When I started writing this blog 18 months ago, I did so on a whim. I enjoyed posting race reports on our bike team’s e-group. Writing in race-report vernacular, to an e-group of friends, made me laugh. There was zero pressure.
Then, I learned about this thing called blogger. They had a ‘publish’ button, which someone told me would launch my words onto the world-wide-web. One of the teenagers on the team said you could even install a site-meter to measure how many people visit your site.
That all sounded cool, adventurous even. Like riding a new trail, or using a new ablation catheter.
I liked the sensations that writing gave me. Having my own blog was cool. I wanted to continue writing, but it soon seemed that most of the interesting topics on cycling had been covered. You can only drone on so much about lactate thresholds, the benefits of eating blueberries, and having ideal tire pressure.
That’s when I thought about medical writing. Though I like riding my bike(s), I really love doctoring much more. Plus, I am a far better doctor than cyclist.
Yes…’Doctoring’ does provide a seemingly endless source of blog topics.
Great. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll share stories, a non-Ivy-league-level review of science, and a hefty dose of real-world experience. The hope goes that some may find such information helpful.
But that’s when things got more complicated. As more people read what you write about serious medical issues, the paradox is that the simple act of publishing gets harder. Harder on four fronts:
My pride is wounded every time someone tells me of a typo–I hate typos, but they seem to have infected my genome. And, you would think that learning about using the active voice, avoiding pedantic medical words that end in -ion, and constructing short sentences would make writing easier. No, it’s the opposite. I used to sit down, type out a conversation, and hit ‘publish.’ Done. Grin. Move on, let’s go ride. Now, not so much. You see, occasionally, a smart person stumbles onto my blog, and I don’t want to look like a doctor who only knows how to move catheters in the heart.
Your AF is indeed a problem, but when you weigh 350 pounds, can’t move because of joint problems, drink 6 beers each night, and refuse to wear an unsexy CPAP mask, no amount of burns to your heart will help. I want to help, but successful heart therapy requires that patients choose to help themselves. Talking about the role of personal responsibility in one’s own health without being perceived as an insensitive obesity-basher gets tricky.
I’m a forest guy. The big picture always seems more clear to me than the trees. That’s both a strength and a weakness. A blog post written by a busy real-world doctor should not be confused with a New England Journal review. I’ll try my best to report precisely, but accept the disclaimer that I’m just a regular doctor–one who moves heart catheters, implants devices, and tries to convince Kentuckians that they can prevent most of their heart problems with good lifestyle choices.
I used to flaunt my un-conflicted status. Independent. “No relationships to disclose.”
It’s just me, @drjohnm, you all.
But that was when I worked for a private practice Cardiology group. Now, like most heart specialists, I am employed by a large hospital. They are good people that are easy to like. We have a great relationship. A few years ago, as president of the medical staff, I sat on their Board of Directors for a two-year term. This experience exposed me first-hand to the pressure of running a hospital. That tension is much worse now. (Let me tell you, if you check hospital administrator on career day, you’d better have a strong heart.)
Every time I hit the ‘publish’ button, my employed status comes to mind. Like it or not, the reality is that permanently publishing medical matters on the Internet could make my employers job harder. I want to write, create and educate without harming my friends–friends that sign my paycheck. Friends that give me the chance to use my skills to help people.
I still amble through the day thinking how all this, or that, would make a great blog topic.
It’s just different now. Harder, but still a blast–like moving up a category in bike-racing.