"Our number one responsibility as doctors is to convince our patients not to take medicine"
-One of my teachers
. . .
I think I'm starting to pinpoint what strikes me as weird about peds, at least part of it. All doctors are sarcastic. And more than occasionally, they are sarcastic about their patients. There's even an article in the most recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine discssing physician humor and how it is occassionally inappropriate. Tellingly, it was written by a med student. But that's an aside.
I was saying, doctors are sarcastic. And pediatricians are no different. But since I like kids, and think most of them are pretty cute, it is jarring to hear the sarcastic commentary I expect from physicians stemming from the cute 18 month old we just saw. Maybe, subconsciously, there's an element of "you deserve this because of your lifestyle choices" underlying the bitter humor on a medicine ward. I feel on peds like the disciples questioning Jesus: "Who sinned, this man or his father, that he was born blind?"
Of course, in neither instance is the dark humor justified. I'm here, after all, because it's my calling to care for these people, no matter how they got their hurts. Which is why military doctors in Iraq care for insurgents as well as American and coalition troops. It's our responsibility. But I think the dark humor is a release, a way of distancing ourselves from the sick, because though we may want to care for the sick, we don't want to be the sick. I don't know. I'm just figuring this out.