Here I am in Boston, on the eve of my very first writer’s conference, feeling a bit like an imposter. After all, the extent of my writing so far has been this blog, apart from thousands of histories, physical exams and treatment plans over the last thirty-nine years since starting medical school. It occurred to me that someone might actually want to know what it is that I write about. And then it occurred to me that I had never actually thought about it. So I did, and this is what I came up with.
WHAT I WRITE ABOUT:
Cancer Radiation Therapy Dogs Cats Horses Being a mother My kids Travel My father My mother Being a doctor Life
WHAT I AM TRYING TO SAY ABOUT LIFE
Cancer patients inspire me and motivate me I’d like to explain a few things about cancer I’d like to explain a few things about radiation therapy Cancer is evil and is not selective and makes me sad Cancer patients can be funny and they also make me laugh Sometimes people do really stupid things when it comes to cancer treatment Sometimes simple people can be heroes Dogs are good therapy for me, my cancer patients, and my kids Ditto on cats Horses are beautiful, liberating, dangerous and always expensive You can be a mother AND a doctor and it’s going to be very hard Your kids will forgive your shortcomings Your kids will make fun of you Your kids will be successful if you EXPECT them to be and don’t harass them Travel is enlightening and sometimes difficult and sometimes funny My surgeon father is both an inspiration and a source of extreme annoyance My mother had a hard life and a hard death, despite appearances There’s always someone worse off than you There’s always something to hope for
WHAT I AM TRYING TO SAY ABOUT BEING A DOCTOR AND ABOUT MEDICINE
Examine your patients—it’s important Think for yourself and follow your gut instinct Beware of templates. They tempt us to cheat The Rules of the House of God still apply Doctors make mistakes. Be very selective about who you hire and set a good example for them Be the captain of the ship Try not to whine, even if you fail Communicate with your referring doctors and with your patients Take the time and make the time Learn to speak slowly and clearly in layman’s terms Try not to say no, and never say “never” DO NOT DROP THE BALL when dealing with cancer patients And finally, answer your goddamned phone calls
Did I leave anything out?