Art and Science

        Medicine, at least primary care on the front lines, is a strange mixture of art and science.  There is no question that science tells us the statin medicines lower cholesterol and can reduce the risk of ischemic heart disease.  On the other hand, if a middle aged male smoker comes to the office to get a prescription for Viagra, convincing him to take a pill to statistically reduce his risk for a heart attack over the next decade is an art.

        Once I went to a big doctor meeting in Raleigh.  There was a writer’s convention at the same hotel, and when I checked in and told the clerk I was in for the convention, she asked which group I was with, the doctors or the writers.  I guess the guitar strung over my shoulder threw her off.  Perhaps it was my acute need of a haircut.  As my mama would say, I was looking woolly.

        When I told her I was with the band,  she said they were staying next door at the EconoLodge.  I confessed I was a Doc, so she gave me a room. 

        Unless you are a very famous musician, you are often treated with suspicion.  It is a prejudice I have never understood.  Often we have played a gig, and a mom will bring her child up front, and point us out.  “See the banjo player, honey?  Now, don’t get too close.”  Sometimes it makes you feel like an Appalachian monkey at the zoo.  

        A friend of mine who is a Doc, and a fiddler in Tennessee, has said we are doctors trapped in an artist’s mind and body, so maybe we’re cut out for the job. 

        By the way, my patient went home with two meds, a statin and Viagra, with advice to quit smoking and to be careful with that blue pill at his age.  We talked about music most of his visit.  I guess I did my job as a country doc, ’cause he was happy.

Dr. B

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