Doc

My patients come to me and say, ‘Doc, I have pain’

All of life is pain and comfort, my powers are few in the face of this universal truth

We try all manner of pills, topical treatments, injections and various therapies, yet the pain persists

Soul pain lies beyond the reach of western medicine

My patients come to me and say, ‘Doc, I cannot sleep’

All of life is fear and relief, effort and rest, I’ll do my best

I send multiple prescriptions, adjust doses, fill out piles of disability paperwork

I work extremely hard so that my patients don’t have to work at all

Although we share the same afflictions; anxiety with panic attacks, depression, insomnia, PTSD, nightmares

Perhaps my patients are doing more for themselves than I will ever do for myself

They are allowing themselves to be helped, although nothing we’ve tried so far seems to help much

No cure in sight, just a lifetime of refills

I’ve yet to outwardly acknowledge the inner storm that rages below my placid surface

My family conditioned me not to feel my feelings, trained me to exist only in service of others, to live for their benefit

The few times during childhood that I made the mistake of showing that I was human, that I was hurting, I received swift and searing backlash

Perhaps my patients are healing me by showing me what it looks like to be vulnerable, by saying ‘I can’t do this’

Yet I fear that I am keeping them unwell, allowing them to accept the sick role without hope of cure by signing their disability forms, by saying ‘you don’t have to do anything’

How will they ever heal themselves if they don’t have to?

How will they gain meaning from their experiences if their feelings are dulled by the drugs I prescribe, if I enable them to spend their life alone and inside?

I show myself how strong I am by forcing myself to function full-throttle in the world despite my invisible disabilities

How will my patients know how strong they are if their strength is not tested?

Am I secretly as callous as my parents, though I act with compassion?

Should I be more like my patients; take it easy and ask for help, or should my patients be more like me and tow their own weight, accept the normalcy of adverse human experiences, work even though they haven’t slept in days, like I do?

I have PTSD, nightmares, insomnia, panic, crippling anxiety and depression, but I carry on because I have to, or so I believe

Maybe I don’t have to do this anymore

Even though I work like a dog and pay my own way through life, even as the taxes I pay in part to support my patients’ disability benefits bleed me dry, I prefer the freedom to create my own life to dependence on a system that provides too little too late to survivors of child abuse

I want to stop asking my patients what is wrong and start asking them what is strong

We are all warriors

May I be a warrior of peace

May I heal myself in order to light the way for others on their healing journey

You Can Have It

Darling, though we’ve never met

You rolled the dice, you placed a bet
That you could win a lawsuit
Born of the heartbreaking news
That your baby died inside you
A horrific experience, true
But of your baby’s death, I had nothing to do
The coroner’s report reveals the truth
Your baby passed away at least a day before you ever walked my way
Darling, I didn’t even lay eyes upon you
I was being a team player, not a baby slayer
In going above and beyond to help another
I didn’t imagine I’d be sued by a mother
You said we dropped the ball
But we were never playing at all
If it is money you are looking for,
Honey you’re knocking on the wrong door
All those years I could have been earning
I spent in medical school learning
about medicine, not about law
Perhaps I wasn’t well trained after all
You want us to take the blame
for your unspeakable pain
Can you imagine what I have given up
just to help you, is it never enough?
For you, I went hungry, I went without sleep
Hard years away from my family, I didn’t see
I got stuck with needles, splashed with blood
Only for you to smear my name like it was mud
On the journey that led me to you,
I gave up love, I gave my life
I turned away from ease and took on strife
Of my own pregnancies, I sacrificed them all
My weeping uterus bled raw
Just to give you my best, I gave up the rest-
My youth, my babies and childbearing years, too many unnumbered tears
I stayed in an abusive relationship throughout medical school
Because the only way to escape my abuser would have been to drop out and forego my education
I stayed in hell for all the women held back from their full potential because of men
Though it was the hardest thing I ever did, and I still have nightmares about him
I don’t feel safe in my skin, but then again I never did
I wonder if I’d do it all again, just to reach out my hand, only to have you bite it
I fought hard to serve you, and serve you I did
Without a word of thanks from you, kid
Then again, we’ve never met
I’m named in your lawsuit, yet
What I’m trying to tell you
Is that my medical degree,
My heart, my mind
My hard work, and all my precious time-
You can have it
It was always yours anyway
Everything I do, dear patient, is for you
I give you my life- you can have my lawsuit too
In trying to hurt me, you only harm yourself
We are all connected in the One True Self
Limitlessness is bliss
Reach out and return the infinite kiss
Available to you at any time
You can have it if you understand this rhyme

Pain

Pain and addiction.

I walk the line between giving too much and giving too little.

Rarely do I get it right.

Rarely do I feel right with myself when I prescribe opioids.

Knowing what lies on the other side of pain relief, knowing the train wreck waiting at the end of the line, knowing the lifelong prison sentence that opioid dependence brings- held hostage in our own skin, til death do us part.

Too many loved ones have died too young from overdosing.

How can I justify prescribing a substance that could suddenly and unapologetically kill someone I’ve never met, somebody’s beloved son or daughter, a curious teen who wanted to feel comfortable in their changing body, experimenting at a party, sampling the medicine cabinet

I want to feel comfortable too.

You complain of pain that you’ve had for years and expect me to fix in an instant.

You say there is a national opioid epidemic, but that you are not a part of the problem.

You say that tylenol and ibuprofen don’t work on you. You say that you need at least Percocet.

You say that other people have been prescribed more for lesser reasons.

You become bitterly enraged if I hesitate, and sickly saccharine if I yield to your request.

You shout that I wasted your time if you don’t get what you want. It kills my spirit to prescribe you opioids, because opioids are, in my humble opinion, the worst medicine- the most risk for the least benefit. With opioids, there is no healing, only the creation of an unnecessary problem without a solution.

It makes me want to leave medicine when I prescribe the medicine you beg for. I’m not practicing medicine for my health, so if I’m not ultimately benefitting your health, then what the hell am I here for.

Can’t you feel my pain? I’m so damn uncomfortable in this drug-dealer role.

If we reserved opioid use for more select scenarios, like only metastatic cancer or the immediate post-operative period, perhaps opioid dependence would be prevented for many who have yet to be born.

However, there are more drug profits to make and more blood to spill before change will come.

The whole scene makes me ill.

If I wanted to deal drugs, I wouldn’t have put myself through the brutality of medical school and residency. I could’ve just dropped out of high school and saved myself a lot of hassle. That might sound cold, but my pain ignites my fire. You didn’t ask about my pain.

I don’t want to be part of this system because I feel like I’m doing more harm than good.

I’m trying to do right in a world of wrong.

I swallow my words until they explode in a song.

Nobody hears my melody because I work all day long.

Sing sweet nightingale.