American Snipered by Birdman that is Irony (Relevance)

Weird title, eh?  It’s supposed to be like one of those Wheel of Fortune puzzles.  Can’t remember the category but I always had trouble figuring them out.   Anyway, after watching Birdman recently I thought I needed to get a little artsy and confusing with my title.

So I was at a conference this last weekend and I always love how you can watch movies in your hotel room that have not been released on DVD, or should I say “for streaming.”  (Hard to believe “DVD” is now an ancient term.  Hate getting old.)  So my wife and I were browsing through the movies and there was Birdman.  Awesome.  I missed it while it was in the theatre and heard it was great and of course it had to be great because it won best picture.  So, we paid the $17.99 crazy fee and watched it.

Two plus hours later, the movie ended and as I sat up in my pillow-topped Westin bed leaning against all the extra pillows they give you (anybody know which pillow you are supposed to actually sleep on?) many different emotions flowed through me.  Confused and angry initially and if you’ve seen the movie you will understand.  Then a little sad.  Then I tried to think through the movie.  What was Birdman really all about?  What was it’s message?

Relevance?  Yes, it had a lot to say about relevance and man’s need to feel relevant.  Michael Keaton plays a fading and aging movie star who is trying to re-invent himself by writing, directing and starring in a Broadway play.  There were other themes, but certainly “man’s search for relevance” was one of them.  But what was the movie’s message about this theme?  I thought it was somewhat ambiguous.  And the more I thought about it, the more the movie really didn’t say anything.  It just told a story and let the audience decide for themselves what it meant.  Kinda like an old REM song.  And I think that was part of the point.  If the director reads this post he might well be pleased with himself.  He made me think about things for myself and that might have been what he set out to do.  But the more I thought about the movie the less relevant the movie became.  Is this getting too confusing?

It was for me too but then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  And here it is boiled down.  Read slowly

Birdman, a movie about man’s search for relevance, fails to BE relevant.  There is one layer of irony right there.  But wait, there is more.  This movie about relevance which fails to BE relevant beat out American Sniper, a movie that is chock full of relevance for the entire world, for best picture.  American Sniper is about a REAL person and a REAL war and the things portrayed are REALLY happening in the world and affect almost every single person in the world.  Pretty relevant, right?  Am I the only one who sees the elephant named irony in the room?

I searched Google, I really did.  I used “Birdman irony,” “Birdman beats Sniper ironic,” “Sniper snub irony,” and “Oscar’s irony 2015.”  I could not find a single blog post or article that points out this irony.  So, maybe I’m out on an island by myself here.  I will admit that when I watch movies like Birdman I kinda feel like I’m too stupid to understand them.  I felt that way when I saw a Cirque de Soleil show in Las Vegas also.

“Excuse me, garcon? Do I have to be a snobby Frenchman to understand what’s going on in this here show?”

So, all you artsy fartsy Birdman fans, feel free to write me off as a stupid country hick.  I don’t mind, really.

But maybe there is yet another layer of irony to all this.  Maybe Birdman IS relevant because it made me write this post.  It did make me think, I’ll give it that.  And, as if I needed another reason, it made me even more happy to serve people as an eye physician.  If you really think about it movie stars are just really high paid clowns.  They live to entertain people and I could understand if they might question their relevance.  I think the good actors probably believe in what they’re doing not to mention they like getting paid a ton of money.  But to stay good, you must stay passionate.  And to stay passionate, you must believe that what you are doing is important.  It seems to me that physicians, especially eye physicians, should have little trouble with this concept.  Days in the office may get mundane sometimes, but it would be hard to imagine that we could deny our importance.  We live and work to help people see better.  We get to cut on other people’s eyeballs and let them see things that haven’t seen in years, sometimes.  We get to help an elderly person clearly see their grandchild for the first time and give glasses to a pre-teen and watch as they notice leaves on trees for the first time.  So, as physicians, let us vow never to go all Birdman and question our relevance.  Let us proudly understand the relevance of our profession and be thankful that we get to participate within it.

