Every so often and for reasons I don’t fully understand, I reminded that I’m a physician. I won’t get into a discussion on saying physician versus doctor as it can get heated and that’s not the point of this. I’ve been in some aspect of healthcare since 1997 and an MD since 2004, but most of the time it isn’t necessarily something I think about. I am a physician. It is what I do. It is part of what I am. As there are the jokes about people and their pets looking like one another, perhaps what we do helps to change us, that it is no long a job but part of our personality. Or maybe it was our personality to begin with that led us to our job. Chickens vs eggs throughout our lives.
I go to work. I teach when I can because that’s also part of who I am. And I go home to be on call. At work I am reminded of my title when people say “Dr. Chaudhari” or “Doctor” but maybe because it is at work that I’m not thinking about it so much. The other day I was picking up a prescription and while I was waiting I was absorbed in a book. The pharmacist only called out “Doctor” but I immediately came alert and turned toward him. My title must have been on the prescription or maybe it was in the system. I usually try to hide who I am in public. When initially asked many times I do respond with the title “Teacher”. And I mean it. Doctor in latin means “to teach”. As a pediatrician I considered the number one aspect of my role was to teach. Specifically I mostly do that teaching to the parents, not the patient.
Of course there is nothing to be embarrassed of which leads to the title switch. The problem is that usually once someone knows my title, their perception changes, whether it is on haggling for a purchase or even in a conversation. Once my title is known what I am comes to replace who I am. I am not what I do. But what I do is mostly definitely part of who I am.
Titles can help and hurt. At work it is needed to get the work done. That’s a given. You could be cuckolded at home yet be a CEO of a large corporation. The title of that job sure isn’t helping at home and maybe it’s the title and what comes with it that is causing the marital problem to begin with.
I am a hypocrite though. I can’t honesty say that I’ve never used my title outside of work and for my own benefit. I’ve used it for other people’s benefit and I’m usually ok with that if it was warranted but for myself I do feel guiltier. I have used it calling an insurance company to fight a charge or get it paid faster so the place I went to doesn’t send me a bill. I’ve used it with another insurance company to get them to pay for something they supposedly said they would pay for (it eventually worked once I got a hold of someone who knew what they were talking about.). I’ve used it when I was out and as usual, not dressed like a physician and I was being talked down to. I’ve been told by others that at times I may not use my title but I slip into “Doctor mode” when my attitude changes from usual passive to commanding and authoritative. Yeah, that idea shocks me too. I’d almost like someone to record it just so I can what it looks and sounds like.
I could go on and on with my personal thoughts on where medicine was, is and seems to be headed but I’m not.
Stick a fork in me, I’m done.
-Santa’s Fallen Angel
There are two phrases or ideas that I use quite frequently. One very satirically to those that know me well enough but that could also be taken as very condescending to those that don’t know me well. The first phrase is “I’m a doctor” or “I’m a trained medical professional.”
Generally this is used to self-deprecate in a situation where I may have said something witty or smart or even both. Truth be told I don’t consider myself witty or smart. What I do is part of who I am and I know a whole lot of people much smarter than me. When I’m asked what I would do in life if I wasn’t a pediatrician, I could come up with other things I’d like to try but really, I think I’m actually good at what I do and I enjoy it.
Yeah, I wish medicine was equal to the idea of what most of us thought we were signing up for. You know, time to spend with patients, being able to educate as much as needed, great follow-up, and a medical home. Not the 10-15 minute visit with little time to educate as needed and a follow-up that is with someone in a group of a practice that might not even be the one they normally go to. Stupid soapbox, time to step off.
Anyway. This phrase must come naturally and quickly in order to be effective at its intended goal of generating humor. If said in a condescending manner then it and I failed. An example could be something as simple as someone asking a medical or non-medical question to which I could actually generate a true answer or hypothesis. If there is a double take or follow-up statement of “How’d you know that?” and if I’m quick enough I can then quickly retort, “I’m a doctor.” The other medical retort, “I’m a trained medical professional,” I’ve only started using recently and while it can be used synonymously I’m trying to ascertain if it should be or have its own time and place. Time will tell.
