Tuesday, August 16, 2005

No assault weapons means a good day at the office

From the Bangor Daily News, excerpted below..

None of my patients showed up at the office today with an assault rifle, and none showed up dead. Unless I missed something none of them had any body parts blown off, and none carried a virulent, infectious pestilence dangerous to all around. For some doctors around the world that would qualify as a great day. Once in a while those of us who love to whine about health care in the United States need to remember just how much it can suck (that's a medical term meaning to really stink) to be a patient or a health care professional in most of the rest of the world.

Three medical colleagues returning from tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq reminded me of this fact recently, by their stories and by the looks of changed men.

One spoke of practicing in a clinic in Afghanistan where the main entrance (actually, that's too grand - the entrance was just a wooden door) had a sign forbidding assault weapons inside the premises. Another spoke of the piece of shrapnel in his neck, blown there by a suicide bomb in Iraq that killed 20 of his comrades. The third said nothing of his experience, but his eyes spoke of a man who was still trying to figure out all he had seen in his work on an evac helicopter for wounded American soldiers.

By comparison, if you had asked me about my day in the office today I would have spoken about the frustrations of the piles of paper awaiting me after two weeks on vacation. By comparison, some of the world of health care outside my pristine office, and outside this wealth nation, is a world of want and medical mayhem most of us cannot imagine; a day in it would have most of us reaching for our Prozac, a luxury itself in a world where the only medicine for depression might be tomorrow.


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