular check-ups, of course, and for greater problems, and emergencies, but damn it, I can read a drug pamphlet as well as anyone literate, and if I have doubts, I can always ask the pharmacist. Furthermore, I can tell whether a drug is working at once, and choose the one that works best. Knowing some basic pharmacology also helps, but again, that's what the pharmacist is for. Let the medical doctors do the tricky diagnoses and surgery and whatnot and let us dispatch the little problems on our own.

Of course, if we lived in a free country (which mine isn't, quite), we already could.