I’ve made this contention on several occasions and always get the same head cocked confused half nervous chuckle. “Dr Brian, how do you figure?”
In my practice I see all ages but mainly geriatric patients. There is no end to the amazing diversity of discussions, questions, and odd request that I get from my patients and I attentively try to manage each and every one. I love tackling the enigmatic diagnosis and the satisfaction of relieving someone’s acute symptoms. The challenges of dealing with family dynamics and patient insight is always interesting. I take special pride and honor that Patients trust me and often will call me first with problems and extremely personal issues. They give me the most intimate insight into their lives. A trust and honor that will always make being a doctor a most sacred of professions. After all, doctors are the nosiest people I know.
But day in and day out, my job is pretty routine and basic. I rarely heal people (that’s patients and nature), I just keep them busy while their bodies do all the real work. I have thought this for a long time but have really never known how to say it just right. However, at the blog Musings of a Dinosaur (http://dinosaurmusings.blogspot.com/) I think she said it better than I with her 1st Law:
“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature takes its course.”
I’m always just buying time and trying to keep the patient comfortable and calm. Following my own personal 1st rule: DON’T PANIC. No matter what you do, that is ALWAYS the first rule. I believe this so much that my kids, when asked what’s the first rule will always respond in a monotone unison,” Don’t Panic, dad…” Keep people calm and comfortable and more importantly, distracted. 🙂
I digress and must get back to the reason of this blog. How is a doctor like a theatre usher? All this day to day care of patients is not the most important and satisfying part of my job. That position is firmly held by two things, Birth and Death. Nothing in all of medicine is more fulfilling, amazing, or spiritual than helping to bring a life into the world or to leave it. I do not mean euthanasia before anyone sends me hate mail. I mean the process of comforting physically and emotionally the dying. Standing there at the bedside as someone drifts to eternity and pulls the last bits of air from this world. Due to a malicious and unreasonable malpractice system, I have been robed of delivering babies. Something I just have to accept. Thank heavens I’m still allowed to help the dying. It is the greatest of honors to share in a patients death, especially when it is a good death. Every human dies and only once. When done well, the experience is out of this world.
So, how are doctors like theatre ushers?
My job is to usher people into the show. Help them find their seat and to keep order and calm so they can hopefully enjoy their show. I don’t have anything to do with what show they see. It may be a short film or a marathon epic. It may be a comedy, horror, or amazing love story, but in the end I just try to keep people comfortable during the show. I cant stop them from leaving early, I cant stop others from ruining their experience. I simply use my little flashlight to look for signs of problems and deal with them as best I can. More importantly, when the show is over I gently show them the door and clean up the mess afterwards. After all, we have many more showings to do.
So please remember, the doctor cant fix your life. They can only help make it more tolerable. They can not save your life, they can only allow you to stay till the end of the credits. You eventually will still have to leave the theatre when the lights come up.
Enjoy it and above all…. Dont Panic.