Yesterday, my neighbor described his doctor as being arrogant.  I’ve heard others refer to their doctors in the same way.  I started to defend his doctor’s right to be arrogant but stopped myself.  You see, my profession has been under attack for as long as I can remember; and I am accustomed to defending it.  In this case, there is no adequate defense.

Even though there is no defense for arrogance, I can understand how it happens.  The dictionary defines arrogant as:

having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.

“he’s arrogant and opinionated”


haughty · conceited · hubristic · self-important · opinionated · egotistic · full of oneself · superior · overbearing · pompous · high-handed · swaggering · boastful · bumptious · blustering · patronizing · condescending · disdainful · contemptuous · imperious

Doctors spend 4 years in medical school and another 3-5 years in residency training to care for you and your family. Doctors are trained to be opinionated.  Their opinions can be the difference between life and death and they never forget the deaths that they were unable to stop or may even have caused.  When you hold a person’s life in your hand, it’s easy to become conceited, even pompous and patronizing.

By the same token, when you’ve lost a patient, it’s easy to hide from the emotional damage and depression of loss by inflating your sense of self worth and superiority, feeling that no one could have done better.  Over the years, I’ve met multiple physicians who were arrogant and, frankly, had a right to be.  Those physicians were at the top of their fields, recognized world wide for their expertise.  Some of the most arrogant physicians I met were my teachers.

While a certain degree of arrogance is supported by a doctor’s credentials, arrogance in a clinical situation is counterproductive. Arrogance can blind a physician to his/her own short comings.  Arrogance can push a patient away.  In the office, a physician needs to be humble, understanding that no matter his training or credentials, he/she is human and have short comings.

On graduating from the University of Virginia, I was so arrogant that I only applied to the top three medical schools on the East Coast.  When I did not get accepted, I made the mistake of going to graduate school and found that I hated it.  My arrogance led me to being the leader of a rebellious group of graduate students and, subsequently, being asked to leave the program.

Having come down off my high horse, I made one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I went to Mexico and enrolled in medical school.  Mexico taught me humility and gave me the tools I needed to take care of those individuals who put their families in my hands. 

My advice is to grant the arrogant physician his/her right to be arrogant and then find another physician to care for you.

Here’s your joke for the day:

A DEA officer stopped at a ranch in Texas and talked with an old rancher.

He told the rancher, “I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs.”

The rancher said, “Okay, but don’t go in that field over there…..”, as he pointed out the location.

The DEA officer verbally exploded saying, ” Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me!”

Reaching into his rear pants pocket, the arrogant officer removed his badge and proudly displayed it to the rancher.

“See this badge?! This badge means I am allowed to go wherever I wish…On any land!

No questions asked or answers given!! Have I made myself clear…do you understand?!”

The rancher nodded politely, apologized, and went about his chores.

A short time later, the old rancher heard loud screams, looked up, and saw the DEA officer running for his life, being chased by the rancher’s big Santa Gertrudis bull.

With every step, the bull was gaining ground on the officer, and it seemed likely that he’d sure enough get gored before he reached safety. The officer was clearly terrified.

The rancher threw down his tools, ran to the fence and yelled at the top of his lungs…

“Your badge, show him your BADGE!!”


I’m turning 70 this month.  Seventy has been an eye opener!  My retirement consists of awakening in the am to look at my schedule, then taking pills, eating and off to the first doctor appointment.  Seeing doctors has become a full-time job.  I take meds every 3 hours.  Taking meds is my secondary job.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, I go to “Rock Steady,” my Parkinson’s exercise class.  Next up is meal planning and grocery shopping.  Thank God for motorized shopping carts.  I’ll tell you a secret.  Motorized shopping carts are a chick magnet.  Everyone offers to help me shop.

My afternoons are spent writing and checking out the blogs I follow.  I’ve given up on ZdoggMD.  He crossed the line last week when he recommended a book that teaches you how to avoid paying your doctor’s bill.  One of the sites I go to is my high school graduating classes’ blog.

I’m sad to say that my HS friends are dying off on a regular basis.  I thought 70 was too young to die.  I thought wrong!  Renee talked to two of her friends today, both of whom are suffering from chronic disorders and are miserable.  Remember when I wrote about my fantastic neighbors and our 5 o’clock cocktails on the driveway?  Twelve out of twelve members of the group are actively seeing doctors for chronic problems.

In her 90s, my mother bemoaned the fact that all of her friends had long since died.  While I’ve seen the elderly become increasingly isolated as their friends die off, I never dreamed it would start in my 70s.  If I don’t want to join my deceased friends, I better get this weight off, exercise and start enjoying life.

