Friday, August 21, 2015

Being Your Doctor Is...You Pick

Being your doctor is exhilarating.

Everyday I wake up to a schedule brimmed with purpose.  The door of my office is a portal into the richness of the human experience.  I become a thread in the tapestry of other's lives.  I bear witness to the joy and pain, laughter and heartache,  and mundane daily routine.

I spend my days bouncing between art and science.  Paid to be the wily detective, my brain stumbles on detail.  Some cases are typical, quickly resolved with an adjustment here or there.  Others are more enduring, months are spent contemplating the possibilities until answers present themselves.  The sick become healthy.  The terminal are comforted and allowed a soft place to land.

A familiarity grows out of the wisdom of experience.  An acceptance of the limits of human knowledge.  Self acceptance soon follows.  The connection between me and my fellow man is the bedrock of my professional existence. I help people solve problems.

I make a good living.  My title still carries a certain amount of respect.  Job security is a good bet.  And my days are anything but boring.

Being your doctor is excruciating.

Everyday I stare into the abyss of humanity.  I become a party to every patient's agony and despair.   I have witnessed pain and loss that endure.  My mind is scarred from an invisible emotional battle much like the physical ailments of an infantryman.

I am haunted by countless decisions that profoundly affect other's lives.  The devil hides behind every dichotomy.  Poking out it's steely head, waiting to attack the supple underbelly.  I remember each battle lost, each face.  Until the next horrific calamity erases the last.  Over and over again.

I rarely sleep uninterrupted.  My phone rings while I'm taking a jog, in the shower, or on the toilet.  Occasionally a nursing home thinks my mobile is a fax number, and my phone rings over and over again in the middle of the night, waking my family.

I am constantly told that I am wrong by technicians, administrators, insurers, and the government.  I often have to fill out the same paperwork over and over again.  I sign thousands of papers a month for what appears to be no reason.

I often feel crushed by both the enormous responsibility and stupidity that the American healthcare system has placed on its doctors.

Being your doctor is...


James Patrick Murphy MD said...

a solemn oath
a way of life
or maybe both


Janice said...

If your doctoring is half as good as your writing, your patients are in good - and sacred - hands.

Janice said...

One last thought from this non-physician...

If only we all had the opportunity to "pick" the first doctor described. It would be easier to meet him/her in the examining room or hospital if we offered a modicum of understanding and gratitude (albeit silent) in their direction.

PS In "A Lucky Life Interrupted," Tom Brokaw offered this empirical—yet astute—observation (during a medical school commencement address) about the challenges in medicine today...

“…what will not change is that the delivery of healthcare cannot slow or stop while this is sorted out. We’re attempting to change tires on a semi-trailer truck while going eighty miles an hour.”

Christine Loeb,LMFT,RD said...

I suspect both are totes true.
Though(sigh)I would like it presented in the reverse order :)