Be thankful – you could be a doctor

Categorized as 02/16/09 Goshen News column

It’s everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you go or who you talk to, everyone’s thinking the same four-letter word.

This little word won’t get your mouth washed out with soap. Oh, no. In fact, it was this very word that prompted a presidential visit last week. You know what I mean. Jobs. J-o-b-s. Jobs.

In the current climate, having one makes you very thankful. Or it should, anyway. And for the most part, I am.

It’s a blessing, that’s for sure, to be able to work from home. The advantages are many. I have no transportation costs. I can care for my own babies, supervising homework and running laundry all at once. The dress code is whatever I want it to be, and sometimes I want it to be jammies and slippers. Just don’t tell Mr. Schrock. I’d like to keep him thinking that the job requires regular wardrobe updates.

As wonderful as it is to work from home, there have been days when I felt like chucking the whole thing out the window – computer, dictating physicians, and all – and heading for the state line at a dead run. Oh, yeah. That’s after I hunt the dictator down and strangle him first.

Such dark desires can be triggered by computer crashes (I’ve had a few) or by a physician who thinks you can construct an entire report from six minutes of mumbling through a sandwich punctuated by two coherent syllables. Or a physician who crams what should be a 10-minute dictation into a three-minute blur. Or one with a heavy accent who dictates, apparently, from the back of a coat closet. Then there are the wafflers who change their minds over and over in a single sentence until I have carpal tunnel just from backspacing.

Yes, the feelings of gratitude can evaporate quickly in the face of such challenges. This could be why on rare occasions I’m tempted to look at other careers, like zoo keeping. You know how that turned out.

Oddly enough, sometimes comparing what you have with what you don’t have can get those warm, fuzzy feelings of happiness and thankfulness flowing once more. For instance, when I stop and think about what those physicians actually do, I start feeling grateful real quick.

Remember those medical procedures I mentioned the other week? Well, someone has to perform those, you know. These brave men and women rush in where others fear to tread, and all for the sake of our health.

The amount of power they possess is incredible. With one flick of a gloved finger or a sharp turn of the scope, they can completely rearrange the expression on a patient’s face. Where once there was a smile, there is suddenly a look of surprise and panic with two eyebrows shooting up and coming to rest squarely on top of the scalp roughly in line with the ears.

Every day our friends at the doctor’s office take their lives into their own hands. They never know when a volatile patient may turn on them, resentful at experiencing too many left turns and “ewies” in the course of a routine examination. If you’ve ever wondered why your gastroenterologist shows up wearing Reeboks, it’s because he wants to be prepared to beat a hasty retreat should you suddenly come after him.

The social implications for them are striking as well. Can you imagine the self-esteem issues you would struggle with if no one ever wanted to shake your hand at a cocktail party? What if every time you moved to join a circle of conversation, all the participants would fall silent, smiling weakly and scurrying off for parts unknown – in reverse? Yes, this would be painful, especially for a social butterfly like myself.

When I think of all that our brothers and sisters in the white coats go through, it makes me very thankful. First, it makes me appreciate their courage and their willingness to do what no one else will do. It’s for our good, you know.

Secondly, it makes me thankful that I’m on the safe side of the exam room. All I have to do is hear about it and then type it up, even if it’s through a sandwich or from the back of a coat closet.

Maybe my job isn’t so bad after all. As soon as I can find my bunny slippers, I’ll get right back to it.

Rhonda Schrock is thankful that, for the most part, her dictators are great. Her dictators are thankful that they – and their necks – live far away in another state.

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