I have been writing blogs for WebMD for nearly a decade. At first, I had to be talked into doing them, and then it became addicting. Family Webicine – a glimpse behind the exam room door — became an integral part of my clinical life
I wrote seasonal blogs on poison oak/ivy, sunburn, mosquito bites, dog bites, toddler bites, and frostbite. And I tackled controversial subjects like vaccines NOT causing autism. I also did a few 12-part series, like the Dirty Dozen – The Twelve Dirtiest Places. My 600 or so blogs (lost count) will still be available in the WebMD archives, but at the end of this month, the Family Webicine blog site will be retired. Actually, in a few more years, I hope to retire from full-time clinical practice myself. I don’t plan on retiring from writing, however.
Over the years, people learned a great deal about me as a clinician, a father, a grandfather, a backyard chicken farmer, dog breeder, and as a person. My blog was a way for me to voice my frustration over the cost of medical care and pharmaceuticals. I openly chastised rude medical providers who make patients wait for their appointments, perform cursory examinations, and leave the examination room without addressing the patient’s questions. I complained about patients who always come in late, add “Oh, by the way” issues to their medical visits, and answer their cell phones. Virtually anything that went on behind those closed examining room doors could end up as a blog topic (within good taste, of course).
My blog readers have shared poignant moments in my life, like the joyous birth of at least 3 of my 6 grandchildren, my mother’s dementia, cancer in my friends/relatives, and even some painful deaths. I wrote about my pets, and was especially touched by supportive readers after the tragic death of my favorite dog, Herman. A few years later, those same readers helped me celebrate 6 new puppies born in our bedroom. Two of those puppies still live with us, along with their mother. I see a little bit of Herman in all them; something that has helped heal my broken heart. Since Family Webicine was my only social network, friends and family would read my blogs to find out what was going on in my life.
My blog readers followed me through four of my own surgeries; two for kidney stones and two for a torn rotator cuff. I am facing a third surgery on my rotator cuff since the first two failed. I spared no feelings about experiencing medical mistakes that happened during those surgeries. When medical providers become patients, we get to experience our troubled health system first-hand.
For those of you who have taken time to read my blogs and especially those who made comments, I thank you (even if some of those comments were not complimentary). When someone takes the time to write a comment or rebuttal, I knew that I was covering a topic that sparked interest. Those comments helped me become a better person; a better clinician.
I have not given up writing. I have a few books in the computer that need to be finished, and I hope to write a health articles for several newspapers. I will still have an active presence on WebMD as long as they need me. I hope to will remain an active contributor to WebMD Answers. As long as people have questions, and I have the answers, I will post a response.
Old clinicians never stop practicing (or writing). I suspect I will have ample opportunities to suture up more of my grandchildren, treat their infections, or cast their broken arms. There will always be family medical questions to answer and more stories to write about. Every person on this planet has their stories but few take the time to write them down. I will always be grateful to WebMD for twisting my arm to write down at least some of my stories. If you have stories, you should be writing them down, too.
I have a retirement countdown calendar in my office: 121 “working weeks” before I finally hang up my stethoscope and turn my lab coat into a car rag, I will have practiced medicine for nearly 44 years. That’s a long time, folks, and I have to say it has been a great run. I will miss my patients, and I will miss my WebMD “patients”, too.
Thank you so very much for sharing a decade of my life and medical career.
I have a patient waiting.