Thursday, January 4, 2007

Once Upon A Time...

Once upon a time, I had as my primary care physician, a doctor of medicine who really was a prince. He always shook my hand and made eye contact. He would always sit down and chat for awhile with my husband and me about anything and everything that was happening in our lives. He believed in all that modern western medicine had to offer and was open to everything else that was well intentioned in this world. He knew and cared about our lives (work, pets, hobbies, extended families, politics, emotions...) and told us about his own. He believed the body was a temple and that it was important for him to treat it with respect. He saved me from at least one major surgery by proceeding with prudence, caution and riding herd over less experienced, less intuitive and less wise doctors. We were partners in my healthcare. Did I mention he had call hours at home every weekday morning for a half an hour? Or the fact that he made house calls to his elderly patients? A prince!

But, he retired. He worked hard for many, many years, and did good works, while raising up a family. I cannot begrudge him his retirement. I wish him only happiness. But I can grieve.

Today, I saw his replacement for the second time. She has a stellar resume. But she is not a doctor of medicine as my prince of a doctor was. Instead she is a technician of medicine. I am not an entire, whole, gestalt of a human being. I am a human machine to be inspected, tuned, repaired. She walked into the examining room carrying my chart underneath her open laptop. She said hello. She placed the laptop on a shelf and with her back to me, asked me what medicines I needed. I happened to need a refill. She typed something, asked which pharmacy and faxed it in. She gave me a quick exam. I volunteered some relevant information and she left.

My doctor, who was a prince, retired. I cannot begrudge him his retirement. But I can grieve.

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