Residential Space A creative outlet during residency, turned ongoing virtual soap box

Thankless Jobs  2

Posted on November 26th, 2006. About Ramblings.

I saw this article today, and while I acknowledge that these shootings by police may well have been a tragedy due to misunderstanding, I started searching archives for positive police articles versus negative. By far, police get more negative coverage than positive. I really feel for police officers, because coverage of their work is usually so negative, when most of the time police make huge sacrifices to provide society an invaluable service. As a physician, I often feel that doctors are treated the same way – we get coverage about mistakes made, malpractice cases, etc. Law & Order episodes always feature the malicious plastic surgeon operating on women who look fine, and then they die under the knife.

Recently, the mother of a child for whom I was caring yelled at me in the Emergency Room. Nevermind the fact that I had driven in during the night to evaluate her child, and that I had spent an amazing amount of time doing a thorough exam, explaining everything to the family as I worked, and carefully discussed my findings with them afterwards. She screamed at me, told me I was giving her “the run around,” and said to “get the hell out of [her] face,” which I did. She then proceeded to yell at a pediatrics resident and threaten to sue her if she didn’t do an MRI that was unnecessary. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I thought physicians went through medical school and residency so that we could make educated decisions in caring for patients. Heck, I guess now anyone who wants a $1500 test can just threaten the right people and have it done, despite the fact that she is not paying for it. No one needs a medical license to practice healthcare anymore, right?

I feel that physicians make significant sacrifices in order to care for other people – and in residency, the meager stipend we’re paid practically makes it altruism. To be treated like this angers me – it can be such a thankless job. I really wish I had known I would have to endure this so frequently when I first decided to go to medical school.

While I acknowledge that my sacrifices have not been as huge as those made by police officers, as their job risk is much higher than mine, I can empathize with the decent police officers who strive to make the world a better place, but are still painted in a negative light and treated horribly by the very people they are trying to help.

Maybe there’s something I’m not getting…?  0

Posted on November 5th, 2006. About News and Politics.

At this point you would have to be in hiding not to have heard about Evangelical leader Ted Haggard and the accusation against him by Mike Jones, a man who claimed Haggard paid him for three years for homosexual sex. At first, Haggard denied ever knowing Jones. His cronies stood up for him and claimed that this was a diversion before the election. Then, on Friday Haggard admitted that he had purchased methamphetamine from Jones, but denied ever having used it. He also said he paid Jones for a massage, but never had sex with him. Of course, he might as well have admitted everything in full, because it sounded ridiculous.

Today, a letter from Haggard was read to his former congregation, as is outlined in this article. The point of my blog post derives from this portion of the article:

In the letter read Sunday, Haggard took responsibility for his actions, saying “I am guilty of sexual immorality” and noted that “the things I did opened the door for additional allegations.”

He asked the congregation to also forgive his accuser, who Haggard said has revealed “the deception … that was in my life.”

In a separate letter from Haggard’s wife, also read by Stockstill, Gayle Haggard said while her heart is broken, she remains “committed to him until death do us part.”

An overflow congregation responded to the announcement with a standing ovation.

It totally burns me up that his congregation gave this a standing ovation – not because I don’t believe in forgiveness, but because this body of people is likely comprised of opponents to gay marriage, to those who believe the homosexual lifestyle is disgusting and sinful, and who likely judge homosexual people on a daily basis. These are also the same people who were ready to publicly crucify Bill Clinton for a heterosexual affair, and then claimed they were so upset because he lied about it. Bill Clinton was not the nation’s spiritual leader – he was the president, not a prominent minister or rabbi or cleric. He also had not spoken in an openly harsh, judgmental way towards those that did engage in this sort of behavior. Yet Haggard’s followers probably still condemn him as an immoral being, yet they applaud Haggard. I suppose they do not even recognize their own hypocrisy.

Contemplating the notion of a “fat tax”  0

Posted on November 3rd, 2006. About Health Care, Ramblings.

The Becker-Posner Blog is again discussing a notion that, while not exactly politically correct, is an interesting topic for debate. Some of you may recall my intrigue in their musings last year regarding a nation in which organ donation was an opt-out rather than opt-in system. Now, they are theorizing about the consequences of a “fat tax.”

