Another road trip 10: starting with drama and finishing with a friend.

I started the day off with drama

For me, psychological trauma

But then at the end

I made a toddler a friend

And impressed the papa or mama.

Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, travelled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I am back having adventures in temporary positions until they have an Electronic Medical Record System (EMR) I can get along with. I spent the winter in Nome, Alaska, and I just finished an assignment in rural Iowa. Right now I’m working in suburban Pennsylvania, combining work with a family visit.

Bethany and I boarded the elevator this morning, and another passenger came on.  I looked at his name tag lanyard and recognized the monogram logo.  I looked closer and saw the words “Health Care.”

“You rep for GE?” I asked him.

“Yes,” he answered, grinning.


“Yep.”  He still smiled.

I will confess to evil thoughts that I trace to my involvement with that EMR system.

I fantasized picking my laptop up, throwing it as hard as I could through the glass window and into the street, timed just right so that a speeding semi going 70 mph on a city street would smash it on the grill.

I have imagined walking up to the promotional booth at the American Academy of Family Practice, and starting a strident, offensive series of questions, accusing the rep of complicity with the Forces of Darkness, and I would be joined in a matter of minutes with hundreds of sweating, frazzle-haired doctors carrying signs and chanting louder and louder until, screaming, we dismantled the booth.

Or, better yet, getting a humbled software engineer into the clinic and showing him how badly the system worked and kicking him in the shins and saying, “Why would you bury landmines in a sandbox?”

In the time it took for a hundred things to run through my mind, I decided to say, “I left a job because of that system.”

His grin didn’t dim.  “We don’t sell it anymore.”

I had to stop my runaway emotions in their tracks.  My grim imitation of a smile broadened to genuine and I laughed.  “You absolutely can’t imagine how validated I feel.”  I shook his hand and thanked him profusely.


I can’t write anything specific about the first patient of the day, but I can say things started unexpectedly early with unexpected drama.

After that, the pace slowed till 11:00AM.  While I ended up caring for 39, the majority came in after 5:00 PM.  Poison ivy accounted for half the business, earache for another quarter, and eyes for 10%.

Removing ear wax, making the patient better before they leave, brings me great satisfaction across a wide age range of patients.

But the clinical highlight came with a frightened 20 month old.  I played my way through the exam, I finished with more energy than when I had started, and left the patient more trusting of doctors.  The parent, impressed with my gentleness and patience, gave me permission to write that, and a good deal more.


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