Posts Tagged ‘Dr. David Allen’

Not Dr. Allen.

I thought we’d make a left turn (as we often do here) and do a Q & A with Dr. David Allen, a loyal reader and sometimes contributor to Shoe: Untied. He’s spent several years in the ER so I know he’s seen some cool, interesting and disgusting stuff. Incidentally, those three words have often been used to describe this website, so I thought a sit-down was appropriate. Anyway, JR (the nickname I know him by) had no clue as to why I’d want to interview him, but I’ve always found his job to be infinitely interesting. Hence the following. By the way, I added some comments. They’re in italics following his answers.

Shoe: Untied (SU): How long have you been a doctor and where have you worked?

Dr. Allen (DA): I   graduated from Paint Valley HS in 1974, the University of Cincinnati in 1979,   and Wright State University in 1983 when I was officially designated as an M.D.  But since no one really knows anything right out of medical school, I did a residency in Internal Medicine at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus from ’83 through ’86. The older I get the more I   realize that I don’t know all that much. I figure that’s either a sign of wisdom or a sign of senility.  I’ve worked mainly in the Mt. Carmel system, working in the ER at Mt. Carmel East and Mt. Carmel West, which I did for 15 years, until I got too old to stay up all night and have drunk people hit me and spit on me.  I’ve done urgent care medicine since then, which is a whole other breed of patients.

Note: He was either the Valedictorian or Salutatorian if I remember correctly, and I graduated 60th in a class of 80. I’ve no idea why he hung out with me.

SU: Other than Shoe, who was your biggest influence growing up?

DA:That’s a question on which I could write for a long time. My dad was the most influential, particularly on morality. I’ll never be a tenth of the man that he was. Definitely Shoe. We have enough material on each other to write a book. My brother Rick taught me a lot about standing up for what you believe. And Kevin Shoemaker, cousin to our esteemed blogmaster. Kevin taught me a lot, whether he knew it or not, when we played football at PVHS.  Kevin was also one of my suite-mates during my freshman year at U of C.  (By way of explanation of suite-mate, we had suites of 5 rooms, 2 people to a room. Kevin lived next door to me in the same suite of rooms.)  I was a scared little kid in Cincinnati. And while my brother was also there, Kevin always seemed to be there as a familiar face of someone from “back home”.  He always had a smile and he, like my dad, was a very moral person. That always impressed me, and I probably never even told him   that. And finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a couple of high school teachers: Mr. John “Herk” Scott and Mr. Paul Johnson.  They are two gentlemen about whom I think frequently.  They had an enormous influence on my values as a human being and I regret I never told them that.

Any influence I had on him was negative, and I say that with the utmost confidence.

SU: You know in movies and stuff when somebody gets hurt or had a heart attack and someone yells, “Is there a doctor in the house?” Have you ever been that doctor?

DA: Fortunately, no.  But I’d probably be the one yelling for a doctor anyway.

Really? Because that’s one of the reasons I’d want to be a doctor. You know, appearing out of nowhere and saying, “Give me room! I’m a doctor!” Then I’d walk away with the hottest babe in the joint. But that’s just me. Damn it.

SU: What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you as a doctor?

DA: A bunch of things. But there was this patient at Mt. Carmel West who came in drunk, and we were simply letting him sober up before we sent him back out into the world. It was sort of a humanitarian effort on our part. At around 3:00 in the morning I noticed that he was out of his bed and standing facing the wall. I soon thereafter noticed this yellow fluid running off the wall where he was standing. And once he was done, he began pawing at the wall as if to flush the imaginary urinal at which he had not so imaginarily just relieved his ever-so-distended bladder. Oh, well. Clean-up on cart 20.

Dang. I was hoping he’d tell us about the time he was checking a guy’s prostate and and the dude said, “Wooh! Hey Doc, you ever do time?” Wait. I just did.

SU: What’s the most disgusting thing you’ve ever witnessed in the ER? It’s OK, you can tell us. Our readers are a thick-skinned bunch.

Shoe, I don’t know if you want to print this.  Lots of things come to mind but I’ll tell you this one.  Most babies are born head-first, which is normal . . .

WHOA. Hold it right there!

OK Doc, we’re not that thick-skinned. At this point I was told a story that I swear to God I don’t feel comfortable publishing here, and for me to say that you know it must be bad. Sweet Mother of God it’s a horrific story. Suffice it to say I would have passed out on the spot. Still, if you really want to know email me or message me on FB and I’ll print it for you word-for-word. Be forewarned though. Oh. My. God.