So, what are we to do? A quote from Mark Twain sums it up nicely, “Don’t regret growing older.  It’s a privilege denied to many.”  Yep, I’ve wasted too much time regretting my Parkinson’s and the aging process.  It’s time to actively work at getting healthier.  Rock Steady is starting to pay off.  My doc thinks he knows why my legs are weak and how to fix them. Lucky me, more spine surgery.

It’s time to get together with old and new friends.  I won’t miss another reunion whether it be high school, college of fraternity.  Better to see them while they are alive than to wait for their funerals. I’ve resurrected my old patient’s mantra, “I have an attitude of gratitude” for just being alive.

Yes, it’s time to work on the bucket and fuck-it lists as well. 

PS – I’m still coming to Chicago for a few weeks and hope to get together with many of my old friends and patients.  Until then, drop me a note and let me know how you are doing.

Here’re your jokes for the day:

A girl walks into a dry cleaner.

She drops off her dress and turns to leave. The owner says, “Come again!” She says, “No, it was toothpaste this time.”   

Why do Jewish men get circumcised?

Because Jewish women only want things that are 20% off.

A man is involved in a shipwreck and is stranded on an island with nothing but a pig and a dog. After 6 months or so, the guy starts to feel a little “amorous”. So he looks at the pig and says to himself, “What the hell? who’s gonna know.” So he takes off his pants, walks up behind the pig and starts… well.. you know… boinkin the oinker. Suddenly, the dog attacks him and continues to do so until he stops…. Another 6 months go by and the guy is going crazy with need. So, he tries doing the pig again only to be attacked once more by the dog. Yet another several months go by when this BEAUTIFUL woman washes up on shore – naked as the day she was born. One problem, she is not breathing. Quickly the guy gives her mouth to mouth. He nurses her back to health. One day when he is tending her, she looks up at him (STILL NAKED) and says.. in a breathy, sultry voice… “You have saved my life. Anything you want, it is yours. Any desire you   have… ask. Anything… anything at all.” The guy looks at her lustfully and says… “YEAH! Can you hold that damned dog?”


This morning, I was looking for a topic to write about when I came across this article published on KevinMD: “Why do patients hate going to the doctor?”  Dr Maheswari Raja did a great job analyzing and then answering this question and I highly recommend that you read it. 

As you know, I practiced for over 35 years.  My staff and I worked at making Lake Zurich Family Treatment Center into a medical home where you could feel safe and respected.  For the most part, we succeeded.  Like Dr Raja, patients often put me on notice that they hated going to the doctor; and, like Dr. Raja, I took offense.

Since transitioning from doctor to patient, I realize why going to the doctor might be a hateful experience and have actually voiced that sentiment to Renee.  From the time, I’m given a stack of papers to fill out and having my most precious commodities documented (insurance care, Medicare card) to the time the medical office assistant rooms me, the doctor in me is assessing the staff and office protocols.  The patient in me just wants to be seen, be heard, and be cared for!

By the time the doctor (or nurse practitioner/physician assistant) enters the exam room, I’m ready to leave.  The system has gotten on my nerves and often that affects what happens during the remainder of my visit.  Given the fact that your doc’s office has to have your insurance information and a host of legal documents allowing your physician to treat you, changing the registration process is almost impossible.

The vast majority of practices have the ability to register you online, allowing you to fill out their forms in the comfort of your home.  Unfortunately, even I forget to go online prior to an office visit.  Of course, patients forget to do their homework.   After all, they usually go to the doc because they don’t feel good or they worry that they have some dread disease. When you don’t feel good, often you don’t feel like doing anything.

So, what can a doc and his/her office do to make the office experience less hateful?  Dr. Norwicky, my new dermatologist, and his staff have found the answer.  On our very first visit, it felt as if they knew me and we were old friends.  Prior to my coming to the office, the office manager had reviewed my internet profile.  The staff was ready for me, cordially inviting me into their home and treating me as an honored guest.  (In subsequent visits, I have found that everyone receives the red carpet treatment.)

The doc quickly displayed all the characteristics of a great doc that I’ve laid out in prior articles. He listened to me without interrupting.  He answered my questions in a reassuring and caring manner.  His immediate and future plans for my care were explained in detail.  He answered Renee’s concerns as well.  I walked out of his office confident that I was in the right doc’s hands.  Every visit since that first visit has been the same. His office should be the prototype for Healthcare 3.0!

As I’m writing this article, it dawns on me that, while I worked to provide my patients with a medical home they could call their own, the hospitality they would receive on coming to my family home, in many cases, was missing.  Further, what set Dr Norwicky and his staff apart was that, in their office, hospitality was evident from day one.  Congrats, Dr. Norwicky.

Joke of the day:

Doctor: “Nurse, how is that little girl doing who swallowed 10 quarters last night?”

Nurse: “No change yet.”


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