Being your doctor is exhilarating. Being your doctor is excruciating.

Being your doctor is exhilarating.

Every day I wake up to a schedule brimmed with purpose. The door of my office is a portal into the richness of the human experience. I become a thread in the tapestry of other’s lives. I bear witness to the joy and pain, laughter and heartache, and mundane daily routine.

I spend my days bouncing between art and science. Paid to be the wily detective, my brain stumbles on detail. Some cases are typical, quickly resolved with an adjustment here or there. Others are more enduring, months are spent contemplating the possibilities until answers present themselves. The sick become healthy. The terminal are comforted and allowed a soft place to land.

A familiarity grows out of the wisdom of experience. An acceptance of the limits of human knowledge. Self-acceptance soon follows. The connection between me and my fellow man is the bedrock of my professional existence. I help people solve problems.

I make a good living. My title still carries a certain amount of respect. Job security is a good bet. And my days are anything but boring.

Being your doctor is excruciating.

Every day I stare into the abyss of humanity. I become a party to every patient’s agony and despair. I have witnessed pain and loss that endure. My mind is scarred from an invisible emotional battle much like the physical ailments of an infantryman.

I am haunted by countless decisions that profoundly affect other’s lives. The devil hides behind every dichotomy. Poking out it’s steely head, waiting to attack the supple underbelly. I remember each battle lost, each face. Until the next horrific calamity erases the last. Over and over again.

I rarely sleep uninterrupted. My phone rings while I’m taking a jog, in the shower, or on the toilet. Occasionally a nursing home thinks my mobile is a fax number, and my phone rings over and over again in the middle of the night, waking my family.

I am constantly told that I am wrong by technicians, administrators, insurers, and the government. I often have to fill out the same paperwork over and over again. I sign thousands of papers a month for what appears to be no reason.

I often feel crushed by both the enormous responsibility and stupidity that the American health care system has placed on its doctors.

Being your doctor is …

Jordan Grumet is an internal medicine physician who blogs at In My Humble Opinion. Watch his talk at dotMED 2013, Caring 2.0: Social Media and the Rise Of The Empathic Physician. He is the author of I Am Your Doctor: and This Is My Humble Opinion.

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