Advertisements

Day Off

Yesterday was Monday and I was coming back to work from a four day vacation.  I was in a good mood and ready to work as I arrived but was not in my usual “Happy People” mood (see prior post).

As I walked in and began to take my coat off my front desk teammate was walking to the back of the office, stopped when she saw me and asked me what I was doing.  I asked her what she meant and she proceeded to explain to me that my schedule was blocked off and that I wasn’t supposed to be back until tomorrow (now today).

After I realized she wasn’t joking I began to formulate my plan for the rest of the day.  I went to my office and finished a few things on a todo list and then started looking over a few projects that I had written down ideas about months or years prior.

The moral of the story is to DOCUMENT ideas when you have them.  If you do not they will float away never to be remembered.  Here is what happened with the rest of my day.

Convention Syndrome

Tags

, ,

You ever see those big fish tanks in a doctor’s office or maybe a fancy restaurant? There are usually several smaller colorful fish that dart in and out of some pseudo-vegetation. Then there’s the small carp sucking the scum off the bottom of the tank (some people call these attorneys). And then sometimes there is something bigger. Maybe a small shark that swims slowly back and forth through the tank. He’s way bigger than the other fish and when you examine the tank, you stare at him and follow him as he swims. He swims as if he knows he’s the main attraction. The big fish.

Imagine that if every once in a while that small shark from the restaurant tank was scooped out and put into one of those big city downtown aquariums where 12 foot hammerheads swim next to 5 foot wide rays and 14 foot tiger sharks. Talk about a reality check.

So, there I was standing in the middle of the monstrous American Academy of Ophthalmology convention floor looking at a very slick new piece of equipment. I was sitting there talking to the equipment company rep and she was showing me how the equipment worked. I was getting excited, thinking about how it could really improve the efficiency in the office and provide a “wow” factor for patients. In short, I was thinking about how special we were and how much more special we would be once we got this piece of equipment. And that’s when a 14 foot tiger shark approached. A doctor from Philadelphia walked up and was instantly recognized by the company rep.

“Oh, hi Doctor Newman.” she said with a huge smile.

Wait a minute, you mean you know him better than me? I thought I was special?

“Dr. Newman, could you tell Dr. Mackey about our equipment?” She was still smiling.

I smiled dutifully and shook his hand.

“Yeah, we have four of them and we really love them. They have really helped us out.” He said it nonchalantly like he had not even noticed I was a small shark from a restaurant tank.

What? Are you kidding? You have four? Four? You must be rich. And if you are rich, you must be busy. Much busier than I am. Geez, I must be doing something wrong. Why don’t I already have four? I’m just thinking about buying ONE. ONE stinking piece of equipment, and this guys got four! I must be doing something wrong. I’m such a small fish. Why am I even here? Why do I even get excited? Ugh. I hate these conferences. Now I’m depressed. Anybody got a Prozac?

I finished the demonstration and walked away to my next class. Every once in a while someone would say something that made me feel pretty good about my practice but then the small fish scenario would rear it’s head again. The funny thing at these conventions is that I think there is something in the water that makes all the other fish look bigger. I’m pretty sure that most doctors at most conventions get the same feeling. Maybe they don’t verbalize it like I have, but the truth is there is a certain caution one must have and a certain reality that one must recognize at these conventions lest one suffer a diminution of one’s true importance.

Coming to a big convention is an altered reality. There are thousands of people who do the same thing you do in one place at the same time. It’s a fake reality that doesn’t exist under normal circumstances. As I walked around the convention floor contemplating these feelings pictures of my patients popped into my head and I smiled. I was that persons doctor, not Dr. Newman from Philadelphia. Then another face would surface in my mind. That person trusts me, not Dr. Newman from Philadelphia. I was feeling better. I realized that in my little tank, to my patients, I’m important and make a difference every single day. And every single doctor walking that floor can say the same thing. That’s the truth. That’s reality.

