My kids will tell you that the Segal motto is, “Go big or go home.” I went big. The practice grew and I decided to rent the adjoining office space. Sixty-five hundred square feet of medical office space and only one doc! What was I thinking? I still couldn’t find a doc who would care for my patients the way I wanted them cared for.
Enter the era of physician extenders. I started teaching physician assistants, P.A.C.s; and, in doing so, found Jack and Maki. By hiring the two of them, I freed up some time. You’d think I would spend that time at home, wouldn’t you? You would be wrong! “Milo” fell in love with teaching and research. Big Pharma took notice and speaking engagements and research projects put “Milo” on the stage, literally.
My biggest gig was at Rosemont Convention Center where I was the opener for the grand masters of asthma treatment. I had 650 people in front of me and the stage was mine for 45 minutes. I was great!
My favorite lecture was on the treatment of influenza. At a dinner conference in Elgin, I played the role of the flu of 1918. Again, I was great. I held the audience’s attention for an hour, then we got drunk and sang Christmas songs late into the night.
I loved teaching. I liked being on the stage. I liked the applause, and I liked the added income. I didn’t like being away from home: but, to be a national speaker for Pharma, you had to travel, so I did. I was appointed to Glaxo’s national speakers panel and developed expertise in the management of asthma and copd. I found myself sitting at the table with the Gods of Asthma care and holding my own. I impressed myself! I impressed other pharmaceutical houses and, for a short time, flourished. I was addicted!
Over a ten-year period, Pharma actually listened to its physician advisors and things were good. As Pharma became hungrier for profits, things changed and my relationship faded away. My opinion of Pharma has changed with time. They are no longer my friend. They are not your friend, either. When you see their commercials touting their newest medications, turn off your TV. No matter what the commercial says, you probably don’t need what they are selling. If you do, your doc will tell you.
Now, a true story. Once upon a time, a kindly old lady came to see me. She had 36 bottles of pills in a bag. She had seen ads on TV and in magazines telling her how good the pills were. She had pills for her breathing, her heart, her joints, etc. As I took bottles out, she would explain why she was taking it. She would start off with, “It’s all natural.” I would explain that it was manufactured, not naturally occurring. As we got to the bottom of her bag, I found prescription meds prescribed years ago and being refilled by other docs she was seeing but hadn’t told me about.
Despite all the pills, she related that her breathing/asthma was getting worse. In the bag, I found two bottles that contained echinacea. When asked, she admitted to being allergic to “ragweed.” Echinacea is ragweed! She didn’t know it, but she was poisoning herself. Her suffering was directedly tied to her buying into commercial and advertising pieces found on TV and in magazines. She got well when she stopped taking her pills.
“But doc, it’s all natural,” is a statement I hear all too often. My poop is all natural! I put in the freshest organic foods I can buy and it’s processed the way God meant it to be. I don’t think you want to take swallow it, do you? Remember that the next time the ad implies that its good for you and safe because it’s “all natural.”
Looking back in time, I realize bigger is not better. I realize I was addicted to being a family doc and to teaching. My office was the small, private stage I performed on daily. Pharma put me on a much larger stage. My ego prevented me from seeing the damage done to my own family by never being home.
Funny, as a family doc, you would think I would have been better at being a family man. Oops, I’m getting on the should have, could have, would have train. That trip goes to nowhere!
Here’s your joke for the day.
Just after my wife had given birth, I asked the doctor, “How soon do you think we’ll be able to have sex?”
She winked at me and said, “I’m off duty in ten minutes – meet me in the parking lot.”
Man: Doctor, all five of my boys want to be valets when they grow up!
Doctor: Wow! That’s the worst case of parking son’s disease that I have ever seen.