By RHONDA SCHROCK
He’d awakened, miserable. “I couldn’t get to sleep,” he said, scratching an arm. It’s so itchy.”
Sure enough. On legs, arms and chest, red blotches had broken out. “That’s not poison ivy,” I said, knowing from painful experience. Filled with maternal concern, I sent him off to the doctor’s office, tossing the spaghetti grabber at his retreating back to aid in his relief efforts. “Here’s this,” I said. “You can keep it.”
Using my opposable thumbs, I messaged him. “Let me know,” I said, “what you find out.”
Using his own opposable thumbs, he texted back. “They think it looks like hives, that I reacted to something.”
“Meds?” I tapped out on the BOP (Bright Orange Phone).
“They’re giving me levocetirizine and told me to come back for ‘pregnazone’ if it persists.”
“Lord, have mercy,” I thought to myself. I’d been in the “pregnazone” myself. Four times. But it was certainly not something a physician could, would or should prescribe. “Giving thanks on bended knee that Kid Kaboom is not a doctor. Or a medical transcriptionist,” I said to my friends. And in offices, coffee shops and homes, they hooted and howled, highly entertained at the thought.
As a transcriptionist, I’d been listening to doctors for 10 years now, turning their squeaks, squawks and sneezes into accurate medical records. I certainly knew that prednisone, not pregnazone, could be prescribed for an angry, red rash. But typing it up was not the same as personally seeing an anxious scratcher, figuring out the ‘why’ behind the itch and then knowing what to order.
I was content where I was, that was sure. Happily tucked into my second-floor office with round two in my mug, I did what I was trained to do while they did what they were trained to do. And it worked.
It was important, I thought, to operate in one’s gifting. I’d not been gifted, called or equipped to be a physician, but I had great respect for those who were. These men and women took care of everything from scalp conditions to our plumbing and all that lay between. And for the most part, they maintained their good cheer.
I knew my limits. I knew how tempting it would be to use a square needle on a Grumpy Pants, an approach that didn’t fit with the Hippocratic Oath. Thankfully, I did know how to spell prednisone, even if I couldn’t prescribe it, and I was happier not seeing the rash. Everyone, it seemed, came out ahead this way.
Meanwhile, there are other folks doing God’s work, too, in places I’ve not been called. Like firefighters. I can only wish I was that brave and strong, but I’m not. Sitting in a corner crying, “Mommy!” in a time of crisis is not that helpful. And at 4 feet 11-1/2 inches, I could carry the water bottles, but that’s about it.
Then there’s this. I’m embarrassed to say it, but it’s the helmets. They’re so big. And heavy. And, well, they squish your hair. Which is why men who fight fires have buzz cuts. They don’t stand in front of a mirror, primping, poofing and spraying their hair when the bell ding-dings. They can’t. They slam the helmets on, cinch up those extra-heavy trousers and go.
And I? I’m in my corner office, hair uncrushed, cheerfully typing. In my not-heavy pants with no helmet, doing reps with my favorite mug.
On the other hand, I take consolation in this: while I can’t do what they do, they can’t do what I do, either. Mr. Schrock claims that I can type faster than he can think. That may be true. Without the software, my record was 96 words per minute. Then came the program that allowed me to insert entire sentences with several keystrokes, and the word count went through the roof. This, in spite of the, uh, challenges the doctors will throw.
In my darker moments, I wish I could dictate for them just once. This black, unworthy thought usually follows the round of bronchial pyrotechnics that’s just lifted me from my seat. I’d use barking dogs, kids playing tubas, the sounds of a car chase and gunshots going off in the background, all while I’m dictating a report. “Type that,” I say to the imaginary physician as I wait for my heart rate to drop.
I’d never do it, of course. After all, these are the folks who deliver our children, palpate our spleens and check our rashes, and they surely deserve our respect.
So do mechanics, the fellows who fix up our cars, another job I could never do. You have to know stuff, see, like where the alternator is, and how to fix transmissions. All I know is that mine starts to splutter by 10 if I don’t get caffeine. Just don’t ask me to find yours.
The moral here is that no one can do everything. And no one should try. You do what you’re good at. I’ll do the same, and together we’ll get the job done.