So, doctor, plumber and engineer beware. Computer programmer, restaurant owner and salesman beware. Convention syndrome is real. Convention syndrome can sap your enthusiasm. Convention syndrome can turn you into “average.” Remember who you serve and don’t give in.

Heretic

Let me lay some of my cards on the table.  I don’t like Obamacare.  For that matter, I don’t even like Medicare.  I think what I do has value on its own in the free market and I think government intrusion into my profession has had very bad, albeit unintentional, consequences.  I also believe I should be paid a lot of money for what I do.  But I digress, for that is another blog for another blogger on another day.

My point is that while I lament not having more freedom in the practice of medicine, I celebrate and strategize for my practice based on the freedom that I still do have.  As of this moment, October 3rd, 2014 at 12:33pm, I can see as many patients as I want.  If I wanted to, I could work until midnight and see 150 patients.  If I had the volume I could do 200 visual field exams every single week.  If I were a masochist and had the volume I could sit and do 100 cataract surgeries in a single day.  In addition to that, I can still drop any insurance plan I want.  And if I really wanted to, I could only take cash paying patients and charge whatever I please.  Those last things would certainly mean taking a deep pay cut, but I am still free to do it.  And patients still have some freedom also.  They can go to whatever doctor they want and pay cash and they still have some choice of doctor within their insurance network.

I know my peers are cringing right now.  I am a heretic.  A stupid, naïve, overly optimistic unicorn.  I don’t mean to rain on the whine and cheese party but where has whining gotten us?  A doctor friend recently responded to my “how are you?” greeting with “doing more work for less money.”  His response, while absolutely true, sets a tone.  That tone says “I am a doctor and I am getting screwed.  I should be making more money.  I should not have to do so much paperwork. ”

There are many of us who believe that because of these injustices we need to, or even MUST,  triple book our schedule and make patients wait for 3 hours in cramped waiting rooms.  I say we are free to do otherwise.  I know, go ahead, burn me at the stake.  Heretic.

Here’s the problem.  Patients are pissed off.  They are not stupid.  They see our sports car and our house.  They know we are making good money.  And they know we are making a lot more money when we triple book our schedules and make them wait for 3 hours.

“I’m really sorry I’m running behind.  You just never know what you’re gonna encounter and some patients take a lot longer than others.”

I’ve said that line many times and it is true, but if it’s true then some days you should be running AHEAD of schedule, right.  Do any patients actually take LESS time than you thought they would?  It’s hogwash and we know it.  We have control and we choose to overbook and run behind so we can see more patients and make more money.  There, I said it.  But remember, in the first paragraph I also said I thought I should be paid a lot of money for what I do.  So, which is it heretic?  Do you want to make the money you deserve or do you want to be considerate of your patients?

My answer is that I want to do both.  It may appear that cramming 100 patients into a single day will make me more money and it will.  But only in the short term.  If there are enough of us heretics out there, eventually those crammed waiting rooms won’t be so crammed.  If enough of us heretic doctors take hold of what I’m saying then patients will start using their freedom to choose our offices.  And then, when our schedules get booked out for weeks we will have a choice.  Turn to the status quo and start packing in more patients or expand and handle the success with a clear vision of “patient first.”  I want to provide the patient with an experience that says “I know your time is important” and I want to make a living that I think I deserve.  I am stepping out as a heretic because I think the pendulum has swung too far away from the patient.  Let’s use what freedom we have left to think of creative solutions that can preserve physician income AND respect patient experience.  Are you a heretic?  Are you with me?

I am not a leader. Um…..yes you are.

 “I am not a role model.  I am a basketball player.  I am paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court.  I am not paid to be a role model.  Parents should be role models.” 

Those were the words of Charles Barkley in a 1993 Nike commercial that was aired for the purpose of selling shoes to millions of young, impressionable boys who wanted nothing more than to be like Charles Barkley. 

