Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Medical Assurance

Alan King used to do great routines about doctors and lawyers and house painters and such, and they were funny.
  An elderly man went to the doctor complaining of aches and pains all over his body. After a thorough examination, the doctor gives him a clean bill of health. 
“Who asked you to make me younger? Just make sure I get older!” 
“You’re in fine shape for an eighty-year-old. After all, I’m not a magician – I can’t make you any younger,” said the doctor. 

It's not as funny, for real, when a real doctor makes a real mistake. My mother, whose health is not at all good at age 88, recently underwent a series of iron infusions to try to get her past the anemia that has plagued her since childhood and is now making things ever more difficult as she battles other issues.  At 88, you need all the strength you can get, that's for sure.

So we were hopeful for good news when we went to see the doctor for the results of blood testing after the iron went to work.  We waited as the med tech took more blood for testing, and soon the doctor appeared, with notebook computer in hand. If you've ever seen the movie "The Hospital," where the bumbling doctor walks into a patient's room, takes a cursory glance at a chart and says, "Well, Drummond, you're none the worse for wear!" and the patient explodes, "I'm not Drummond, you monkey!" then you know how I felt when the doctor knit his brow and pursed his lips and said, "Your mother's iron levels are low...I'm going to recommend that she comes in for some iron infusions..."

And I did not call him a monkey, but I said, "Are you talking about the same procedure she's just had for the past month?"

Oh, how he blushed.  He got all tomato-faced, reminding me of the quote from English temperance leader Clara Lucas Balfour, defining a blush as "The ambiguous livery worn alike by modesty and shame."

But, did he say, "Wow!  Look at me, almost sending your mom to repeat something she already had done!"  He did not.  He stuttered and stammered, "Well, I had not reviewed her files before I came in... I mean...er...uh..."

Not trying to harsh out the good doctor here.  The point is, everyone is going to make mistakes, from the best to the worst of us. (The worst of us just make our mistakes on nationwide TV.) Something they might want to teach in medical schools, yea, in all schools everywhere, is how to be gracious enough to say, "Whoa! I was wrong there!  What I should have said was..."

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Victor Newman!
I can say this because I have a track record of being wrong about things and have learned that it's just best to say so and get things back on the right track.  Like when soap opera actor Eric Braeden (born Hans Jörg Gudegast) told Keith Olbermann that soccer would one day eclipse all other sports in popularity in the US, we're all wrong now and then.  Another piece of advice: if there is a chance that you are going to be wrong, do not be wrong in front of Olbermann.  He is not "Frozen." He will not let it go.

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