“The House of God” is one of the best books I’ve read. As mentioned previously, I’m actually reading it for the second time.  I think you should read it.  Of course, I’m biased.   It was published in 1978, the year I did my Fifth Pathway/Internship.  The story takes place at a Jewish-owned hospital/medical school established to educate young Jewish doctors as many teaching hospitals had Jewish quotas limiting acceptance to medical school.  Congressman Whitehurst, my district’s representative, informed my parents that the reason I did not get into The Medical College of Virginia was because their Jewish quota had filled.

Are you starting to get the picture?  Yep, I strongly relate to this book.  I lived most of it and recognize many of the doctors, nurses and patients depicted by the author. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, I cannot relate to the portrayal of the interns, residents, doctors, and nurses (that staffed the House of God Hospital) fucking like bunnies. (Since my readership goes up if I mention sex, I thought I would use “fuck” and see how many readers I can bring onboard.)

The stresses of medical training are tremendous.  On June 30, 1978, I was a student.  The next day, July 1, 1978, I was a doctor seeing hospitalized patients, working 36 hour shifts, living in the hospital when on call and, occasionally, torturing patients.  You do not want to be admitted to any hospital on July 1!

I guess I should explain what “torturing patients” means.  The only written complaint I ever got was from a middle-aged female admitted with pneumonia.  She was built like me (fat) and had horrible veins.  I missed on three attempts to start an IV, succeeding on the fourth.  The director of my program took great pleasure reading me the following: “I have nightmares in which Dr Segal is chasing me down the hall with an IV needle.”

My director and I did not see eye to eye on most things.  He had ‘book sense” but lacked clinical knowledge and people skills.  While I honed my diagnostic skills and learned how to relate and care for people, my director went to meetings and honed his political skills.  From the age of 13, I was convinced I would be a family physician.  Under Dr “S’s” tutelage, I grew to hate family practice.

Luckily, the director of the ER rescued me.  Dr. “A” was dying (literally).  On occasion, he taught with chemo running into a vein in his arm.  On graduating, I went to work in the ER at a local hospital.  ER medicine was exciting, even fun.  It also could be incredibly stressful.  One night, I was running the major illness, trauma side.  The paramedics dropped a 24-year- old female in our ER (in 1978, paramedics basically were a taxi service).  She was trying to die from a knife wound that penetrated her heart.  The cardiovascular surgeon was 30-45 minutes away, so my partner and I opened her chest and plugged the hole.  She lived!  Can you imagine how freaked out I was? Can you imagine how depressed I would have been if she had succeeded in dying?

According to “The House of God’s” author, I should have decompressed/celebrated by banging the “head” nurse.  Of course, I would never contemplate such a thing (Renee proofs this) as I was married.  But remember, “It is impossible to be depressed with an erection” (HOG)?  So, maybe the answer to the sharp rise in doctor suicide is hospital-based orgies. 

If your doctor appears stressed and overwhelmed, then, at the very least, you could ………  If you’re reading this, I got it past my editor!

Here’s a joke for today:

It ain’t always easy having erectile dysfunction

but it sure as hell ain’t hard

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