Let’s review that again in case you didn’t catch the irony.  Nike paid Charles Barkley a lot of money to do a commercial.  Does anyone believe Nike aired this commercial to make a philosophical point?  No, of course not, they aired it because they believed that if people saw Charles Barkley associated with Nike then they would be more likely to buy Nike shoes and make the company more money.  They believed it was a good investment.  So, if Nike believed that Charles Barkley would get people to buy Nike shoes, then would it not follow that Nike also believed that people, especially young people, would want to emulate or “be like” Charles Barkley?  Of course.  And what is a role model?  Is it not someone that young people want to emulate?  Why, yes Dr. Mackey, it sure is.  And so Nike basically believes Charles Barkley is a role model and pays him a bunch of money to say that he is NOT a role model.  And I for one cannot believe that this was lost on Sir Charles himself.  This guy knows he IS a role model but gets on camera for money and says he is NOT a role model.  He should’ve said, “I’m a role model, but I’m not a very good one because I will lie for cash.”

The other negative that the commercial taught kids was that, hey, they can deny being a role model too and that makes it true and absolves them from any responsibility.  I mean, if Chuck says HE is not a role model, then I don’t think I’m one either.  If my little brother does what I do, that’s his problem, not mine.

Thing is, I love Charles.  I love him because he usually tells the truth.  After he retired from basketball and gained 100 pounds he publicly said it was because he was lazy and had gotten fat.  I still laugh over his self-depricating comment that “if you weigh 300 pounds, you are fat.  I don’t care how tall you are.  You weigh 300, you’re fat.”  His commentary during the NCAA tourney makes for some great TV and he likes Kentucky and Calipari.  I actually wonder, if looking back on it, he regrets making that Nike commercial.  We may never know, but that commercial brings up a bigger point and here it is:

Just because you deny it and don’t want it to be doesn’t mean it’s not true.  Truth is true whether someone says the opposite or not.  Truth is true no matter how much I don’t want it to be.

And here are a couple of truths.  Doctors are leaders.  Parents are leaders.  No matter how much they don’t want to be and no matter how much they deny it, they are.  Doctors, in their field, are the most educated, the highest paid and bear the brunt of the responsibility.  Staff look to them for decision making, encouragement and overall direction.  Even if you hire an office administrator to run your practice, you still OWN the practice and are the doctor.  You are still a leader.  Even if you work for a hospital or large group practice with a CEO, you are still a doctor.  You are still a leader.

Oh, and hey parents, pretty obvious isn’t it?  Those pesky little kids look up to you whether you want them to or not.  Sorry.  You are leading them somewhere, so why not somewhere great? 

With this in mind, I have been devouring leadership books for several years and continue to be struck at how the information and insight is so practical.  For everyone.  You don’t have to be the CEO of a multi-national company to read Good to Great by Jim Collins and benefit.  You don’t have to own your own business to read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and grow.  You could be a mom or a dad or a Sunday school teacher or a little league coach and come away with great ideas to become more effective at whatever you are doing. 

So back to my young doctor friends.  Don’t think you are going to finish residency, go to work for some big hospital and shrink away into the woodwork without anyone noticing.  It’s not gonna happen.  People are going to look to you for guidance and decision making and you are going to set an example.  Read some books on leadership, seize the day, set a good one.  And parents, don’t think that child will ignore all the bad stuff you do and concentrate on the good.  Nope.  They are watching.  All the time.  At what you DO.  Be intentional.  Set a good example. 

Lead.

 

 

Ode to the Appointment Schedule

Tags

, , ,

Oh great and powerful appointment schedule, your beauty is unsurpassed. 

You are the source of my power. 

I cannot resist your colorful templates.

You are the force that moves me. 

Your rectangular rainbow is hypnotic. 

When I see you filled to the brim I get giddy. 

Oh great and powerful schedule I am your liege.

