When people reach middle age, they often begin asking themselves a series of deep, soul-searching questions: Am I leading a meaningful life? Did I choose the right career? Should I buy cherry or orange Metamucil?
Lately, I’ve found myself pondering these and other questions during those rare, quiet moments in the day when I’m not otherwise occupied dancing the Macarena.
The career issue weighs most heavily on my mind because—and I’ve never told this to anyone, particularly not the judge presiding over that pesky sanity hearing—I honestly believe my true calling was to be a physician.
My potentially brilliant career as a healer was cut short, however, when I heard about this whole medical school/residency/might-have-to-touch-individuals-with-germs requirement.
But, as it’s never too late to pursue your dreams, at long last, I’m entering the medical field. Which is to say, I recently bought a computer game called Emergency Room.
Set in a hospital emergency room, this game is designed to help you become more knowledgeable about the human body, as well as the diagnosis and treatment of various illnesses/injuries.
As the manufacturer points out, however, the game “is not a guide for medical self-diagnosis or treatment.” Unless, of course, you belong to a health maintenance organization.
(Obviously, I’m kidding. In fact, I recently joined an HMO because, based on all I’ve read, chances are I’m going to croak at some point anyway.)
Here’s how the game works: You start out as a medical student working in Legacy Memorial Hospital’s emergency room. One point is awarded for every patient who is successfully discharged. If a patient must be taken away from you for improper care, or worse, because he or she is uninsured, no points are given. And if a patient actually succumbs while under your care, points also are not awarded, but your résumé will be forwarded to that Kevorkian dude. The goal is to earn 50 points and be named chief of staff.
For each case, you must take the following steps:
1. Select a patient.
2. Perform overall assessment.
3. If necessary, order lab tests and/or X-rays.
4. Develop and implement treatment plan.
5. Discharge patient.
6. Make many disparaging remarks about various regions of the patient’s anatomy.
My first patient was a 23-year-old gentleman who was experiencing an earache. After determining that the pain was emanating from his left ear, I developed a treatment plan designed to ensure, first and foremost, that the strapping young buck would need to completely disrobe in my presence.
As this point, Dr. D. Boss, who assesses your performance throughout the game, informed me that my “work is not up to par. Now, go back to the waiting room, and do a better job this time.”
Back in the waiting room, I was immediately filled with the sense of pride that comes from knowing there are plenty of people who are way stupider than you are, specifically: a 45-year-old man who was mowing the lawn in bare, feet and somehow got his foot caught in the blades; a 50-year-old skier bravely clinging to life after a harrowing weekend during which his ears got badly sunburned; and a 44-year-old shoe salesman who was trying to clean his ear with a straightened paper clip and “pushed too far”.
Having quickly concluded that none of these individuals could be trusted alone in a room with a tongue depressor, I selected a woman who had cut her finger while slicing vegetables. After conducting a thorough examination, I determined there were essentially two options: (1) Cleanse the wound, anesthetize, irrigate, suture, apply antibiotic cream and bandage; or (2) Go to the doctor’s lounge for free eats.
When I returned from the lounge, Dr. Boss announced, “Your treatment of this patient was substandard, doctor. I can see you will have to improve your skills considerably to be part of the team here at Legacy Memorial Hospital.”
Clearly, the man has never seen me do the Macarena.
And I’ve never been admonished by a game before, but I’ll just have to consider the source.
Bye for now