The man is a doctor. This is the least-examined chapter of his career. But suddenly it all makes sense: Where else but in medicine do you find men and women who never admit a mistake? Who talk more than they listen, and feel entitled to withhold crucial information? Whose lack of tact in matters of life and death might disqualify them for any other field?
As it happens, I've spent almost two decades observing politicians, whom on balance I quite like, and more recent years observing doctors, who . . . . Well, let's just say that mine is a grudge tenderly nurtured over two and a half years of illness, encompassing roughly 32 doctors in six hospitals, plus scores of the medical students, fellows, interns and residents in whom we can see the doctor in larval form.
A doctor who has told you one thing at Appointment A might propose an entirely different course of action at Meeting B. Fair enough -- except for the pretense that nothing has changed. It is the very rare doctor who will say, "I've changed my mind," or, "Sorry, I was wrong when I said X at our last meeting." Usually, what he said last time has simply become . . . inoperative.
Hey! And you know, Andrew Sullivan agrees with this assessment. He says compassionate, human doctors are few and far between. Well, I really hope some extra knowledge and some added responsibilities don't change me into a grouchy little dictator like Dean -- the patients seem to like me well enough, now.
I think what works well for me is I'm happy to admit I'm low on the totem pole and don't know much more than the layman. I get into trouble with people who want authority. And I get into trouble when I pretend to have it. For now.