Remove your own appendix

It was a glorious early morning today in Calgary, crisp and clear, with an enormous harvest moon glowing orange just above the western horizon, crowned by millions of stars just beginning to wink out in obeisance of dawn.

Despite the grandeur, I found myself imbued with a touch of melancholy as I drove my eldest daughter to her 7 am volleyball practice.

The vestiges of my most recent emergency department shift, completed only eight hours earlier, were still clinging to me, I suppose.  The ancient notion that full moons are attended by evil spirits seemed almost a verifiable truth, as my caseload was heavily peppered with troubled children caught in the crossfire of family strife, suicidal youth, and capped by a five-year-old boy whose skull was fractured by his very own father.

Not easy to shake that stuff, despite the magnificence of the heavens.

I’m also perhaps still a bit wounded by a comment made a few days ago by someone close to me, who ventured this nugget:  “I remember when you used to care about underprivileged people.”

This in response to my recent and frequent posts in support of the thousands of Canadian doctors upset about tax changes being foisted upon them by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.  Apparently, since I’ve had the audacity to stand up for our profession, to protest that we are not tax dodgers and tax cheats, to decry the daily demonizing of physicians in our venerable House of Commons, that makes me a grubby, petty capitalist concerned primarily with lining my deep pockets with the hard-earned dollars of taxpayers.

And this week brings the dispiriting news that the divisive and dishonest class warfare techniques employed by our current government have been successful in deceiving our fellow citizens: 49% of Canadians evidently are in agreement that “fat-cat doctors” and small business owners are not paying their “fair share” of taxes.

So I can be forgiven a bit of melancholy, I think.

With all that good cheer as a backdrop, I turned my attention today to a revision of my high school “Career Days” speech.

In the halcyon days of yore, before our trust-fund-endowed leaders exposed us for what we are, doctors were esteemed as leaders; as people of achievement and integrity; as holder of positions to which young people might actually aspire.

My invitation to “Career Days” has not yet been rescinded, however, and so an adaptation of my usual remarks is in order.  Needed inspiration comes from an excellent piece penned by Elliot Levine entitled “Mr. Morneau, your analysis is incomplete.”

The eloquence angle needs some work – I’ve never been accused of being overly polished – but here’s the thrust of the matter:

“Thank you once again for inviting me to speak to you.  

My message to you today is simple:  

Don’t “reach for the top.”

Don’t strive to excel.

Don’t “try, and try again, if at first you don’t succeed.”

Don’t become entrepreneurs.

Don’t dare to think that you can build a successful small business.

And certainly don’t dream of becoming a doctor.

Don’t sacrifice years of your life in unnecessary toil or sacrifice or study.

Imagination, innovation, perseverance, ingenuity… all those things are overrated.

Instead, become a civil servant.  

All of your needs will be met.  You will want for nothing.  

Secure income, paid vacations, fully financed and elongated maternity leave, reasonable and regular working hours, excellent health and dental benefits, complementary self-improvement courses, and, in the end, a platinum pension, fully indexed to the rate of inflation,  to nourish your golden sunset years.  All these things can be yours.

You’ll be able to rest, blissfully and securely, in the everlasting arms of our government.

Just one tiny note of caution:  don’t get sick.   Because we will no longer be training doctors, after all.

Don’t worry overly much about that last bit.  I have it on good authority that “wikiHow” is set to publish a new piece, entitled “How to remove your own appendix.”  It’s called the Morneau technique.  Good luck with that.

For everything else, we have the peerless Dr. Google, under whose expert guidance all symptom pathways lead assuredly to death.  There is, after all, nothing more certain in life than death, and, under this government: Much. Higher. Taxes.

Thank you, and good luck.  You’re gonna need it.

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