I knew that communication was lacking in the office.  I knew that we probably needed to schedule a time to meet on a weekly basis.  But I sat there paralyzed, staring at the screen.   I just can’t do it.  I’ve gotta see these patients.  The schedule says we have to work.  We obviously don’t have time to schedule a weekly office staff meeting.

So several weeks went by and eventually I forgot about it, hypnotized by my full schedule into thinking everything was hunky dory.  And then my front desk staff came into my office and asked a question.  Something about contact lens policy.  There was confusion and someone else in the office had been saying it was to be handled one way and the front desk staff thought it should be handled in a different way.  It really doesn’t matter what question was asked, all that matters is that for some reason that event triggered some deep down courage in my soul that allowed me to………..hold onto your hats people…………block some time from our appointment schedule to allow for a weekly office meeting.

Time to preach now.

It is so elusive that an appointment schedule could become an idol in our lives, but it is so common.  In broader terms, it may not be a written or computerized schedule.  It may just be the rat race of life.  The thousand little things that you feel you MUST do every day that supplant the important things that you NEED to do.  If you remain blind to it, the neglected important things in your life become elephants in the room that can no longer be ignored and cause way more disruption than if you had just dealt with them in the beginning.

We now have office meetings every Friday morning from 8-8:30am.  There is no agenda other than to monitor bonus goals and discuss any large negatives or positives from the week.  Many times, someone on the team will share a wonderful story about something a patient said.  Other times we talk about difficult patients and laugh and vent.  The important thing is that we communicate.  Nothing is shoved into the corner and forgotten about.  Everything is discussed and solved.  I really credit these meetings for the friendly atmosphere we have in the office and the camaraderie.

So take a deep breath and say the following out loud.  “I am in control of my own schedule.”

Now, think of one really important thing you need to do but haven’t had time to do.  Now, and I mean right now, just do it.  Call your front desk staff or secretary or take out your iphone or pull up your Google calendar and block out some time on your schedule. 

Did you do it?  Did it hurt?  Or did it feel good? 

See, you really are in control.  Now, try it again.

The Big Head

Tags

, , ,

This is really hard for me to say but in my heart I know it’s true.  I’ve always been cocky.  I would prefer to use the term confident and sometimes my wife would prefer to use the term arrogant.  Whatever you want to call it, I don’t ever remember not being it.

A few days ago my wife reminded me of one of the last things my grandmother ever told me before she passed away.  I was in my ophthalmology residency and she was telling me how proud she was of me and someone (either my mom or wife) said, “Oh grandma, quit it.  You’ll give him the big head.”

I can still feel Grandma Brown’s warm hand firmly and lovingly pat my thigh and see her big smile as she said “Well, somebody has to have the big head.” 

After a successful day in the operating room which included 10 cataract surgeries and a glaucoma surgery, I was glowing and proud of my performance and I thought about what she said.  I was torn inside.  On the one hand we are told, especially as Christians, that we should be humble and meek but on another hand, as physicians, we learn that confidence is important.  I thought about a mentor of mine in residency who had some of the steadiest hands I’d ever seen.  But this mentor was so indecisive in the operating room that patient outcomes suffered and eyes that could’ve looked great after surgery looked……………..less than great.

I thought about that movie Flight where Denzel Washington played the drunk pilot whose skills and confidence under pressure saved the lives of his passengers.  And then I hypothetically thought of myself about to undergo eye surgery or heart surgery or brain surgery.  Would I want humble and meek or confident and cocky?  No question, I’d take the confident guy every time.

I know, I know, it depends on what I mean by “confident” and what I mean by “humble.”  I don’t want an overly arrogant and cocky surgeon who is going to be reckless.  But I also don’t want a wishy-washy, meek, indecisive surgeon cutting on me.

So, let’s stop slamming surgeons for being arrogant and start celebrating their confidence.  Because I think my grandma was right.  Somebody’s gotta have the big head.

