Cycles of hope and disappointment: life and death for the economy, function and movement for a friend, and employment in December.


Turning from disappoint to hope

An agency is trying to cope

    Opportunity friction

    The economy’s malediction

A depression has started down slope

Synopsis:  I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa.  While my one-year, 30-mile non-compete clause ticks out, I’m taking a sabbatical and having adventures.  My close college friend, Bob, is recovering from surgery in San Diego, following the explosion of the disc in the mid back.  He faces the possibility of paraplegia.  I’m taking a week to visit and advocate for him (and Bob insists I add ..and be his consiglieri).

Bob got moved from the rehab hospital to the acute medical hospital yesterday.  Corticosteroids for the spinal swelling make his blood pressure labile and his blood sugars run out of control.  He developed diarrhea, possibly because of medications, diet, or infection.  His MRI showed a possible abscess near the surgical site, he’s getting high potency, broad-spectrum antibiotics.  So much happened medically that he couldn’t benefit from therapy.  The set back was hard on him.  Still, the motion in his left leg is improving though he still lacks feeling.

We’ve talked about writing.

Win Blevins, a friend and a real writer in Wyoming, said that the people who should write are the ones who have to write.  I’m one of those.  I’ve always written, sometimes better than others.  Bob has written sporadically over the years, convincingly and cogently.  We’ve served as sounding boards for each other’s writings for decades.  Bob is making plans now for more writing in the future, and I think he’d be good at it.

I’m negotiating in the hospital here as a civilian, not as a doctor.  I get to suggest a thyroid panel here and a probiotic there, but I don’t write orders and I don’t mind.  I have to enter the hospital by the afterhours entrance near the ER and ask directions to get to the elevators; I park half a mile away and walk past the lots that require a card or a sticker to get in or ward off the tow trucks.  I get to see the health care system from the consumer’s point of view, not the doctor’s.

With Bob’s life-and-death drama playing out foremost in my attention, I’m still trying to arrange work in the background.  Locum tenens agencies (the folks who get docs who want to work short term in touch with the people who want to hire them) vary in quality, and the recruiters who work for them vary in professionalism.   I’ve accepted fifteen jobs so far, and all but three have conclusively fallen through.  I accept the uncertainty inherent in the business, but the roller-coaster ride of hope and disappointment continues.

One of the Nobel Prize Winners in Economics announced today won his honors by studying “opportunity friction” and its effect on the economy; his area of expertise covers the problem of getting willing workers to appropriate jobs.  One would think in the Information Age such difficulties would have disappeared.  (Bob here is quite emphatic I mention that we’ve started into another Great Depression).

Having missed out on an opportunity in Alaska, I’m hopeful for a place for in December in the rural Midwest.


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