Blog | Monday, October 29, 2012

Like my doctoring? Thank my wife


Sunrise yesterday was beautiful. Maybe it was my mood, or the tail end of Hurricane Isaac. Either way, coffee and a sunrise is a nice way to start a day.

Medicine was particularly good to me and my patients this week. I was able to give lots of good news, and bad news was tempered by my ability to briefly bend the broken health care system to my will.

My ability to devote my full attention to patients derives in no small part from my wife. We are in the midst of moving, PalKid is starting school, and MrsPal is the default home manager. By taking on that role, she is helping my patients as much as I am. When you see a married male doctor, please remember that because of the way our society views gender roles, he is often able to care for you because of his wife.

I have cut back a bit on my hours, which gives me more time with the family. Last night while my wife worked on planning the move, I got PalKid showered, removed her nail polish (gold on the hands, pink on the feet), blew her hair dry. I loved every second of it, but once again, is was fundamentally a choice. If I hadn't done it, or I had been at work, the duties would have fallen to my wife by default.

I have no idea how to change this in my household or in our society, but I do keep trying to remind myself that it would help if both parents stopped thinking of one or the other as the "real" parent. I often fail at this, but hope to keep improving.

Peter A. Lipson, ACP Member, is a practicing internist and teaching physician in Southeast Michigan. After graduating from Rush Medical College in Chicago, he completed his internal medicine residency at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. This post first appeared at his blog, White Coat Underground. The blog, which has been around in various forms since 2007, offers "musings on the intersection of science, medicine, and culture." His writing focuses on the difference between science-based medicine and "everything else," but also speaks to the day-to-day practice of medicine, fatherhood, and whatever else migrates from his head to his keyboard.