 

Rockwelled

Tags

, ,

I love Norman Rockwell paintings, especially around Christmas.  They show us the idyllic Christmas that should be.  There’s the Christmas tree standing perfectly straight with every ornament in place.  There is a small table near an easy chair with a crumb-littered plate on top; leftovers from Santa’s cookie feast.  All the presents are perfectly wrapped and arranged around the tree, ready to be opened by smiling children with perfectly groomed hair.  Mother and father are smiling ear-to-ear having awakened, showered, dressed and prepared breakfast hours before the children woke up.

And so on Christmas Eve I envisioned a Norman Rockwell painting and what it would be like the next morning as all four of my kids came joyfully into the living room and gathered around the tree.  They would smile as they opened each present and say “thank you for working so hard Daddy and making this Christmas possible.  You are the greatest Daddy who ever lived.”  I would smile back and say, “I know kids.  Love you too.”

Of course, we stayed up a little too late wrapping presents on Christmas Eve and I am not really a morning person.  So, as I rolled out of bed at 6:30AM on Christmas morning, all I really wanted to do was go back to sleep.  But a cup of coffee perked me up and I went and took my place in my chair in front of the Christmas tree.  Hazel (8) and Silas (3) sat by the tree and found their presents.  They waited patiently for their older brothers to come downstairs like all good kids would in any Rockwell painting.  So far, so good.

Then Camden (11) came barreling down the stairs, obviously very excited.

“Wait for me!” he shouted as he ran into the living room.

I sat a few feet from him and he stood directly in front of the tree between me and the other kids.  He started scanning the bottom of the tree for his presents and then all of the sudden his eyes got very wide and a second later he put his hand up to his mouth as vomit came gushing out.  To his credit he was able to keep most of the puke in his hands and on his pajamas as he ran to the bathroom in horror.  Hazel immediately started crying and Silas just stared in disbelief.  I’m sure my faced curled up as panic and disgust came over me and I yelled at my wife.

“Honey……………uh………………can you come in here?  Camden threw up.   Please.  Um………….can you do something?  I think some got on the rug.”

My wife sprang into action.  Some vomit had fallen on the rug in front of the tree and she wisely threw the rug out of the way and inspected the area.  Presents were OK, other kids were OK.  Hazel was still crying, though, horrified that her brother was sick on Christmas morning and also from the shock of what she just witnessed.  Silas and I just sat there staring.  We had all been “Rockwelled.”  That’s my term for what happens when some event or person or trip or thing that you have romanticized in your head turns out way worse that you anticipated. 

Camden cleaned himself up and changed clothes and immediately began insisting that Christmas was not ruined and that he felt fine now that his stomach was emptied.  He was even aggravated at Hazel for crying at all.  There was a verbal scuffle that added to the tension but then things calmed down.  Turns out he was OK and Christmas morning proceeded if not like we had all pictured it.  But that’s OK. 

Getting Rockwelled kinda keeps things exciting when you think about it. 

Family Practice

Tags

,

So your Dad is a doctor, eh?  And you grew up with everyone asking you if you were going to be a doctor too, eh?  And you got pretty good grades and a decent MCAT score and it seemed like a natural thing to apply to med school, eh?  And you got in.  Imagine that. 

Nice job young man.  Nicely done young lady.

And now your Mom or Dad expects you to move back home and join the practice or take over the practice when he or she retires, right?  They are telling you how great you will do financially and how wonderful everything will be, right?

Here is my advice.  Don’t do it.  Don’t even think it over.  Become a missionary.  Run away.  And don’t look back.  Ever.  It’s the same advice I would give people who want to go make some money at the racetrack.

