Monday, April 28, 2008
It has taken me almost 70 years, but I finally found about three doctors that I really like and respect: my family doctor, my cardiologist and my podiatrist. The others I see are OK - as good as it gets in South Jersey so far as I can tell. Even the doctors I see here, when they are sick, go up to Philly to be treated. Years ago I worked in hospitals and I knew a lot of doctors - good, bad and mediocre. But they weren't my doctors. We did have a truly wonderful one on Long Island for about twenty years. But the best ever was the General Practitioner my family had when I was growing up.
Dr. Lampe (There's an accent over the "e" but I don't know how to do that on a computer.) had his home and office in downtown Philadelphia. We lived in the suburbs. But any time we called, he would come out to us. He was much like the doctor in a Norman Rockwell painting. He wore a three piece, brown pin striped suit, was a bit rotund, wore his glasses down on the end of his nose, and he had an old, worn, brown bag full of medical paraphernalia, plus a tube of pink pills. No matter what else he gave you for whatever was wrong with you, he always gave you a few of those wonderful, pink pills. They worked like magic to make you feel better. He even gave me a few extra for my dolls. He was also a great believer in the power of potato soup. Mother would tell him that I did not like potato soup, and he would say, "Then give her mashed potatoes."
When I needed a vaccination or an inoculation, we would go into the city to his office. I've never figured out how he could have office hours when he was always running out to patients' houses. His house reminded me of my Aunt Emmy's house, except that it was not part of a row. Inside, it had dark paneling and dark furniture in the waiting room. He had no receptionist. When it was our turn, he would open the sliding double doors and summon us into the office where we would sit by his desk and discuss our needs, then he would take us through another door to the examining room.
I always enjoyed the trip to the city, and never minded the shots at all. I loved Dr. Lampe.
In the 30's and 40's family doctors knew us inside and out - knew our homes and families and all of our problems, physical and otherwise. They knew us as individuals, which often allowed them to treat us more successfully, even without modern day medicine. Today's doctors are laboring under huge caseloads and constraints from so many regulations it must make their heads spin. They really don't have the time to treat us as they should, even when they dare. I do not envy today's doctors. And, as one of today's patients, I am not too happy living in the Age of the Specialist.