Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Recipe

Take one part highly inflammable surgeon. Add a dash of chronic worry, a well-rounded tablespoon of sleep deprivation on call, and stir vigorously with an enormous slab of hospital inefficiency. The cherry on top? That would be ongoing concerns about government regulation compliance, increased taxes on my small business, Medicare payment games, and the Kabuki theater known as Obamacare. That would be my recipe for one, well, aggravated surgeon. To make this situation really cook, however, increase the on call load by having one physician leave the group (and act like a total rectal-discharge-head on the way out). Voila! Aggvavated DocSurg flambĂ© ! C’est magnifique!

What was not so magnifique was my blood pressure, weight, and stress. Think of Ox in Stripes.

"Well, my name's Dewey Oxburger. My friends call me Ox. I dont know if you've noticed, but I got a slight weight problem.....When I was younger, I swallowed a lot of aggression...along with a lot of pizzas!!"
A few changes were in order if I was going to avoid sharing John Candy’s fate. Trying to put one’s time in order when working in a field where a predictable day is a false hope has always been one of my biggest challenges, but I was able to make a few adjustments over the past few months. Activities that helped decrease stress were put on the front burner, and those that simply added consternation with no discernible benefit were dropped faster than you can say “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Or something like that.

What went out with the screaming baby and the bath water?
  • Any hospital committee that I wasn’t absolutely required to be a member of.
  • Any meeting with hospital administrators that was unscheduled or open-ended. No agenda and no clear reason to be asking for my time? Then sayonara, baby.
  • Any time wasted in my office waiting for patients who cost me money, i.e. Medicaid patients, who fail to show up on time. I cannot afford the expense or aggravation involved in trying to work in someone who shows up a half hour late for a scheduled appointment, but whose insurance coverage pays so little that I lose money seeing them to begin with.
  • Any time sitting in the surgeon’s lounge bitching about Obumblecare, politics, hospital administration, and healthcare in general. Wasted words, as Mr. Allman would say.
  • Potato chips. Worse than crack cocaine for me.
  • Orchestrating OR schedule contortions worthy of a pretzel maker in order to accommodate every patient’s request. I try to make things work as well as possible, but it made no sense for me to go to three different places to operate in one day, doing a single case at each location, and racing across town to be on time.
  • Any time blogging. Not really a conscious choice, but I needed to quit bitching here too.

What went into the mixing bowl?
  • My mountain bike. Specifically, I have tried over the past 5 months to get outside and ride at least 4 times per week. This means lunchtime rides on office days whenever possible, and using any other available time on OR days. I had to carve an extra hour out at lunch and run my office later, but it has been worth it (especially when it was snowing).
  • Travel. SWIMBO and I took the Surglings on a long-awaited trip to Rome & Paris. Simply fabulous.
  • My books. I love to read, but have felt that the time I had available to dip into a good book had evaporated. Made time, read some good books, and then the Surglings bought me a Kindle --- I now have a new version of crack cocaine. I have enjoyed Vanished Smile, The Gardner Heist, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, the "Dragon Tattoo" trilogy, and Fire among others this summer.
  • Music. My younger self spent waaaaay too much money on vinyl and concert tickets, but I enjoyed every bit of it. So I have spent time spinning old records and seeing a few concerts --- there is nothing that can compare to an evening at Red Rocks.



But....I haven’t received the miracle cure. I remain, after all, aggravated at my core. Which means that while I haven’t necessarily posted anything, I have been keeping notes. Taking down names. Reading BS journal articles that whose authors don't seem to understand the difference between good medical care and mumbo-jumbo. You know the drill. And while the exercise has been good, to the tune of ~30#, it has also provided me time to consider things I want to write about --- I gotta concentrate on something other than my heavy breathing while climbing a hill.

I guess that means that posting here will have to be added back into the mixing bowl. Sorry. And if I get too worked up --- too aggravated --- let me know.