Monday, August 08, 2005

God, the greatest, miracle worker

Yes, that is punctuated correctly. Those of you who know me are probably thinking, "OMG, what's he done now." Nothing, nothing. Only my job. And yet that was enough to earn me those three complements today. It wasn't even, "He's a god." It was, "He's God." The lightning bolt has not struck yet, but let me tempt Him further. If I'm Him, why haven't I allowed Me to win the bloody Super Lotto? Why can't I heal my wife and son of their ailments (not to mention my loathesome summer cold)? Oh, yeah -- I work in mysterious ways. I should know better than to question Myself. Profound question for the evening: why is that the only pronouns we capitalize are for Him -- the Big Guy -- with one exception: I, I, I, I, I? Back to my happy patients. As much as I'd like to believe I'm doing that spectacular a job, I know better. Truth is, many patients (especially those who haven't been burned yet by the medical community) really want to believe this. A German friend once told me that in his country, there's a phrase for doctors: Demigotts im weiss* = demigods in white. Folks want to think we're either channeling God or we have a direct line to Him, no call waiting. It's comforting to think that.
Kevin Sorbo as Hercules: another demigod in white
Scarier is the fact that many doctors believe this, too. Even those of us who understand our limitations have to admit we didn't have the cleanest reasons for joining the biz. Yes, sure, I wanted to help people. But didn't my fear of sickness and death have more than a little to do with it, too? And don't I have (at some level) the irrational idea that my MD gives me a Platinum Card with the Lord? That I can, in fact, put off my own death indefinitely, just by being a doctor? In the face of all this psychological weirdness, it's tough as hell being agnostic. And for you newbies, please don't ask me if I've been saved. So I feel the need to come out and say this, say it in supersized font, even though the folks who read this blog are smart enough to know it already. But here goes. Doctors are human. Pretty scary, huh? D. *Gabriele -- did I remember that right?


Blogger Demented M said...

"Doctors are human"

I know, but most of them don't have the spectacular spirit that you do. Many of them lack simple humanity and a sense of humor.

Please Doctor God, tell me why the good ones are so hard to find?

Particuarly in the primary care practitioner field?

Don't worry, I know you've been my demented blog. Hee-hee :)

I'm in a weird mood today in case you haven't noticed.


8/09/2005 06:24:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Not weird at all, Michelle. You gave me a laugh (and do so on a regular basis -- always a good thing).

Burn-out is a big factor. I wrote about that last week (Becoming Human). In dealing with that problem, the easiest thing to do is cut way back on empathy.

The other factor is economic. Medicare cuts back their payments and all the other payors follow suit. The only way we can tread water is to find new economies in the office or see more patients. Once you've squeezed all the fat out of your practice, you're only left with option #2.

A lucky few in primary care can make a boutique practice approach work, but they're in the minority. And us specialists, particularly in relatively low-paying specialties like ENT (as opposed to plastic surgery, for example) really don't have the boutique option.

All I know for sure is that I'm working harder than ever and making no more money than I did in previous years. This, too, contributes to burn-out.

8/09/2005 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger Anduin said...

I never used to like doctors because every one I went to acted like a cold-hearted freak and I always left their office feeling violated. I have a good doctor now that I can talk to and who listens to me. We don't always see eye to eye, but at least I know he cares about my well being.

I agree with demented m when she talks about your sense of humor. I think it's great and I hope that your patients appreciate that about you.

8/09/2005 08:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Candy said...

If you're God, Doug, years and years from now, will people be hawking little vials of hair, claiming it's the True Backhair of the One Doug? And little metal chips claiming to be from the True and Divine Bluestar 36" Range of the One Doug?


8/09/2005 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Gabriele C. said...

Doug, it's Halbgötter in Weiss. :)

But we don't believe in them any longer, except in some stupid TV series. Too many people have encountered at least stress driven ones wh don't care (not their fault but the system's) badly informed ones (partly fault of the system, partly theirs) and downright drunken idiots (their fault - no stress excuses drinking a bottle of Vodka and cutting the wrong leg off), not to mention self proclaimed plastic surgeons (I blame that on the patients, there are Approved lists and it's the wrong place to save money).

How's that for parentheses?

Since the Jews don't say the true name of their God, can we still call you Doug? Or should it be D-G?

8/09/2005 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

You folks are too funny! Got a good laugh for the afternoon.


PS My Hebrew school teachers all called me Dog (I guess Israelis can't pronounce the 'uh' sound in Doug) so, hey, I'm used to it ;o)

8/09/2005 04:59:00 PM  

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