Celebrating Modern Healthcare

Modern medicine is truly futuristic.


I'll be spending this week in London so I'm writing this email while flying some 11,000 meters (36,000 feet) meters above the Baltic Sea at a speed of ~840 km/h (520 mph). I wonder how many emails are being sent from that high up. Love airplanes.

Last week, I was on a medical exam spree. It started with an EEG on Monday and ended with an MRI on Thursday, with a few fun things in-between. The verdict? This is the ideal male body. You may not like it, but this is what peak performance looks like. And my brain's in the right place.

This gave me an opportunity to reflect on modern medicine and healthcare:

Modern medicine is truly futuristic. For EEG, I had to sit in a dark room with 10 electrodes glued to my skull while they blasted various patterns of bright light into my face. At times it felt like piloting a fighter jet above the Alps or flying through a space-time rift aboard Sanctuary III. For MRI, I spent half an hour lying inside a massive magnet in the middle of a brightly-lit room lined with white plastic. The machine sounded like a mix of an industrial robot and an alien spaceship, and can apparently cost up to a few million dollars. It's crazy how complex and expensive these things are, yet they're so common nowadays.

Affordable healthcare is a blessing. I paid about 250 EUR total for 5 different exams. The MRI alone cost me 159 EUR. The EEG was 4 EUR. It felt wrong to pay this little for EEG, and yet I could've waited a few months and gotten all of them for this price thanks to socialized healthcare. I just don't like waiting so I paid for some of it out of pocket. Yet I can imagine a different scenario: one where even 250 EUR was too much (it's a lot of money for a lot of people), or one where I needed a treatment that cost 10x, 100x, 1000x that amount. Knowing something's wrong with your body and being unable to afford to do anything about it is a nightmare.

Soft skills aren't just for managers. The ultrasound doc spent 30 seconds scanning my elbow, said something along the lines of "yup see this nerve here gets displaced when you bend your elbow so it can get inflamed ok you'll get the report at the reception bye", and started heading out. I felt a bit short-changed, so I caught him with a question and got him to scan my other elbow. It looked the same, so "it's probably genetic but you can talk to a surgeon if it causes problems and try not to do rowing now really bye". Good enough for me, but I can imagine feeling ripped off after paying out of pocket for exactly 30 seconds of attention and near-zero personal touch. An extra minute of treating me like a human being would've completely turned that experience around.

People like to complain about our healthcare system, and there are valid reasons for it. But it's far from being the worst one out there, and I'm glad I can spend half an hour inside a million-dollar Wonder Machine and only pay a few hundred EUR in the worst-case scenario. Bless modern affordable healthcare.

A few thoughts

Contrasty weather is the best. Last week I complained about April being too warm and summer-like. This week has been perfectly fresh with chilly winds mixed with warm sunshine and a blue sky interspersed with dark clouds small enough to provide contrast, but not be a nuisance. Contrasty. Love spring.

Embrace your inner clown. An ex-colleague shared this: "I'm looking at your Insta content and thinking - I really didn't know and see the actual Martin when I was working [with you] 😄". While I haven't fully reconciled my personal-professional divide yet, I'm working hard on being myself as much as I can. If that means clowning around, I'll do it. It's a more enjoyable way to live a life.

Loved reading this

The Unbearable Heaviness of Being Positioned "Risk is at the heart of Positioning. When companies have more to lose, they tend to become more risk averse. It’s understandable, but companies need to realize that they’re taking a big risk by avoiding taking risks."

When Interfaces Kill: What Really Happened to John Denver "John Denver learned the biggest lesson of all, even if he only had a few seconds to appreciate it: Let the User Beware!"

Brain Images Just Got 64 Million Times Sharper "Some of the key ingredients include an incredibly powerful magnet (most clinical MRIs rely on a 1.5 to 3 Tesla magnet; Johnson’s team uses a 9.4 Tesla magnet), a special set of gradient coils that are 100 times stronger than those in a clinical MRI and help generate the brain image, and a high-performance computer equivalent to nearly 800 laptops all cranking away to image one brain."

The end

While I did write this one on the plane, I'm sending it out while sitting in my London hotel. Just wanted to be fully transparent with you.