ANCHORING

Oops, I think I packed my sense of humor in one of the carboard boxes.  I was on a roll, awakening with music in my head and remembering the good old days.  Six more days and Renee and I will be on the road.

Talk about humorous situations, Renee and I are a stitch in the car.  First of all, neither of us can hear. Second, our sense of direction is not great.  Thank God for GPS.  Third, I’m hot, she’s cold.  Fourth, I need to find a bathroom every 100 miles.  You have to be in the car with us to appreciate how funny it gets.  Getting old sucks and turns a 12 hour trip into a 16 hour trip; 12 driving and 4 finding bathrooms.  Maybe I’ll buy some Depends.

Thursday, I had lunch with three of my patient /friends. I was at the birth of their now 30 something son.  Donna likes to tell the story about her son’s pacifier.  Johnny was in the office for a routine exam and it was time to get rid of the pacifier, so I asked her to give it to me and to make all the other pacifiers disappear.  Johnny handled it well until he got to the lobby where upon he dropped to the floor and started screaming.  He needed his pacifier.  Apparently, I opened the exam room door and tossed him his pacifier.  There’s an old adage, “Man plans, and God laughs.”  My plan for Johnny was obviously laughable.

One of the most important attributes of a good physician is the ability to recognize when to change plans.  “Anchoring” in medicine refers to latching onto a diagnosis or treatment so firmly that you ignore other possibilities or outcomes.  “Fluidity” refers to the ability to change your position or plans on the fly. “Anchoring” is dangerous as it blinds you to the truth.  Had I anchored to my plan to get Johnny off the pacifier, I would have been successful.  Johnny would have given it up at the expense of the patients in the lobby, his parents and Johnny.  By stepping back accepting that he was not ready and giving him back his pacifier, everybody won.  That his mother remembers this incident 30 years later illustrates how important it is to be fluid in your treatment of people.

The concepts of “anchoring” and fluidity are valuable at all stages of life and apply to everyone, not just doctors.  In my youth, people told jokes.  In my old age, people spew their opinions about politics and Corona.  It appears that everyone has anchored themselves to a particular political opinion and are willing to fight for it.  Listening to people arguing over political rhetoric is almost humorous and, at the same time, very sad.

Today, my job is to search through the boxes in my house and find where I packed my sense of humor.  I suggest that you actively look for and find your sense of humor.  Laughter is the medicine we need to survive Covid-19 and the isolation it has forced upon us.  Laughter is what we need to survive the highly polarized political world we live in.  Learning to be fluid as opposed to anchored will help as well.

Here’s your music for the day.  Here’s a joke.  


Pierre, a French fighter pilot, takes his girlfriend, Marie, out for a pleasant little picnic by the river Seine. It is a beautiful day and love is in the air, so Marie leans over to Pierre and says: “Pierre, kiss me”.

So our hero grabs a bottle of red wine and splashes it on Marie’s lips.

“What are you doing, Pierre?” shrieks Marie.

“Well, my name is Pierre, the French fighter pilot, and when I have red meat I like to have red wine!”

His answer is good enough for Marie and things begin to heat up. So she says: “Pierre,
kiss me lower.”

Our hero rips off her blouse, grabs a bottle of white wine and starts pouring it all over her bosom.

“Pierre, what are you doing” she says.

“My name is Pierre, the French fighter pilot, and when I have white meat I like to have white wine!”

They resume their passionate interlude and things really steam up. Marie leans over once more and softly whispers into Pierre’s ear…”Pierre, kiss me lower.”

Pierre tears off her underwear, grabs a bottle of Cognac and sprinkles it all over her private region. He then grabs a match and lights it on fire.

Patting the flames out furiously, Marie screams, “PIERRE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!?”

“My name is Pierre, the French fighter pilot, and when I go down, I go down in flames!”

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