The second phrase is “Because I Can.” Now one may think this is a quite simple phrase/idea but I find that it is very deep and soul stretching. This is used in many more types of situations. Why donate money? Why give food out to someone homeless? Why help someone load their items into their truck? Why spend time doing whatever? Why give to my friends? “Because I Can.” You see how this works? This also applies to why a certain trip is taken or skydiving or scuba diving or anything else of that nature as well.
I see this abstractly as a symbol of power. And as such, not sarcastically, it can be used for good or evil. I think and hope that I only use it for good such as the examples above. Now there is that flip side. Why not steal that item? Why not lie this time? Why not just enjoy myself be damned the consequences to others? You can also answer these with “Because I Can.” And therein lies the moral heart of the phrase.
I stop here not because I can’t write anything else but because writing more may just rob one’s own thinking of the depth of this.
-Santa’s Fallen Angel
as a hypothetical situation i was pondering (fancy for i caught myself woolgathering)…
for those of you with a child or someone you care about, how much are they worth to you? yes really. think about it. i’m not asking about a specific material object or monetary quantity. i would think most people couldn’t answer that question. many people would answer that they would do anything and everything they could for that person, possibly including their own life. that’s a pretty big sum all by itself wouldn’t you say? you want to be there for this person. you try to provide for them. you want to be there through good and bad. what would it be like if they weren’t there anymore? something beyond your control took them away or decreased your connection. this could be getting married, moving away, a fight, and yes even death. a hole now in your life and in your heart. an emptiness you may never recover from again even with all the possible substitutes you will try to fill it with.
now let’s switch gears to the pondering, yeah, that stuff i wrote wasn’t it…
at the same time we want to protect them, have you thought about how much you are worth to yourself? yes, yourself. is the sacrifice you are making a good sacrifice? is it worthy of them? you probably would agree that you want to be there if they get married, get sick, and make accomplishments to give you a smile.
what are you doing to make sure you will be there? how is your health? are you taking care of yourself? eat a lot of bad food? how much time are you spending with them? are you a smoker? heavy drinker? are these things worth it if they take you away from them? they won’t have you around to see them get married. you won’t be there to make them soup and rub vicks on their chest. you won’t be there to smile when they do something that would have made you proud.
while not a big believer is new year’s resolutions as we should just live right to begin with, maybe this is one i could get behind. we have parents or siblings or children and if you don’t have them, you probably aren’t a hermit if you are reading this so you probably have at least one friend, that person that might actually give a damn that you aren’t around anymore. i already determined this is the Year of Me. i need to prove to me that i’m worth it. improving me will help me to be there for my mother, for my nieces and nephews and if it happens, i’ll be around for my family. there might even be that side effect of having a better quality of life, less injuries and pains and overall improved happiness.
if you haven’t thought of your worth before, i hope you are thinking of it now.
-Santa’s Fallen Angel
Just got back from Sandia after a snowboarding lesson. The last lesson I think was about two years ago. As I realized I was a closet masochist to keep getting up again and again, I had a flashback memory when I had heard someone mention they thought they “broke their ass.” Coccyx sure but not that often. Not being slim these days and relying too much on my backside padding I hoped I would be ok. I confess that I had a moment after countless falls where I was hurting so bad I had my own thought, “my ass is broken.” Startled by the thought and the pain I chose to lay there for a short time contemplating on what I had done to myself and why I was continuing on. Thankfully the two high schoolers in the group seemed to be in similar conditions and I was able to push through and past and rise again. I’ve got my PADI, I’ve been free fall skydiving twice (not tandem), and I have a motorcycle. Am I not badass enough yet?! (Disregarding the one I have now broken.) The simple answer is No. I made it through most of the class until both of my legs started cramping, my hands were cramping, I was feeling shin splints, my asthma was acting up, and I continued to feel little and big muscles cramping around the body that I hadn’t remembered since anatomy. As my newly discovered masochistic personality exerted itself one more time I realized that I actually had fun and I will probably be happy that I have two more lessons coming up once the pain isn’t so bad. Thankfully I will be having good food tonight and alcohol, medicinal of course as an internal anesthetic, and will try my best to ignore the pain that is currently wracking my body trying to contort me into some shape only known to Escher. And for anyone that has a large enough shower, I fully and whole heartily advocate for a teak stool to be able to sit on and relax on while being under the spray. A poor man’s sauna but still quite effective.
-Santa’s Fallen Angel