I’ve said it repeatedly. I learn more from my patients than they learn from me. This week, a patient shared how to make my own laundry detergent. Yes, my patients know me well enough to know I am the kind of person that would make my own laundry detergent. They bring me jars of homemade jam….and they return the cleaned jars of jam I gave to them. Today, I share a spoonful of peanut butter from my personal stash with a woman having a bad hypoglycemic episode (her blood sugar was 41).  She didn’t respond to a glass of Gatorade. The share their book jackets and recent movies watched. They ask after my sons (whose pictures are posted in my exam rooms). Some patients remember when I was pregnant with the soon to be 15 year old who is 6’1″ and weighs 226lbs.

The patients are what keep me going. It is all about them. It is all about serving them and being helpful to them. As long as that 20-30 minutes I spend in each exam room remains a good place where I feel useful and helpful, then I still hold my vocation in awe.

I must steel myself against the things that grind away at my love of practicing medicine. Those forces rarely originate from patients. The erosion of faith in what I am doing and how I am doing it arises in the administration of a medical practice, in the misplaced trust and dependency on people hired to perform tasks for which I am not skilled or qualified……and simply can’t do. My job is to see the patients (and to think and empathize).

I must recall the true vocation. I must pull the thorn from my paw and not be distracted by the pain.

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