I was going to be a doctor.
I majored in political science as an undergraduate and received a master’s degree in American Studies (my thesis was “The Literature of Disgust”). I incorrectly thought this provided me with a strong foundation in pre-med.
However, I was healthy (which should be a pre-requisite for a medical background) and I double majored in pharmacology. Additionally, alternative medicinal research and experimentation was my hobby.
I did an exhaustive study of the Physician’s Desk Reference. Many years ago, while researching the new drug Oxycontin, I noticed the first sentence in the description of that drug.
“Oxycontin can create a sense of euphoria.” That definitely caught my attention. Unfortunately, I felt it unnecessary to read the following 15 paragraphs.
The stumbling blocks for me going forward with seven years of medical school and residency were zero interest in chemistry or biology—an aversion to other people’s illnesses, diseases, glands, organs and bodily fluids, and a strong distaste for blood (and certainly a horrific disinterest in other people’s blood).
It’s unfortunate that I never completed medical training. I frequently hear people say, “You would have been a great doctor, even if you’re not Jewish.” Many people have said this.
Smart people, like scientists and stuff, are always amazed at my medical acumen. I think they are correct.
I certainly would have held up my end of the bargain regarding the Hippocratic oath which—simplified from the confusing, original Ionic Greek—says: “First do no harm.”
There’s a list of other things I wouldn’t do.
No orthopedic work. Sawing bones and pounding pins and steel plates into joints is too much like carpentry or machine work or welding. I have no skills in those areas. If I can’t accurately place a nail in a two-by-four, I have no business trying to thread tendons and ligaments together.
No psychiatry. Listening to my own inner thoughts is a virtual battlefield. Listening to crazy people’s thoughts would be annoying and could possibly transpose their insanity and depressive thoughts into my life. No thanks.
No podiatry. I cannot imagine messing around with my own feet much less anyone else’s.
No plastic surgery. I wouldn’t do anything that, if it turned out wrong, could turn someone into an absolute freak.
No urology. That stuff is more complicated than it seems. I don’t want to know where a prostate gland is or what it looks like or what it does.
No gynecology. I’m a reasonably curious person, but that’s way too mysterious for me.
No lung, stomach, kidney, thyroid, bladder, brain, eye, ear, nose, throat or back stuff.
Actually no interior body parts are interesting to me. They should all work pretty well on their own.
No proctology. No, no, no. A thousand times NO!
The only medical field for me would be a kind of general practitioner. The kind with the bushy mustache and spry, twinkling eyes. I’d engage my potential patients in seemingly mundane conversation and, by doing so, I’d determine their mental stability and level of happiness, and whether or not I’d like to keep them as a client.
Then, I’d do next to nothing on the front end of a forensic, diagnostic examination. I’d look at skin color, clarity of eyes, timbre of voice, and ambulatory capabilities. The diagnosis would be a simple thumbs up—or, with some empathy, a thumbs down.
However, on the back end of a thumbs down determination, I’d get busy. I would take full advantage of all the medical machinery that’s been developed in the last 50 years. I’d hook my patients up to every kind of contraption that could be inserted into a wall outlet.
If a family member ever even quietly whispered, “Let’s go on and pull the plug,” I’d first want to know which one of the 17 different gadgets they’d suggest I disable. Then I would have them arrested. Then I would search for more apparatus to plug in.
Those life-saving, death-delaying machines were invented for a reason, and I’d be determined to use every one of them.
Next: Holistic medicine and the importance of breathing.