The Daily Post prompted bloggers today with this question: What question do you hate to be asked? Why?
I debated whether of not to attempt to answer this prompt in a blog entry, not because I couldn’t come up with an answer, but rather because the answer was all too evident. I’m not one that likes to share feelings–I blog for the world to see, but it is an amusing pastime that does not require me to share anything of the real me.
I hate it when anyone asks me, “How are you?” or “How are you doing?”
Because inevitably, I must lie.
No one really wants to hear the real answer, or any explanation thereof. It’s just part of the rapport between human beings attempting to be friendly. Some of the people who ask me this might actually care. But I seriously doubt they want to know the answer.
As a physician, I have to ask patient’s how they are doing, at least in the context of their eyes and vision. But I don’t really need to know most of the rest of their problems or pains despite the fact that many are overly willing to share that unnecessary information with me.
So I throw out the ever popular, “Fine” and try to move on quickly. Sometimes, I might just try to ignore the question, as if I hadn’t heard it, but I fear this often comes across as being rude.
Sometimes, I attempt to be a little more truthful. I might answer, “I’m still alive.” And if I’m in a particularly playful mood, I might add, “but the bastards are nipping at my heels.”
Or another popular response of mine is, “I’m hanging in there.” And then I add, “the trick is not to get hung.”
I have no logical reason not to be fine. Or good. Or even great. I make a lot of money. I have my health. I remove cataracts and give people the gift of sight, a talent not everyone has. I have three children who are all healthy. I have faith in God, and that someday, somehow, He will help me find what I am looking for. Or comfort me that what I want was never meant to be.
Yet, I cannot bring myself to admit that “I’m good.”
I don’t feel good. And I am ashamed to feel that way. My problems all seem so first world.
Traffic irritates me. If I carried a weapon in my car, I would probably average killing 6 people per day, at least the days I’m feeling “fine.” Be the last time you pull out in front of me and go slow, though.
While I truly enjoy operating on patients and giving them back their sight, I no longer enjoy all the other bullshit that I am forced by my government to put up with on a daily basis. I cannot simply treat my patients; I have to treat their computerized record as well. I have to justify my existence through a process called “meaningful use,” whereby the federal government uses the data entered into the medical record to generate numerators and denominators, and in order to get paid, I must generate certain numerical ratios. Perhaps I am being overly sensitive, but it makes the practice of medicine miserable and adds not one iota of benefit to actual patient care.
The government has intruded on nearly every aspect of how I care for a person, even down to the point of dictating how, when and where I “mark” the correct eye to be operated on for a patient having eye surgery. We do “time outs” in the OR which are superfluous and unnecessary. Insurance companies often dictate what medications I can prescribe–oh, I am free to prescribe anything, but they will only pay for certain things. I have encountered very few patients who are financially well off enough to override their insurance and pay out of pocket instead of accepting what is covered.
They indirectly control how I keep up to date with continuing medical education. Everything is regulated and has to be documented. And while I understand the need to do these things, the amount of paperwork involved rises exponentially with each recertification period. The governing board of ophthalmology keeps changing the requirements on me as well. Now I have to travel to another city to sit for an exam. The exam costs thousands of dollars, and that does not include the travel expenses or the income I lose from not being in my office. I didn’t have to do that the last time I recertified, but I must now do as they say.
So I work in a job I no longer care much for, other than the warm fuzzy feeling of giving sight, in order to pay bills and taxes I don’t want to pay. I don’t like how the government spends my money, and no one I elect can change that. Of course, the last person I voted for that I really wanted to elect was Ronald Reagan. The rest of my choices since then have come down to the lesser of two evils, and I vote not for who I want, but against who I don’t want.
I should be happy. Despite the traffic and meaningful use, I make a lot of money. But I drive the second oldest vehicle out of five (next to my son’s truck which was actually my dad’s before he passed away and I didn’t have to pay for other than the current insurance.) I have no air conditioning in the summer. This is a choice–the estimate to fix the unit was $1600 which is nearly three times what I get paid to remove a cataract and give someone the gift of sight. Seems over-priced and despite global warming, the summer’s aren’t that hot anymore. Again, I suffer not from hunger, malnutrition or cancer or ebola, or anything truly awful–only first world problems. Maybe I suffer from being cheap. But I generally like my jeep and it gets me from here to there. My phone is a dumb phone–I have to press numbers to text and I cannot access the Internet. Yet my household cell phone bill is $260 per month. Don’t cry for me, Argentina. I’m just ranting now for no reason. I can still make phone calls without a problem.
I hate when my electric toothbrush battery dies in the middle of brushing my teeth.
I think perhaps I don’t know what would make me happy, and therein is the real problem.
Running make me happy. But what am I running from?
I like it when my sports teams win, but I am depressed and angry when they lose.
I like it when people like my posts or follow my blog. I feel liked. And wanted. Strange. I don’t know why.
If someone offered me half a million dollars a year to blog, I think I could be happy.
I think winning the lottery would make me happy. Probably not.
I like making people laugh; but I fear I am becoming Robin Williams. With all the insurance I pay, I am still worth more dead than alive, but not if I commit suicide.
I am not suicidal. Perhaps depressed, but more frustrated and angry. (Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. This all leads to the Dark Side if you believe Yoda.) I don’t want any medications or counselling. Counselling has failed me already in other aspects of my life. An exorcism might help. I want the government to leave me alone and let me do my job the way I was trained. I just want people to stop asking me how I am!
I can be in a roomful of one hundred people, and feel as isolated as if I were on a deserted island. At least the weather would probably be better on said island. I hate the winter, the cold and the snow. It has been snowing here all day today. I hate to shovel it. I hate to drive in it.
I am not fine.
So please do not ask how I am.
I really don’t want to answer. I really don’t know the answer.
But I know I’ve got snow to shovel.