Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Be careful what you, or your family, wish for

Another great story comes to me from a psycho-geriatric psychiatrist I respect a great deal. He's full of pearls of wisdom and a fountain of knowledge about obscure clinical syndromes. He also has lived an interesting life.

Flash back to Chile, many years ago. In that country medical students enter medical school directly after secondary school. Our young doctor-to-be is 17-years-old when he starts, and still barely shaving when he graduates at 21. Instead of completing his residency, he goes off kibbutzing in Israel. He is having a great time, and those stories are best left for another time. In this story he find out that he's been drafted by the Israeli military as the Arab-Israeli war has just broken out.

Our poor doctor is now sitting on a hill as a spotter for an artillery regiment. He looks through his field glasses and in the distance he can see the enemy lines. Imagine the horror felt by his family when they hear he has been drafted, they quickly mobilize and call up the Israeli army.

"Do you know what you have done? You have drafted a doctor! You have a physician working in an artillery regiment!"

The military, sifting through their paperwork, realize the asset they are squandering. Our young doctor is removed from the artillery lines and welcomes into the military as a doctor. In an armoured regiment. On the front lines. Now he can pop his head out of a tank and see with his own eyes the enemy, no binoculars required. In fact his task is to inoculate all the armoured soldiers - which requires him, on the front lines, to leave the "comfort" of the tank and scramble to each one individually.

You can just imagine him, screaming and waving his medic bag, as he darts from tank to tank, "Open up! I'm a doctor!" Nice that he made house calls.