Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dragging My Feet

For efficiency, I have been recording thoughts about the future as they arise on my digital recorder or iPhone.  Thematically, the phrase "dragging my feet" has cropped up recently.  I have been dragging my feet for the past two-and-a-half months since being fired, trying to figure out what to do and where and when and how to do it.  It is 8 September 2011; two years ago on this day of the week I started at my last job.  Now I'm 45 and seasoned.  Yeah, seasoned.  That's what they diplomatically call getting older, more experienced.  I know what it will take to do what I want to do and invariably that will involve more than what I have.  So I have to figure out how to change that equation in keeping with my general belief structure.

I certainly have a lot of time to think, particularly when walking my dogs.  My dogs are the most walked dogs in the world, I suspect.  Probably borders on abuse, but never was such abuse so welcome by them!  Our house is against a forested greenbelt and there is a little path out back through the woods that we use.  Last night the dogs chased some whitetail deer, some Larsonian taunt on the deer's part, to be sure. This morning it was an imperious red fox.  The weather down here in south Texas has been great lately, with clear skies, low humidity, and early mornings in the upper 50s.

I bring a covered mug of hot black tea (properly steeped), my pipe, and a book, and settle down at the dog park nearby for an hour or two.  Lots of time to think, though the wildfires down here have us all on edge a bit.  Everything's so dry that they seem to spark up spontaneously.  One popped up just 17 miles away (Magnolia), but is now contained.  I would say that this place is a tinderbox, but, really, who has ever seen, much less used a tinderbox?

You have options, my friends tell me, a reminder to me that there are circumstances where there are NO options.  I would like to continue to be a physician and to care for people.  I think I'm actually pretty good at it.  I suppose I could work for GE, or the Texas Medical Association, or some other lobbying organization.  But I really like doctoring -- it's great fun and always interesting.  My father used to regularly remind me to pick a profession I would enjoy, as I would be doing it for a long time.

I enjoyed starting my last clinic because in it I had ideas about constructing and maintaining order that were, at that time, cutting edge:  completely paperless, maintaining a carefully structured database of patient information using scanned material in a very limited fashion only, getting the patients to do the data entry, developing a web portal for individualized communication with patients, incorporating images into the database, automating backend functions and other aspects of care in the office.  I had my ideas about order and constructing order in a win-win environment for patients, physicians, and insurers.  In 2001 it was unexpected, a new world awaiting exploration; now it is more familiar and expected.  This is still the sort of legacy that I would like to leave.  Better healthcare through better structure.

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