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Independence Day

Independence Day

It is not often that my blog posts on Independence Day. It seems as if I should write something related to American freedom. What I find disturbing about our freedom, the one our forefathers fought for over two hundred years ago against British tyranny, is that it is shrinking before our very eyes. I believe America is the greatest country in the world. I believe the experiment of America is beginning to erode swiftly into its own form of tyranny. Before we had large corporations and special interest groups running the country, we were a nation of people desiring the same for ourselves and each other. Government was small, but so was the population of America at that time. It was estimated to be around three million people at that time. Now we are more than one hundred times that. I am baffled by the actions of many of our countrymen and women, or at least the ones that publically seek office and strive to make America great again.

In medical school, I was told by my professors that I had to be objective about caring for the infirm: a good practitioner must stay emotionally removed from his or her patients. I remember many gray-haired professors having almost little or no social interaction with patients, just a polite hello then a bunch of questions about the history of their present illness. No idle chitchat, no talk about the weather or even a question about their favorite ice cream. We medical students knew everything about our patients because we had a mandate to construct exhaustive histories and physical examinations of every patient we encountered. But once we presented a patient or two to our professors, we found out soon enough that less was more. Our professors did not care if people believed in God, did not concern themselves with a patient's stressful life and they could care less about the dynamics of patient families and/or loved ones. Most of my professors never read novels or watched movies at the theaters. They cared about statistics and medical research. Anything else was deemed as useless information.

My most favorite professor was Dr. English. He was different than all the others. He challenged us to dig deeper into a patient's illness, ask them everything about themselves and their experiences in life. He would challenge us to read novels and do something outside of medicine. He was proud that I had a pool building business and encouraged me to take time off to build pools. To him, it was important to care and at the same time be connected to human life and not be afraid of knowing your patients. Twenty years ago, I remember getting a letter from the Dean of the Medical School, notifying all of his past students that he had committed suicide. It was a sad day for me, but a much greater loss for mankind. Dr. English probably just could not swim upstream any longer. Being different is sometimes met with great opposition, even if you are a physician.

I have been blessed to live a professional life that has allowed me to unfold into who I wished to be. But the America I grew up in, the one I knew best in the 1970's is gone. What worked in the seventies won't work now. People seldom talk to each other. Most customers use the self-serve check out islands in grocery and hardware stores instead of a cashier. Billions of dollars are spent on online shopping. Malls are closing due to access of more and more items on internet with free shipping. In the grocery store, people talk on their phones as they meander the aisles, stop their cart in the middle of the aisle and then wonder off to some other part of the store. When any other shopper moves their cart to the side of the aisle to pass by, there is always a chance that road-rage will emerge from the person on the phone who sees their cart is being moved two feet to the left or right.

The house telephone has all but disappeared. Cable television can be circumvented by using apps on smart televisions, computers and cell phones. No one gives their kids coloring books and crayons, instead they hand them their phones to play Angry Birds. Billions of people worldwide are connected to social media. Physicians are beginning to embrace communicating with patients via video chats in Google Hangouts or Face Time. The overall message to most patients is Don't Get Sick because the cost is overwhelming and if you have insurance, it may not cover the cost of your medicines or your treatments. I'm not really sure our forefathers fought the British for self-checkout aisles, cell phones, bankruptcy due to medical bills and isolationism because of cell phones use, social media and the world wide web. 

In the seventies, people were rewarded for being different and compassionate. Now there is an exhaustive emphasis nationally for tolerance to the point that you don't know who is in the public bathroom next to you while you are exposing your genitals to urinate. I doubt public bathrooms are less safe, just more complicated.

The most competent, well meaning physicians have succumb to nationally promoted unemotional standard practice guidelines for patient care. Continuing medical education for physicians is nothing more than drug commercials featuring celebrity physicians. Pharmacists direct drug therapies through PBM plans and FDA guidelines and refuse to consider alternate therapies. I would estimate that the majority of medical illness has no FDA approved drug for use in that particular illness. That being said, off label drug use is what allows physicians to prescribe medications for relief of symptoms from most diseases.  And the same physicians who write the standard guidelines and consult for the drug companies are the ones who sit on the State Medical Boards and make up the rules for standardized practice.  Hospitals seldom support physicians, but then employ them and physicians seldom support hospitals, although they operate and perform procedures in them. No one in the medical industry supports the care of medically indigent patients, regardless of their disease or what study for which they might be eligible. What has taken over the freedoms and compassions of most people?

America is losing, or shall I say lost its sense of community, common sense and independence. People attend churches to put their kids in sports programs instead of taking advantage of community centers, after all, their pastor or minister has their congregation's best interest in mind. Do not pay attention to the overly expensive fees associated with playing sports at the church.

Everything is either on its way to becoming bigger and more expensive or is bigger and more expensive. Families are blended, young men and women are extending their adolescence beyond the age of 26 years-old, living at home, using cars and phones provided by their parents and avoiding the inevitable rite of passage of becoming an independent, self-sufficient human contributing to the greater good of all mankind. Mothers are becoming so enmeshed in their daughter's lives that their daughters cannot make a decision about what toilet paper to buy without speaking to their mothers first to get their mother's opinion about the appropriate brand. Cooking? Just walk down the street to one of the many local food trucks parked on your corner. Why cook? I thought our job was to teach people how to fish for food, not how to walk down to the local dive restaurant and buy fried catfish dinner for four every night.

The majority of people hire folks to cut their grass and clean their houses, at the same time take a strong opposition to immigration reform on any level. Most of the people performing domestic chores are illegals who really cannot stand up for themselves when "the Man" cheats them out of money owed to them over and over again.

And one of the most unusual behaviors: every municipality in the United States shoots off fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July. Why? Why can't one centrally located fireworks experience be enough instead of each community trying to outperform the others? I'm certain the monies saved could be used for a good community cause that would serve all people. Or on the other hand, maybe a Mayor of a community would chose to close down a beach or a park and just allow his/her personal family and friends to enjoy the Holiday fireworks by themselves without having to personally demonstrate their tolerance of diversity that they campaigned on to get elected.

Yep. America is becoming more independent in many ways, but our humanness is becoming more dependent on social media, our children are becoming more dependent on Parent and Grandparent Trust Funds and Government Assistance and all boats seem to be sinking as a few boats, a few big boats appear to be rising. Enjoy Independence Day while you can still drive your car. Soon you will have to follow the rules and let your car drive itself. WOW! Who would the Piperton Police ticket for speeding then, The Car itself?

Doc

Posted by Amanda Sanders at 10:29 AM
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