Marching Up Country
(With Apologies to Xenophon)
The campaign draws to a close and will end like many such expeditions do; in a victory of sorts for I have certainly marched into and through the Empire of Medicine with my fellow mercenaries, outwitting the enemy on many occasions, laying waste to his crops and orchards when necessary, and always keeping one step ahead of his mighty armies that sought to harass and encircle me. And yet the cost has been immense and I arrive at the end of this journey with treasure sorely depleted, footsore, battered, and weary with miles to go until I am truly home. Still, having survived this far seems a monumental achievement although at the time it was just a slow slog through inhospitable lands, a wretched journey punctuated by moments of excitement and terror.
Now crest the last hill and view, stretching to the horizon, the glittering waters of the Black Sea beckoning to us like a welcome friend and a reminding us that that we have now come through the worst part of it although many adventure still lie ahead.
The sea! The Sea!
What I Now Know
Most of the job of any doctor is ridiculous. So ridiculous in fact that to get through the the day it is necessary to engage in a little doublethink as you pleasantly churn your way through the reams of useless paperwork, the incredibly asinine patients who you treat just for placebo’s sake, the waste, the inefficiency, the bureaucracy, and every manner of obstacle between you and what you must occasionally convince yourself is a meaningful job. I know this very well.
Occasionally I give narcotics to an obvious drug-seeker or start an enormous work-up on a patient who is surely a malingerer and the nurses give me that sarcastic, rolling-their-eyes kind of look to imply that I am too trusting of the patients and if they were in my position they’d throw the bum out with a couple of Tylenols and big glass of water. Fair enough. Cynical they may be but they are usually spot-on in their assessment of who is really sick and who is missing some essential gonadal chromosome. Although frequent fliers and malingerers occasionally present with hidden but extremely severe acute medical problems, for the most part they and the constant procession of patients with minor complaints need no more of a workup but a good history, a focused exam, and an admonition to return without fail if their symptoms don’t improve. I suppose that most of them don’t need to be seen at all and surely not in an Emergency Department.
In other words I know full well that most of the money with which we hose down the patients is poorly spent and completely ineffectual. I understand this. I get it. Thanks for ripping off the scab and rubbing salt in the wound. You do whatever it takes to get through your day but for my part, it is often necessary to suspend my disbelief and pretend, for sanity’s sake, that every abdominal pain, vague back pain, nebulous headache, and strange constellation of non-specific symptoms is going to pan out; is going to reveal itself to be that one in twenty cases that justifies all of this education, all of the hours, all of the money dumped into my training, and the devastation of my personal life.
Even the Bumper Stickers Suck
Used to be that the most durable object on the planet was a bumper sticker. So durable that they often outlasted the car. In fact, you can still see the occasional Clinton-Gore offering, slightly faded but robust, grimly adherent to a lovingly maintained Nissan Sentra. I mention this because I still see the occasional Obama bumper sticker proudly displayed by the vestiges of those still in abject thrall of the Serpent King Ra-Obama and although it has been less than a year, the stickers are faded, peeling, and look like something printed hastily in some North Korean re-education camp before the entire shift was taken out and shot.
Which is sort of a metaphor for Obamerica, a country that is rapidly turning into a crappy third-rate nursing home where nothing is made, nobody does anything of value, and the only growth industry besides government are breathless special interest groups working hard at the kind of socially conscious jobs beloved of neighborhood organizers, vying for and spending money we borrowed from the Arabs and Chinese to mold another generation of Americans into beggers, whiners, and shrieking social parasites. The country is kind of peeling at the edges and fading, so to speak. Even the Russians are laughing at us, completely baffled at our headlong rush into Marxism, statism, socialism, and all of the other -isms that once, long ago when we were men, we defeated handily.
And the Sun-God hasn’t a clue.
Like I said, even the bumper stickers suck.