Tuesday 12 November 2013


I have a confession to make: the title of this post is utter plagiarism.  I admit it.  I blatantly stole it from a reader named Emily (not her real name) who sent me an email with that same cryptic subject line.  If you feel the need, you may turn me into the Blog Plagiarism Police, even though Emily gave me permission to reprint her email, so actually you can't.  Ha!  So there!  And now that we have that little legal matter out of the way, Emily brought up a very good question, one that I previously hadn't really thought much about.  And as everyone (except my patients) knows, thinking is good.

Subject: WWDBD (What Would DocBastard Do)
Hello! My name is Emily {still not her real name} and I would love your input on my sticky situation since it sounds like you love your job just as much as I love my job.  I am 20-ish years old {not her real age} and I am a surgical tech.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE my job, and couldn't imagine doing anything else.  Part of why I went into the medical field is because I have spent A LOT of time in the hospital and I wanted to give back.  I was born with a congenital heart disease called Tetralogy of Fallot.  No big deal.  I had an open heart surgery when I was 7.  Haven't had any big problems other than needing a pacemaker, which I got a couple of years ago.  But just in the past 10 months, the shit hit the fan.  I was put on the transplant list 4 months ago, which I always knew would happen sometime in my life.  However, I did a complete 180 and was delisted and am just being followed in transplant clinic medically.  My transplant surgeon was VERY adamant that I find a new career because of the risk of getting a dirty needle stick and contracting HIV or hepatitis C.  I will eventually need a transplant, and I know that if I were to get HIV or hepatitis I would either A) not be able to accept a heart or B) die from the disease when I'm immunosupressed.  When my transplant surgeon told me this, I simply asked him what the overall goal of a transplant patient is.  His response was to get the patient back to their original normal life.  I just smiled and said, "But scrubbing is my normal life."  As of right now I'm still scrubbing.  I double glove, I'm cautious, but I can't predict when those damn surgeons decide to throw something. {N.b. We do NOT do this.  Much.}  So Doc, what would you do?  Scrub or find a new career?

Well isn't that an interesting question wrapped in a quandary surrounded by mystery engulfed in an enigma immersed in a puzzle deep fried in a predicament dipped in ranch dressing.  Yes, ranch dressing.  Everything is better dipped in ranch dressing. 

Anyway, after thinking carefully I gave her a long, well-thought out, elaborate (ie boring) reply.  I'll give you the short short version of what I told her: do what you love.  Unless you love robbing banks or smacking puppies.  No, "smacking puppies" is not a euphemism, you sick bastard.  

Finding a career you like is hard enough, but finding one you love is next to impossible. The theoretic risk of getting slashed in the jugular by a blood-soaked, scalpel-wielding surgeon is always there, but living in fear of that is useless, unless  of course you're working with Dr. NickDr. Hannibal Lecter, or Dr. Evil.  And if you're working with one of those guys, you have much bigger problems than getting pierced with an HIV-infected needle.  Come on, folks . . . They're fictional.

But think about it this way: do you want to live your life in fear of what may happen, or would you rather just live your life?  Don't misunderstand me here.  I am NOT in any way advocating this YOLO lifestyle that seems to be all the rage nowadays.  But if you're going to slave away for 8-12 hours a day, you may as fucking well enjoy it if you can. 

And for any YOLO morons out there thinking "He's right!  I only live once!  I should jump off a bridge because hey, it's there!" . . . yes.  Go jump off that bridge.  But don't bother with that pesky parachute or the annoying bungee cord.  They tend to be unreliable anyway. 


  1. I wish the people that say "YOLO" really would go jump off a bridge.

  2. Doc, you type these on a phone?! How the hell can you do that without wanting to cut your hands off?!

    1. Where did it say he used his phone? I must have missed it…

    2. The Wikipedia links lead to the mobile site ;)

    3. I sometimes type portions on my mobile when I get the inspiration. Thanks for pointing this out.

  3. Good advice and I LOVE the spaceballs link!
    I'm very ill at the moment but as soon as I can get out there I WILL find a job I LOVE, life is to short to be miserable.


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