Sex, Drugs, and EHRs
Within hours of arriving home from a short tour of the southern states with the wonderful Randy Newman, my roommates and I were called back to our Baltimore-based shop to immediately repack the truck and drive non-stop to Florida. Our sister sound company from Washington state was touring with the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and the Charlie Daniels Band and needed some extra equipment for an outdoor show at the old Tampa Stadium.
Thus, the three of us headed right back to load the truck and begin the 24-hour drive: Jack, my towering, hair-to-his-butt sound engineer friend and housemate. Marcy, Jack’s long-time friend and roomie (and now mine) who comes along as moral support and driver keeper-upper. And me, an 18-year-old rock-n-roll roadie and audio engineer from the sticks of southern Ohio living large the rock-n-roll life of the 1970s.
Arriving late to the stadium courtesy of a tow truck for the final fifty miles thanks to a busted front axle on our rig, we find we have but two hours to get showered and settled before we begin set-up. The early morning start is assisted by one of the road crew’s “Drawer of Wonders,” a 10” by 12” by 2” deep drawer in one of the stage cases that, literally, is filled to the brim with every color, shape, and size of pill you could possibly imagine. “Help yourself,” were the only instructions.
The very long day that followed led to a great evening concert under a beautiful Tampa moon. However, many days on the road driving and humping large pieces of sound gear around along with minimal sleep on the nights between had led to a very big fade on my part. I didn’t think I’d be worth anything by tear-down time. Until, that is, I saw Cheryle.
Cheryle (I even found the superfluous “e” sexy) was a 29-year-old Baton Rouge beauty who had come to Tampa to see an old friend. She had long auburn hair that was silky and straight, a seductive southern drawl, and was about the most sensual and sultry creature I’d ever laid my young eyes upon. How she’d gotten backstage I don’t remember, but it was desire at first sight. After some heavy conversational intercourse (and some even heavier necking in a stand of bushes nearby,) it was clear we each had found a soul mate, at least for tonight.
Remember that “big fade” I mentioned? Ha! The sapped-energy sad sack was replaced by a stage-stripping madman. I was heaving giant speaker boxes around as if I’d received transfusions from both Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire. My roommates were in disbelief when I told them I hadn’t hit “The Wonder Drawer,” but was energized by romance. Four legendary days later (thanks to a layover as the axle was repaired,) when Cheryle and I finally left each other’s company, my friends had become believers. They saw how I almost floated to the truck as we headed out.
Flash forward, 2009.
The ex-roadie, sound man, rock-n-roller is now a small-town pediatrician. The only drug drawers I now encounter hold dwindling samples from pharmaceutical companies for my patients or the triptan du jour for my chronic cluster headaches. I have married the woman of my dreams and adore my sons, though I admit to avoiding full disclosure conversations about my past with any of them. Perhaps most amazingly, I have been blessed enough to recognize a prolonged passion that, while not as meteoric as the hormonally-driven adventures of my youth, is nonetheless just as pronounced and just as exciting.
This moment in healthcare time is historic. If you are in healthcare and have even a smidgeon of geek in your soul, I hope you, too, are just as aroused. Struggling through the birth pangs of HIT can be admittedly frustrating and exasperating, but the promise of the “baby” we are attempting to deliver is almost incalculable. The benefits we’ll bring to our patients — to each other! — and the additional insights and knowledge we’ll add to the global healthcare database will exponentially rise once we unravel the HIT Gordian knot. Such an amazing opportunity to help so many people the world over with the combined efforts of each little one of us has never before existed.
Personally, I find that being a part of this early time in the “Age of EHRs” to be as exhilarating and as awe-inspiring as any moment from my youth. It gets me out of bed with rare need of an alarm and helps me overlook the frustrations of our still paper-based medical world. OK, maybe it won’t generate any majorly romantic tales to tell my grandkids, but at least full disclosure will rarely be an issue. Guaranteed, the outcome will be far more world-shaking than any rock-n-roll weekend … except maybe that one on Yasgur’s Farm.
From the trenches…
“I wouldn’t recommend sex, drugs, or insanity for everyone, but they’ve always worked for me.” – Hunter S. Thompson
Dr. Gregg Alexander is a grunt-in-the-trenches pediatrician and geek. His personal manifesto home page…er..blog…yeh, that’s it, his blog – and he – can be reached throughhttp://madisonpediatric.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.