Perhaps more than one even.
Yes, the following will for sure, rank up as one of my LEAST proud moments.
First, let me say that I am really proud to be a doctor. I am proud to have survived med school (including the 12 hour day all 3rd year students had to spend doing PAP smear after PAP smear on well paid “teaching consultants”–I will never forget the deftness with which Tanya inserted a speculum into her own vagina while lying flat on her back). I am proud to have survived residency (including the day during my surgical rotation where I was asked by my senior resident to “wrap those little hands around this long, hot pulsing…..aorta.) I am proud of the practice I have built and the lives I have impacted.
So, when I am asked what I do, I will sometimes put my head down a little, smile inwardly and shrug in humility while murmuring “oh, I’m a doctor.” Inside though I am a thousand feet tall and want to shout “Do you know what I had to do to get here?? I AM A DOCTOR!”
Once on a flight to Florida with my sister, a stewardess hurriedly asked for a doc to step forward.
In the Hollywood version of this story, my sister sitting next to me puts her hand on my arm and said “Not this time, Cat–you have done enough in this world. Don’t stand up.” I push her off and charge to the front of the plane where I deftly perform CPR as sweat pools on my brow. I am rewarded with a standing ovation at 30,000 feet and a year of free air travel.
The real version: some guy passed out from throwing down too many bloody mary’s. After laying him in the aisle, identifying a pulse and slapping him awake, I shuffle back to my seat in the coach section. I climb over the lady in the aisle seat who wordlessly says “Seriously, you need a medical degree to slap a drunk guy?” No one is impressed.
That though does not top this most recent mortifying experience.
While at one of my sons sporting events , a kid got hit in the face. He immediately crumpled to the floor before a hushed crowd. No one moved except the little boys mother who ran to her son’s side. The coach dutifully obtained a handy ice pack. I sat on the edge of my seat, my heart pounding and waited. As coaches circled the boy and his mother looked more and more concerned, I knew what I had to do. With a clear head and slightly shaking hands I knelt in front of Hadley: “Honey, I need you to sit very still. That little boy is hurt and Mommy is going to see if she can help him.” I stand, straighten my coat and walk across the wide open, silent gymnasium to where the boy is lying.
With a voice that is clear with resolve and just a touch too loud with hubris, I announce to the coaches and the boy’s mother “I AM A DOCTOR. HOW CAN I HELP?”
I know something is very wrong by the way they ALL stare at me silent. There is no look of relief. No crowd parts to let me through. Just silent stares. Finally, after a long long time, the boy’s mother stands up. She is very very tall. She smiles kindly. Ever so subtly, she bends closer to my ear and says “Thanks, but I am a pediatric trauma surgeon at CHOP—I got this.”
Boy was that a loooooooong walk back to my seat and to Haddie.
She doesn’t look up from her iPod but says “Didn’t have to do too much work that time did ya Mom?” No, No. Not very much at all.