Doctors are problem solvers. After 10,000 hours of training, they still need to consult journals, textbooks and specialists in order to develop the best solution to their patient’s problem. During the first 8 years of practice, I had a library in my office. The computer world changed everything. Books gave way to computer searches. The most up-to-date research became available at the click of a mouse. Consultants, carrying pagers at first, then cell phones, became available 24 hours a day.
Despite all of the above advances, the most precious resource a physician has are his own patients. I called it my “Gold List.” In a large practice such as mine, there were leaders. As a group, these individuals wielded immense power and knowledge. They had access to an unbelievable list of resources and the ability to use them. Yet, my profession looked down on tapping this resource. As many of you know, I did whatever I needed to care for my patients including, if necessary, tapping into the resources that my “Gold List” could muster.
I learned, early on, the cost of inappropriately using the “Gold List.” We were closing on the house in Long Grove and had a 24-hour window where we had to finish the sale of our Buffalo Grove house and close on our Long Grove house. We were strapped for money and didn’t think we could get an interim loan if everything did not go smoothly.
The builder called the day before closing and informed us that we would not be able to close as a vital transformer had not showed up and we did not have electricity. I freaked! I went to the office and search my patient files for someone who had the resources necessary to fix the problem. I found the name I was looking for and the next morning we had power. We closed on time. What a relief! Disaster avoided!
Two weeks later I walked into room 3. The patient was a young woman who was distraught, crying and needed something to sleep. It seems that the generator that the generator that was to provide power to her house disappeared. Her closing was delayed.
God had sent her to my office to teach me a lesson. Naturally, I didn’t charge her. I didn’t sleep for weeks. I had learned my lesson. From that time on, I was very careful about how I used the “Gold List.” I will forever be indebted to the people on that list. When charity was needed, they were always there. When a talented patient I delivered needed a leg up in the business world, an interview was available. When new medical technology became available, the president of the company that pioneered the technology brought it to Lake Zurich and made it available to the rest of my patients.
One story that always makes me smile has to do with Motorola. At one time, close to 30% of my patients had ties to Motorola. Being a boy at heart, I love electronic toys and my Motorola patients often used me as a test subject.
I was in an elevator in Las Vegas. A bunch of suits excitedly got on the elevator. It soon became apparent that they worked for an electronics firm. They were excited because they were about to see the newest innovation in cell phones. It was a major breakthrough in cellular technology. I felt like such a bigshot. I wanted to tell them that I had one in my pocket. I had used it for 6 months and it was even better than they thought it was. I had signed a non-disclosure agreement, so I just stood there and smiled.
Life was awfully good then. The point of my story is that a doctor has lots of resources available to help his patients thrive. One of those resources is his own patients. Like the strongest of my medicine, I had to learn when it was appropriate to utilize a patient’s skills and when it was not.
Currently, the power of my Gold List is being turned on me. Everyone of my patients was worth their weight in gold and now they call me to cheer me up, to comment on this blog and to offer their love and care. Thanks for an awfully good ride. I miss you and wish I could open an office at 504 South Rand Road. I would love to be there for you again and I appreciate your being there for me now.
PS – Thanks Jim for being a great landlord. You were an unseen member of my practice and supported me through lean times.
Here’s your song and a joke.
Three vampire brothers decide to hold a competition to see which one of them is the most powerful. The first brother is the strongest.
“Watch this,” he says, and takes off at nearly 100 miles per hour. Two minutes later, he returns, his mouth covered in blood.
“What happened?!” his brothers exclaimed.
“You see that mansion over there?”
“Well, I went over there and sucked each and every last family member dry. They are all dead.”
“Wow!” his brothers say. “As expected, for you are the strongest.”
The second brother to go is the oldest.
“Watch and learn, boys,” he says, and takes off even quicker, at 150 miles per hour.
Five minutes later, he returns, both his mouth and his neck covered in blood.
“What happened?!” His brothers exclaimed.
“You see that village over there?”
“Yeah?” They said.
“Well I went over there and killed every last person in the entire village. There is not one left alive.”
“Wow!” his brothers say in awe. “As expected, for you are the oldest and have the most experience.”
The third brother is the fastest. Not to be outdone, he says “Watch this, and don’t blink or you might miss it.”
He flies off, faster than the rest of them, going at *least* 200mph.
In only ten seconds, he returns. His entire mouth, nose, and neck are covered in so much blood, it stains the front of his shirt.
“What happened?!” his brothers exclaimed.
“You see that giant tree over there?”
“Well I sure fuckin’ didn’t.”