Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Curiouser and Curiouser

So this is it. For 20 years, I've been yammering about wanting to be a doctor when I grew up. Sadly, I haven't grown much more in the direction of "up" in the last twenty years (which doesn't matter in the hospital...since all the patients are lying in my being as short as I am only *enhances* our doctor-patient connection...or so I'd like to think) But here I am, spending every day (and I do mean every day--I don't understand how any resident survived when the work week was *more* than 80 hours--I'm not even a resident yet, but I do feel like I might as well stop paying rent at my official so-called residence) in the hospital, practicing the practice of medicine.

I realized yesterday, thinking back to my formative years, that I didn't actually have physician heroes as a kid. The most inspiring aspect of science was the discovery. The eureka. I wanted to be Benjamin Franklin discovering electricity through a homemade physics experiment. I wanted to be Leonardo da Vinci, dreaming up the helicopter centuries before the technology existed to make one that worked. And near the top of my list, in a group all their own, I wanted to be Encyclopedia Brown, Harriet the Spy, and Nancy Drew. A spy, a detective. I would people watch for hours in the local bookstore, taking copious notes on the minute-to-minute browsing habits (and underlying motives) of its customers. I made a 'spy magazine', a ladies' home journal that I converted into a secret armamentarium, complete with spy hole (so I could accomplish my people-watching while holding the magazine up to my face as if reading it), first-aid kit, pad and pencil, stickers (never know when you might need a gold star sticker), and other sundries I deemed essential to my success as a world-class spy detective.

Now that I am finally, after 20 years of anticipation, living my dream of practicing medicine (and yes, as scary as it seems, my days now actually consist of seeing patients, ordering meds, drawing blood, interpreting labs, and other doctorish duties) I realize that one of the parts I love best about medicine is the chance to live out that childhood dream: to be the secret detective who cracks the case of the mysterious symptomatology.


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