Posted tagged ‘the doctor life’

The Creative Mid-Life Crisis

March 5, 2010

        Indie used to say what was wrong was docs was they saw and heard too much.  “We see all this crap and we can’t tell,” he’d say.  “Doctors stuff it all deep down inside, and it has to come out.  That’s why me and you play music.”

        Indie said we played to keep from going crazy, and he always encouraged me to keep at it.  “Bibey, you’re such a d@^# Boy Scout.”  He’d flick a cigarette ash off to the side.  “You don’t need to wind up like me; too much Jimmy Beam, boy.”

        Indie was the most honest doc I ever knew, and I wanted to be just like him.  But when someone came up and offered me a Mason jar of white liquor, he’d shoo them away.  “That’s my doctor, I want him to keep his brain cells.”

        Indie was right about what we see.  It has to come out somehow.  For him it was the fiddle, Camels, and Jimmy Beam, although he remained not only functional but wise to the end. 

        I’ve seen guys who got to my age and went plum crazy.  Some decided they were an overnight expert in the restaurant business and got hosed good.  I knew a few who got hooked on pills (we call it eating the mail, ie samples) and others ran off with some girl half their age.  Now they have toddlers and an angry wife who can’t understand why they are so sluggish.  (It’s ’cause they are old.)

        I knew I had to be more innovative than just do the same old thing that had been done so many times before. My book is my creative mid-life crisis.  I never forget Indie’s lessons. It did have to come out, but it had to be the right way.  That’s why it had to be fiction.  No names, no facts, all truth. If I wrote what I know in a factual way, I would have a swarm of lawyers at my door Monday morning.  Indie taught me better, and that isn’t gonna happen.  I’ve been a doc too long to have to go to work for a living now.

        There’s a reason you don’t see too many doctor books.  Indie is correct. We are taught to stuff it all deep inside, never let it out, and take it to the grave.  I’ve always been one to go against the grain, so this is one time that ain’t gonna happen either.  I didn’t think that was healthy, and besides I thought my non-doctor friends needed to know what really goes on. So, I’m gonna tell.

        I know my story is gonna make a lot of rich people very unhappy, but I don’t care.  I think it’s not a bad mid-life crisis and I’m gonna stick with it till the end.  If I took up drinking now, Indie’ll be mad at me when I get to Heaven, and I don’t want to disappoint him or God either one. 

Dr. B

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Better Keep the Day Job Part Two

October 20, 2009

        The other day I saw two patients who reminded me why I need to keep my day job.  The first one was in for a minor illness.  It was a man I have known a decade.  Years ago our bass player asked us to play a little country church for a covered dish supper.  I love these kind of gigs.  Nice country folks, deviled eggs, homemade pimento cheese, fried chicken.  I’ve never played one I didn’t enjoy.

        A man came up afterwards.  “You really a Doc?”

        “Yes, sir.”

        “You see new patients?”

        “Sure.”

        “If I get sick I might come see you.”

        “Sure, no problem.”

        Six months went by.  One day he showed up at the front desk.  The staff came to ask.  “We don’t have a chart on this man.  He says he saw you playing the mandolin at Creek Side Baptist.  Says he’s got fever and chills.  Probably the flu.  Do you want to work him in?”

        “Sure.”  I don’t always remember everyone who comes up to me when we play, but for some reason this man’s face was as clear in my memory as if I’d eaten breakfast with him that morning.  I could write of every wrinkle but it would identify him, and in the doc business that just isn’t allowed.

        Once he was in the exam room I took a history.  As the staff had said, he had a low grade fever and chills, but no other symptoms.  He had been sick a few days.  His daughter made him come ’cause she said his color looked bad.  When I examined him, I didn’t find much until I checked his abdomen. 

        Uh oh.  He had some kind of mass deep in the in the right side of his belly.  It occurred to me either he had an abscess or something that stood a good chance it was gonna kill him.  I told him of my concerns, but I emphasized the abscess.  That we could cure.

        He went for a stat CT scan.  The diagnosis was a ruptured appendix with a large abscess.  The surgeon said another day would likely have done him in.  As you might imagine, my patient and I are still very good friends. 

        You have to wonder.  What if we hadn’t played the church that night?  This was not a man to go to the doctor every day.  He might have put off the visit, except he thought of me and my mandolin and decided to give me a try. 

        Later that afternoon, I saw a little girl with strep throat.  She was a cute little blue eyed curly blond-haired young’un.  He cheeks were flushed and her eyes were red.  It didn’t take a doc to see she didn’t feel well at all.  “Tell you what sweetie,” I said.  “We’ll get you all well, and then I’ll play some music for you.”

        Her lower lip pooched out and the tears began to well up.  I got a kleenex and dried them off.  “It’s okay, kid.  If you don’t feel like music we’ll let that part go.”

        She managed a smile.  I love our music, and I sure didn’t want to imprint her to be against it.  She’ll be in another time, or maybe she’ll come to the open house for the new office.

        With both patients, I decided I better keep my day job and not turn in my stethoscope just yet.  I think the good Lord sent my man to the only Doc the fellow felt he could talk to, and I sure don’t want to play the mandolin and make little girls cry. 

        Oh well, it works out best for me to be a doctor who is a mandolin player than a mandolin player who is a doctor.  I better stick with what I am.

Dr. B

Nice Guy Syndrome

August 27, 2009

        Just to let y’all know I’m a nice guy if I want to go to the bathroom I have to plan for it.  The journey is a minimum investment of a gauntlet of a dozen questions.  I counted today.  It was one from a patient in the hall who didn’t want to have their blood drawn, one from a rep who brought samples for an indigent patient of mine I was trying to help, two very legitimate questions from nursing about prescription refills (one was a patient who wanted to leave for the beach right now) one from Julius (it was a good one though) one from the front office about a policy concern, one from the appointment secretary about an MRI the insurance company didn’t want to do (it was needed and we won) a call from a friend whose mother was in trouble, another question from a patient in the hall I had already answered twice, and a hug from my mentally handicapped diabetic buddy.  In addition, there two signatures and only one patient stepped on my toe.

        I’m not complaining though.  There is no heavy lifting involved and I am too old for that if there was.  Being a Doc isn’t hard, but it does require some personal patience.  Good bladder control doesn’t hurt either.

Dr. B