by Peter Laird, MD
My wife views some of the responses people make to my blog posts with quite a bit of disbelief at times. After all, she washes my dirty socks, tells me to make the bed since I usually get up last, tells me to brush my teeth in the morning when I wake up with what she calls "dialysis ammonia breath," she gets impatient with my slow and prodigious and plodding approach to setting up my dialysis machine with meticulous care and she is completely puzzled why anyone would really want to read what the bumbling oaf she calls her husband has to say about these things.
She has fired me as her doctor more times than I can count even for very simple issues and usually tells people that I am a quack that doesn't no anything about medicine since she can't concieve how the person that she lives and cajoles into my own share of the housework could have any sensibility at all. I had the incredibly bad luck once to discover too late that Hycodin cough syrup makes her vomit, unfortunately, right after we had gone out for an expensive meal. Ah, the love of a woman who puts up with all of my warts, although I am starting to sprout a crop of skin tags that she keeps telling me to get rid of, but she also serves as a great barometer in my life when she gives me a little bit of credit from time to time with all of the critique. In such, I expect honest criticism from her. After all, I am her ongoing project.
On the other hand, no one appreciates criticism especially in a professional manner where our own ego's are at hand. I would suspect that many people have witnessed doctors tirades and temper tantrums in the hospital setting over the least little bit of discord displayed to them. Some of us can be outright tyrants which I have upon occasion, "only" in the very remote past been guilty of myself especially during my years in training with little sleep certainly as the cause of those outbursts. Appointments with the generals aide during my military training did modify my behavior greatly before my wife took over that full time job.
Recently, a respected colleague and fellow blogger criticized one of my comments on his blog, The Kidney Doctor by Dr. Ajay Singh:
Scrib's views were also a major influence on the Gottschalk Committee that looked at the potential role of government in 1967. He, among others, helped to get Congress to pass legislation for the Medicare End Stage Renal Disease Program in 1972, but later became disillusioned as he saw the large profits in the early years and the growth of for-profit dialysis organizations. He said that what he had regarded as “a noble experiment” had become a vehicle fueled by greed rather than concern for providing the best treatment for patients. He continued his interest in renal politics for the rest of his life.
Dr. Scribner also had something to state about mortality rates for patients on dialysis in the early days:
Clyde Shields, a 39-year-old Boeing machinist dying from incurable kidney disease, was the first to receive the shunt on March 9, 1960, at the UW Medical Center. Shields lived for 11 years on intermittent dialysis. "Suddenly," Scribner says, "we took something that was 100 percent fatal and overnight turned it into 90 percent survival. To say the least, no one was prepared for it."
So, I can't blame Dr. Ajay Singh for not appreciating my medical opinions. He is not alone, but he is in good company considering my wife and her reputation which stands supreme among her family and friends. I gave up a long time ago worrying about what folks would think about my deliberately strong stance on dialysis related issues, but that is OK as well. I stand in good company following in the footsteps of Dr. Scribner who has had much harsher things to say about his colleagues than I did in my rather innocuous little comment that Dr. Singh took so much umbrage.
I would hope that Dr. Singh and all of his nephrology colleagues would devote more time to solving our unique American dialysis issues instead of spending the time to write an entire post disparaging those of us that do not believe the current status quo is anything good. According to Dr. Scibner's legacy and many other well respected authorities, as of January 12, 2012, the best days are long since behind us for dialysis in America. When and if Dr. Singh can prove my statement wrong with uncontrovertible evidence, I will be the first to stand up, applaud enthusiastically and turn my dialysis advocacy blog into a patient education blog.
I look forward to the day when my statement in Dr. Singh's blog has no more truth and America once again is the leader in dialysis solutions and not the laughing stock of the world as it is now. We can always hope as Dr. Scribner did by never letting go of the original intentions of his noble experiment gone wrong by profit and greed. We can only hope.