Some of the “pros” for this fat tax, as mentioned both in their articles and in the section for reader comments, are:

  • Obesity leads to many of the United States’ most expensive health issues, such as hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, stroke, myocardial infarction, colon cancer, venous thrombosis, etc, and then these lead to other costly issues, such as peripheral neuropathy, gangrenous limbs, renal failure, colectomies, retinopathy, etc. Okay, so they didn’t list all of these as examples, but I am, and frankly I could name about sixty more, but another time perhaps…
  • Many of these people require impressive time and treatment in the inflated health care system, much of which is now supported by tax dollars (Medicaid and Medicare), and these taxes are paid by thin and obese people. Becker and Posner question – is it fair to make thin people pay for obese people when thin people are less likely to use the system for which they have paid? Hmmm…
  • A “fat tax” may serve as an initiative for people to diet and begin exercising. Better yet, the threat of such a tax, but suspension of it for those who are in the process of trying to lose weight (ie, those who can prove they have visited a gym at least two nights a week).
  • After all, many cities are beginning to impose fines on those who do not recycle in order to force a positive behavioral change for the good of greater society. Should this be so different?

However, there are cons:

  • If an obese person is not losing weight and is hypertensive, and is being taxed and feels ostracized by the health care system and thus does not seek treatment, he or she is more likely to have a stroke – a much more costly outcome than monthly antihypertensive medications. When debilitated, on whom does the burden for his or her care now fall?
  • I know when I’m cooking nutritious ingredients for meals (lean chicken breasts, fresh produce, etc) my grocery bill is higher than when I buy cheap snacks (chips, cookies, etc). If we tax overweight people, will that give them an extra reason to continue buying junk food?
  • Some will argue that it’s judgmental and critical to impose such a tax – but as is the nature of the Becker-Posner Blog, they evaluate every issue from a purely economic perspective, devoid of morality and ethics. It is an exercise in reason, much as the book Freakonomics is.

As I type this post, the thought occurs to me that perhaps fatty foods can be taxed heavily – vice taxes, if you will, much like the ones on cigarettes and alcohol. If we taxed potato chips and soft drinks (but not on diet drinks – Diet Coke with Lime and Crystal Light remain tax-free) – wow, that could pay for another two whole weeks in Iraq!

William Styron passes away  0

Posted on November 2nd, 2006. About Books, News and Politics.

Evan brought it to my attention this morning that American writer William Styron has passed away. He was 81 years old, and an important figure to me as I had the privilege of meeting him when I was in college. Some of his better known novels are Sophie’s Choice and The Confessions of Nat Turner. He signed not only my copy of Sophie’s Choice (which I gave to my high school journalism teacher, Dianna Parham), but my copy of Set This House on Fire, which was felt by one of my English professors to be his greatest, albeit not well known, book.

When I met him, Styron had recently overcome a severe depressive episode, and much of his talk described his struggle with the disease, but how grateful he was to have triumphed. Without elaborating too much, I will make the claim that meeting him was one of my more memorable college experiences (and there were many) – one of the benefits of attending a large state university.

Bush and Kerry are at it again  0

Posted on November 2nd, 2006. About News and Politics.

As you have probably heard, John Kerry recently attempted to make a joke about lack of education (Bush’s lack of education about going into the Iraq War) and being stuck in Iraq (Bush’s inability to leave the war-torn country). George W. Bush pounced on the opportunity to make John Kerry appear to be insulting veterans. Why in the world would John Kerry say that soldiers are uneducated? John Kerry is a college-educated veteran. It is so clear to me that his words have been deliberately misconstrued. Bush knows that America has lost faith in and patience with his failing policies, and this is a last ditch effort to gain some points before the election.

Every time one politician demands that another politician apologize for a remark, it just angers me towards the first politician. Bush demanding that Kerry apologize is ridiculous. Has he gone through life demanding an apology every time someone hurts his feelings? He’s the president – he tries to appear tough and solid, but then he insists that people say “I’m sorry” for mere words. Now I’m angry with John Kerry for caving to him and actually apologizing!

Here’s an idea: rather than John Kerry apologizing for a single sentence that may have been mischaracterized, perhaps George W. Bush should apologize to the troops for sending them to Iraq on false pretenses. He should apologize to the families of the 2,000 deceased veterans and to the families of the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have died as a result of his decision. Let’s apologize when it’s truly appropriate.

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