As a doctor and healer, you have to be someone who feels. I know how personally I take it when Billy Bob shows up, 10 months after he gets his glasses at the mall, and tells me he never could see through that prescription. The glasses, of course, look like they have been worn in the coalmines, but he never could see and thinks I should fix it.

I know how that makes me feel, like when my Mom caught me cussing at the top of my lungs when I was 8 years old because I thought it was a way to impress my little brother. She made me say grace at lunch. My prayer was as follows:

God, I wasnt talking about You. Amen.

What do you do when you feel that feeling, so close to guilt, when you truly did your best for that patient, and yet you still feel like you wereareinadequate?

Been to a big educational meeting lately? Did you speak to that rumpled doctor sitting next to you, or did you sit there swathed in the safety of your handouts and cup of coffee? How did it feel when you, after so many years of learning and medical experience, could not really understand anything the lecturer was saying? The handout might as well be printed in Swahili. I mean, does that doctor next to you know any of this? Or, am I the only stupid, unprepared O.D. in the room?

Whats that feeling? Is it fear? What would happen if they called on you and asked you a question? (Of course, that is stupid. As we all know, CE presenters so love the sound of their own voices that they would never waste time on yours. Brainiacs.)

What sometimes causes us a bit of discomfort, a little unease, and, thankfully, also allows us to laugh at ourselves in one voice, is our common core. This is what makes us human. Its good. Be thankful for all the feelings the joy, the pain, and everything in between that we share. Know that the doctor down the street is your colleague. Dont ever take that for granted. It is a special bond.


Wise and All That

My brother and sister went to Virginia Tech. My daughter was a summa cum laude graduate from Virginia Techs class of 2006. Her best friend from college is a teaching assistant who has been teaching and learning in Norris Hall in room 206. She was not there that day. One of the boys who lived next door to my daughter at her apartment complex in Blacksburg was shot and gravely injured that morning. He faces multiple surgeries, but he will be OK.

I am supposed to know what to say. Im Dr. Vickers. Im Dad. You know, wise and all that, right? But, I dont know what to say. Im not sure what to do.

So, heres what I do: I take care of my patients. I thank my staff, the mailman, the repairman OK, even the sales rep. I ask how the kids are doing in grade school. I shake a hand. I touch a shoulder. I educate. I communicate with the doctors across town. I ask them hows business. I smile and I pray, with thankfulness and great expectation.

I wear my Virginia Tech lapel pin. If a patient asks, I tell them my brother, my sister and my daughter went to college there in Blacksburg, so full of wonderful educators and students. I tell everyone that I appreciate their time with me and thank them for asking about the pin.

To know whats great about laughing, you have to know what it feels like to cry, too. Doctors, I want you to be thankful, no matter whats happening today.

Vol. No: 144:05Issue: 5/15/2007