High-tech Care with Old-Fashioned Values

Yes in our lives

This week I had several patients that again taught me much about life and being a healer. Not to give away stories I'll be general. One person has been suffering for weeks with a couple of wounds that won't heal. This would have me going crazy but this patient has always been positive about improvement, confident in the final outcome and trusting in my care. I probably would have been to 10 doctors, making my friends and family crazy but they are happy and serene. I think it is because this patient just enjoys living so much that a little ulcer isn't going to stop his joy. What an example! I pray that I can find the joy in being alive every day.

One patient comes regularly for treatment they cannot administer at home. It is a child. They could be angry or scared or moody but they are excited to come and see me (well, really to see Holly) and they often bring us cards or notes they have made expressing their affection for our care. They want to be a doctor or a fireman when they grow up. The trust and simple love of a child shows me how far short I fall in trusting and loving those around me. It challenges me to see each patient encounter not as one of solving a puzzle but caring for a person.

A couple of patients came in from abusive situations. The pain they have experienced physically and emotionally shows how evil the world can be. But what I have seen from the two this week is the tremendous courage and strength it took to name the evil and resist it despite the fear they had. Too often faced with evil I can retreat. These patients inspire me to dig in and fight.

This brings me to the topic title..."Yes". I have been walking around White Pine early in the AM before clinic to exercise and pray. I have become more and more aware that the God of the universe is a creative, loving, sensual being that above all wants to be known and to know. Too often in our religion we have a list of "No's " that we use as our basis for living (after all the 10 commandments are mostly seen as "Thou shalt nots".

But further the Garden there was really only 1 "no" everything else was "yes". I have been reflecting on how God intends "yes" for us so much more than "no". He wants us to savor the world he has made. That includes our ability to interact with others and Him. It includes the artistry of music and words. It includes loving and being loved.

Sure, in all those areas there may be prohibitions that when broken threaten our relationship with God. But there are so many more possibilities for "yes". I have determined that my life needs to reflect my God and that means figuring out today what "yes" he has prepared for me to savor and to pass on to others.

Life is a time-limited gift.

Two things happened today that made me think about what to write. I had a patient who came in after being AWOL for over a year. They had a serious disease that was easy to diagnose but difficult to control and in the intervening months had intentionally neglected caring for the problem. The reason given was financial but we all know about the money we waste on soft drinks, other addictions, cable TV and cell service. Given the problem I felt this was a slow form or suicide. Far better to call it that than to blame circumstances that are actually choices even if we do not want to see them. I thought this person just doesn't get how precious their life is to their family and to their maker.

The other event was a tornado. A friend was away from home at a "once a year" outing to a nearby town. The event really was on a random night and the family was all from the tornado that swept past their home leveling neighbors' buildings. As I write it is still dark so we cannot be sure of all the damage. In an instant lives may have been lost at the end of a hot sleepy east TN summer day. No one really could have been thinking "this is my last day, my last minutes before...."

Our lives are short. We have much to learn to get us ready for use in eternity. The tragedy comes when we ignore how short and precious our lives are. We participate in things that are wasteful and of no eternal benefit or we engage in habits and practices that tear down the wonderful living body our God gave to us. Life is a wonderful blink in eternity. I wish I could convey that to each patient I see. I am glad my friend's family is alive to live another day....I'm not sure my patient will be around to do so

Changes Afoot

Those of you that are patients will be seeing a change very soon. Today we downloaded a "patient portal" from our electronic records vendor. In non-geek terms a portal is a secure entry point for patients to log in and interact with their chart, our staff and their doctor.

Patients who desire to do this will be allowed to get their own PIN like at your bank and based on the PIN you will have access to many things. You will be able to SECURELY email me or my staff (currently emailing me is still theoretically not secure). You will be able to search for and schedule certain types of appointments. You will be able to fill out forms, send requests for medication, look at lab results and change your demographics (like when a phone number changes. All of this can be done without waiting on the phone (or the answering machine) to communicate with us. This will be a major change and improvement.

Of course if you have email we will be able to send you newsletters, updates on drug issues...even a notification if this blog has a new entry!. You will be able to access the portal directly or through a link on this web site. I assume in the future your account and payments could even be handled electronically. This in no way will change the very personal way in which I try to interact with patients. As you know I answer and return many of your calls. You get me or my manager without a lot of people in between. This means you can know I hear your issue. It does not mean I will always do what you want....I'm still here to give professional advice not to ask "do you want fries with that antibiotic". You pay me for expertise and advice not to do anything you ask...that would be dangerous.

Coupled with the portal we are advertising more both in newspaper and electronically. This is an attempt to keep our practice financially stable so we can practice the way I want. As most of you know I give away a lot of care willingly but I still need to make ends meet at the end of the month. Also a busy vibrant practice keeps me on my toes intellectually and will allow us to expand in the areas of exercise and nutrition that are so important to our patients. Please continue to be patient with us. Technology is a wonderful blessing but can also be a curse when it fails. Let us know how we are doing. Use this site and the comments page. You can also respond to this blog by clicking on the comments link and filling out the form with your ideas. Thanks for the input we have gotten so far and we look forward to good things in the future.