Sunday, May 23, 2010

Damn Doctors

It was a lovely balmy early summer night: warm, low humidity and the bugs had yet to discover the temperature. A soft breeze blew and maple seeds spun gently down from the tree above propelled by the warm summer breeze. Like a hole in one, one landed in the pitcher of green tea on the table. We smiled. No one cared. After all, the chance to sit, relax and spend some time in idle conversation with your loved ones made the heaven-sent particulate matter floating on the surface of the tea seem appropriate. Still, my son couldn't stand it any longer and reached into the pitcher to snatch the seed from the tea's surface. Seeing this, I asked for another refill of tea and he was only too glad to ablidge, smiling.

Before long, it was time for her to return home, well before the sun set so that driving remained safe. It was our tacit agreement. Her cautious steps from our front porch reminded me that these moments were finite. My wife and I walked with her.

"Thanks for that wonderful dinner. It's so nice just to be here and listen to the kids adventures," she whispered. Her mind roamed and she focused on the task ahead. After all, she was heading back to her independent living facility with her Labrador in the back seat. She thought about her friends there. Her mind wandered back to our conversation about hosting the movie tomorrow night.

"You know, I hate the way everyone thinks doctors are just in it for the money. That's what all the seniors say, you know." She walked to the far side of the car. "I hate that."

She checked the back seat and saw that her Labrador had made herself comfortable, smiled toward me as she opened the car door, then sat behind the wheel. She waved with her fingertips as she put the transmission in drive, then shouted, "First, to Starbucks for a cup of Joe for the road." Off she went. Not bad for eighty-three, I thought.

I walked back to the house, pondering the words from my faithful familial reporter. My wife, who joined us and heard it all, said nothing. She knew I was thinking. I placed my arm around her shoulder and walked back to the house, wondering what I should write.


Better to say nothing.

Instead, an image came to mind: a nurse, holding a hermetically-sealed Tylenol tablet in an airtight wrapper labeled with a bar code. Her hand shooting a red light toward the wrapper from an apparatus resembling a 1950's TV ray gun attached to a mobile computer terminal with flat-panel display and mobile battery pack attached. A chirp. Keyboard pressed. Time logged. Record updated. The white pill dropped in a tiny plastic medicine cup.

Then the single $10-dollar Tylenol tablet is dispensed to an outstretched hand.

Who pays for all this ridiculous gee-wizardry all in the name of safety, profit and convenience?

Damn doctors.



Anonymous said...

Try to feel better, doc. Here's one senior who doesnt think you're in it for the money.

Thanks for a job done well and thoughtfully. Not fond of your politics, but you're worth much more than you are compensated by medicare.

Andrew_M_Garland said...


Government is the ideal director of medicine. Politicians are thoughtful, caring, and altruistic. They devote their lives to helping others.

Contrast this to Physicians, who spend half their lives learning diagnosis and complex, delicate procedures, with the intent of charging sick people for these services.