Now before y’all get too worked up over my muses and go call the Insurance Commissioner, let me tell you what you read here is only one doc’s opinion. (Might not be bad to consider my thoughts if you have insurance company troubles, though.)
One opinion isn’t worth much, but I will tell you I have tended to my flock of patients without much trouble over the years, and I’ve been able to do O.K. on my Boards too. I wish I could tell you I was brilliant, but I believe writers ought to tell the truth in fiction, and it just ain’t so.
The brilliant ones are rare. They can cite the specific passage in the New England Journal applicable to a given physiological process, and they do so with PC precision. A guy like me remembers which patient he saw, and that he read it somewhere. I guess God put us all here for His specific reason, though.
When one of my patients says something like, “My knee be swolle,” I know what they mean ’cause one summer I worked down at the factory where they gut out a living. It was the year before I sweated out an “A” in fall semester Organic Chemistry. That gig gave me a profound respect for the folks who worked there, and also the incentive to study like a wild man.
When a patient tells a doc their knee be swolle, many a brilliant doc has replied, “Pardon?” and gone back to the Medical Center. If a country doc can yuck it up with a patient who says the word swolle, and talk to the med center guy about persistent patellar crepitus, I reckon he/she is doing their job. (I hope so, it is the only job description my resume ever seemed to fit.) By the way, one time someone asked me to send them a curriculum vitae- what the heck is that?!- I’ve never applied for a job except those summer factory gigs where they said sign here and handed you a shovel.
Maybe it is a bit of cognitive dissonance here, but I kinda like Sir William Osler’s take on all this. He said, and I paraphrase, but this is close, “Seeing patients without reading books is like going to sea without compass, but reading books without seeing patients is like not going to sea at all.” Dr. Bob Leckridge from Scotland is professor and a scholar, not a country doc, but my bet is he’d agree with Doc Osler 100% on that. (I’m gonna tell you though, Dr. Leckridge is a genuine Board Certified Med School Professor Country Doc- my highest compliment. That is a rare breed indeed.)
Anyway, a big part of my attempt to write comes from the desire to make a statement about who I was so when my time here is over my great-grandchildren can know me. What I didn’t figure on was the opportunity to get to know so many other wonderful folks, and learn from them. It has already been a fine ride- I appreciate you going with me. Right quick you learn how much your readers mean to you. Just as patients are to a Doc, without ’em it is time to go to the house. Like the proverbial tree falling in the forest, for a mandolin player if there ain’t no people to hear it, there ain’t no music.
I am at the stage of life where a man tends to reflect back on what he has done. You wake up one day and realize you ain’t ever gonna win the Nobel Prize and whatever you are is about what is was. It is a bit sobering. Some guys go crazy and leave their wives and try to become a race car driver or movie star or something. None of that routine is for me.
I’ve had a few patients think I’m gonna hit the road with my mandolin, but they don’t understand. I play the mandolin so I can keep on doctoring, not to leave it. Besides, I know of at least five players in Eastern N.C. not quite good enough for the circuit who can blow me away. We all gotta know who we are, and I got that much done in life. I got that figured a long time ago.
So, for me, I think I’ll stay a county doc. I’ll take credit for being a solid doc who cares about his people, and who loves to read, but I can’t quite claim to be an intellectual. Besides, if I was, my boys might make me give up my music, and I can’t have that.
My agent warned me against too many jokes, and I agree with him. It can demonstrate a lack of originality- a death sentence for an unknown writer. This one was too good to pass up, though, and I found it apropos to the post on how to deal with the pesky insurance companies, so I hope you’ll forgive me. I won’t make it a habit.
Didja hear the one about the three docs who died and went to heaven?
Well, they got to the Pearly Gates, and St. Peter administered the rites.
He asked the first doc, “What Sir, is your name, and how did you serve?”
“My name is Dr. Bibey, St. Peter. I was a country doctor. I loved my patients, and I tried to treat ’em like family. I warn’t perfect, but I tried my best to do right. I never took anyone to collections, and took care of everyone and let the chips fall where they may.”
“Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter the gates to glory, my son, and you may stay for eternity with your heavenly Father.”
“And you sir?” St. Peter asked the second Doctor.
“My name is Dr. Smith, Sir. I was a surgeon, and I stayed up many a night away from my family to take care of the sick. I was weary my whole life, but I did my best.”
“Well done, my son. Come in my good and faithful servant, you may now rest in peace for eternity.”
“And you sir?”
“My name is Doctor Richman, Sir. I was a cost overseer for Divided Health Care. I saved the company millions of dollars, and the stockholders voted me employee of the year four times.”
St. Peter appeared confused, and leafed through reams of paper before coming upon the name. “Ah yes, Dr. Richman, here is your number. 47TY -88975-H 44. You are pre-approved for three weeks and then you can go to h***!”
Note from Dr. B- I tried my best to let St. Peter cuss for effect, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. He would have been saying that in cyberspace for eternity, and I didn’t want to have to explain it to him someday.
See ya’ Wednesday for my regular post. If I run into something that strikes me before that I might jot down a mini-post or two.
It’s freezing here, but all my friends from up north talk about that eight degree business. My feet are cold here in the South- I have no idea how you guys survive that. Hope springs eternal, though. I’m gonna order me some new grips for my golf clubs, ’cause spring thaw is just around the corner.