I remember as a college freshman going to Keeneland for the first time.  Keeneland has got to be one of the most beautiful horse tracks in the world.  Situated in the countryside of Fayette county Kentucky amidst rolling green hills and clumps of oaks and maples it would be a great place to just have a picnic.  Some friends and I were there on a perfect autumn day and I studied my racing program front to back.  Pretty soon I knew how to read the race info and figured out roughly how the odds were calculated for each race.  I placed my first two dollar bet on a horse to show and I won 84 cents!  Throughout the afternoon I placed several more two dollar bets and I was ahead six dollars for the day as the horses for the last race made their way to the starting gate.  Me and my friends decided to pool our money and go for the big bucks.  Six bucks on an exacta (for you non-horseracing people that means you bet on the horses that will finish first and second in that exact order).  We won and split a whopping $134 and left the track that day with huge smiles on our faces and a warped sense of what usually happens at Keeneland.  Thousands of others lost money that day.  But we got lucky, even if we didn’t realize it.

I’ve been lucky with the family business thing too.  After finishing residency training I came home and joined the family practice with my father.  Eleven years later we are still practicing together and here’s something that will sound weird.  It’s been mostly very rewarding and wonderful but not because of me.  In fact, mostly in spite of me.  I’m just plain lucky.  My Dad may be the most patient man in the world not to mention the most humble.  He has deferred to me time after time.  He has bowed to my wishes so often it’s almost embarrassing.  He has, for the most part, been the one that has kept things from going haywire.  So far, I have escaped the perils of a family business with relationships intact.

What can I say?  I’m a lucky guy.  But I’m not dumb enough to think it’s anything more than that.

 Most people are not so lucky.  One or the other party will inevitably have differing expectations of what should happen and communication about these expectations will be lacking.  When things don’t go as expected, feelings get hurt and relationships are damaged, sometimes beyond repair. 

So, listen very carefully.  Go to the racetrack, walk around and admire the beauty of the horse.  And keep your money in your pocket.  Likewise, visits your parents often.  Go on vacation with them even.  Let them keep your kids for you.  But do your own thing.  Don’t join the family business.  It’s not worth the risk.

Don’t tell anyone, but I love New Orleans.

Tags

, , , ,

Have you ever liked something and felt guilty about it? It was several months ago that someone told me that the TV show The Walking Dead was a really good show. So I watched the first episode of the first season on Netflix and then told my wife about the show. The next night we watched the first and second episodes of the first season. She was hooked. Then a few nights went by and we got busy and didn’t get to watch it. One night we were in the kitchen washing dishes all by ourselves. The kids had gone to bed. The house was very quiet. I stood there drying the dishes while she washed at the kitchen sink and then quite abruptly she looked over at me, bent her head forward and pursed her lips over to the side.

“You wanna watch…….the show?” She said in a muffled voice like she just offered me a snort of cocaine.

I chuckled and said “Sure honey. You know the kids are all asleep in bed upstairs right? You don’t have to whisper.”

We both laughed.

That is kind of how I feel about liking the city of New Orleans. If you say you really love New Orleans to someone they will automatically think “oh yeah, you must be a partier. I bet you like to get drunk and go to girly bars and stay up all night.” You almost have to be careful who you tell. I just got back from the American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting in New Orleans. I had a great time. And I only set foot on Bourbon Street in order to walk to Arnaud’s restaurant for brunch. Let me lay out the case for liking the city of New Orleans.

1. You can stay downtown New Orleans and walk almost everywhere.

2. If you can’t walk somewhere you can take the streetcar one way for $1.25 or three dollars and ride all day long.

3. In the French quarter, there is street after street of really good musicians, magicians and entertainers. You can watch them for free or you can give ’em a tip.

4. There is a lot of United States history in New Orleans

5. The World War II museum. Unbelievable. Humbling. Stay all day.

6. The restaurants.

7. The restaurants.

8. The restaurants.

And this is yet another reason it’s awesome being a doctor. National meetings in great cities. So there, I said it, I’m a Baptist deacon and I love New Orleans. Not the “drunken, prostitution, smell of vomit, crumbling infrastructure and crime-ridden” New Orleans, but the other New Orleans I love. And I love having a job that allows me to travel and be educated and enjoy unique cities.