November 17, 2004

Candid yam's

Not necessarily what I was looking for on a Thanksgiving menu, but there you have it, not three blocks from my house. I don't need my yams to be candid; sweet and flattering are fine by me. And I prefer them plural, not possessive. But it's the holiday season, the beginning of the trifecta, and the easiest part: no presents required, no forced amateur-night-at-the-festivities contest, and all the food you can eat, unbuttoned skirts allowed under sweaters. It's a simple occasion to dress for, and, if you dine early enough, you can forgo the cocktail hour, posttime for the alcoholic sweepstakes that starts at sundown.

As for candid, it's a quality I like in a doctor. Like my orthopedist, who admitted today that he had done all he could, and couldn't fix me. I like a physician who knows his limits. I don't care for the ones who think they have all the answers in five minutes to a problem I've had for the greater part of my life. I want to say, guess what? If it were all that resolvable, don't you think someone with your title would have gotten there earlier in my life? I've gone from "why-do-I-feel-this-way?" to "make-me-feel-better-and-don't-make-me-seek-an-explanation-where-I've-lost patience-for-finding-one."

Did I mention I make a terrible patient? My medical history bores me; why should it interest you? And if I have to explain my drug history in detail, well, you're not the doctor for me. Medicine is not my vocation, it's yours. Perhaps I sound a tad cranky here; perhaps 25+ years of intermittent very ill health has made me so.

I prefer older doctors; they know they can't change the world, just make it more comfortable. Younger doctors tend to think if they follow the managed-care guidelines (and I've edited some of those, scared by what is called these days "a decision tree"), they are gold. I don't care how much you've studied if you've traveled down reductionist lane for the sake of your co-payment. Then there's Eastern medicine, which might work from Candide's sarcastic observation ("all is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds"), but I'm a baby boomer, and if I can't have immediate gratification, I want it by Monday. Of this month. Of this year.

At least I'm not a Gen Xer, or Gen Y, or whatever is trailing in their wake. I did not grow up with cable TV, FedEx, and e-mail. I did not grow up with word processing; I grew up with typewriters. The ones at my first job in 1983 were manual, and we didn't have touch-tone phones, much less a redial button or call-waiting or any post-AT&T divestiture options. I could put someone on hold for an eternity, or at least until I'd composed myself with a response that wouldn't get me fired.

I must be getting middle-aged: the "good old days" weren't exactly so, but life did seem easier. Growing up is all about "hurry up and wait." But what were we waiting for?

Maybe the candid yam's will have an answer.


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