Saturday, April 14, 2018

What's Been Left Out

Would You Do It Again?

Over on my other blog, every Monday, I write Good Decision/Bad Decision posts.  The idea is to dissect a decision, usually financial, from various viewpoints.  Nothing we do in life is truly good or bad, there are always consequences.  This week, I am going to tackle something a little more personal.  Should I have gone to medical school?

This question is fraught with emotional pitfalls.  How could it not be?  From the moment I can remember, I have wanted to be a doctor.  It has been with me for every breath and aspiration.  Now at the age of 44, Almost twenty years into my career, I can't help but look back and wonder.  Was it all worth it?

What's Been Left Out

I love being a doctor.  There are so many insights that I have gained by being on the edge of life and death with my patients.  The privilege is such, that even my aptitude for verbosity, only manages to scratch the surface.  I live a charmed life.  I have been lucky.


Remember that when someone follows a statement with the word but, it means to forget every idea that came directly before.

But, this profession has cost me dearly.

It has cost time and money, strength and energy, character and innocence.  I am not the man I once was.  Not the man I would be if I chose business or law as my profession.  There are many roads in life, who knows who we would have become if we chose the path not taken.

I know This Much

Medicine has hurt me.  It has ruined my body and mind.  I wake upon every morning fifteen years after residency with a shattered sleeping pattern.  I go about my day immune to the everyday suffering of those around me.

You think... is bad.  You should see the young guy I am taking care of with pancreatic cancer.

I am impatient.  Very impatient.  Trained from years of arguing, demanding, and doing whatever it takes in minute allotments of time, I can barely wait in the grocery line without bursting into flames.

And I am cold.  So cold.  Frigid.  Wrapped in the blanket of ice of self protectionism.  Surrounded by walls built and shattered so many times that there strength has doubled from scarring.

You only have to feel responsible for one death.  Only have to watch the tears of one family for a few minutes.  Then try that a hundred times.  Maybe more.  Unlikely less.


We can't undo our decisions.  I cannot just stop being a doctor.  The practice of medicine is what I do,  but quitting cannot unmake who I am or what I have endured.

Medicine is a privilege.  The ultimate privilege.

But it comes with an unbearable cost.

How the hell do I know if I would pay it again?


Julie Saeger Nierenberg said...

Great post, Jordan. Honesty that rings loud and true. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

impatience. thank you for describing what I have been experiencing -- as the patient. gee, are there any satisfied doctors out there? spend a couple of days on google and twitter and I avoid going to my doctor. I figure out my own dose of lasix and when my feet cramp up all night I figure maybe I've gone too far!! I'm afraid of contacting any of my doctors for fear that I'm the one who will push them over the edge.

What a mess. I wish you the best.