He also said this:

There’s also the assortment of things ingested (crack pipes from a guy hiding it from the police, bed springs from a convict   trying to get some time out of prison and some R&R in a hospital bed), not to mention the assortment of things inserted into an orifice that most of us consider a one-way street.

Good Lord. Thanks for the visual.

SU: Admit it. Do you use your doctor status when making reservations at fancy restaurants? It’s OK, we ain’t mad at ya.

DA: First of all, I don’t eat in restaurants much fancier than The Outback Steakhouse, and they have call-ahead  seating.  Secondly, I don’t feel too particularly entitled to be seated ahead of anyone else who is hungry.  If I waited that long to eat, then I probably deserve to starve to death.

See, that’s the difference between he and I. I’d feel totally entitled.

SU: Everyone knows the ladies love doctors, at least initially. But maybe they’re just interested in the “doctor” and not the man. In the long run, has your profession helped or hurt you romantically?

DA: I have generally found what I do for a living to be pretty inconsequential as it pertains to romance. But where were all of these women you describe as “ladies love doctors” when I was single???

R-i-g-h-t. I see. The wife is reading this, right? OK, I’ll play along. 

SU: Admit it. The nurses are all over you like stink on a skunk. Fess up. It’s OK, we know you’re happily married now.

DA: About the only nurse that was on me like stink on a skunk was Beth. So I sure showed her – I married her. Now she has to live with that bad decision.

Try as I may I can’t argue with that last sentence. Sorry brother. 

SU: Do you think about life and death during emergency surgery or do you just sort of shut out the emotional part?

DA: The emotions come in after the life/death event is over. The fact that I’m in a life or death   situation is clearly present while I’m busting my butt to try to save someone. But the feelings come later.

SU: Do you have friends (other than Shoe who does it regularly) who call for free medical advice? Is it annoying?

DA: Just a handful.  And most folks don’t do it very often, so I don’t mind.

I’m a little disappointed he didn’t mention checking my groin area for a hernia in the basement of his rental house in Chillicothe. Dead serious. Oh, the benefits of having a doctor as a best friend.

SU: Have you ever wished you’d have gone into another profession? If so, what?

DA: I never really planned to be a doctor. My undergraduate degree was in pharmacy and I had planned to practice hospital pharmacy as my career. I enjoyed the chemistry and science involved. I never planned to practice retail pharmacy, such as CVS or Walgreens. I didn’t like that.  But while in pharmacy school I had a roommate who said I should apply to medical school since, in his opinion, I seemed pretty “bright”. You would have thought he would have known me better. Anyway, I applied to medical school. Took the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) on a Saturday morning having been out until about 4 AM the night before.  I scored great on the MCAT which tells me it’s not a test of intelligence, but rather how well you can take a test while hungover. But having practiced medicine since 1983, I’m glad I did it.

Taking a test hungover? I can’t imagine.

SU: What’s the best part of being a doctor? The worst?

DA: Believe it or not, I went into this business to help people as best I can. Some days I’m more   successful than others, but I like to think I try to do the best I can. That’s the good part. The worst part is all of the administrative bull that has comes with the job. The paperwork has taken away from actual patient care. There are new electronic medical records that the government, in its’ infinite wisdom, has determined will improve patient care. What they fail to see is that I (or anyone else) can’t possibly document accurately what is wrong with a patient, given the   restrictive parameters under which they require their documentation.  So my point is the government paperwork is the worst part of practicing medicine. I spend more time on that than actually seeing patients. Give me the good old days of seeing a patient and they pay me with a pig, like in Doc Hollywood.

Again, your priorities are skewed. Helping people? I’d be all about the chicks and cash.

SU: Are the medical TV shows even remotely realistic?

DA: Not too much.  At least not MASH or Marcus Welby, M.D. But most of the folks reading this have probably never heard of those shows anyway. ER had moments of reality, mixed mainly with fantasy.

Doesn’t matter. I wasn’t watching Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman for the medical realism anyway.

SU: Thanks for sitting down with us for this interview. Anything else you’d like to add?

DA: What I do is simply what I do to contribute to society. I don’t think I’m anything all that special. I was simply blessed with enough smarts to try to help some folks in time of need. And like I said, some days I probably do it better than on other days. But most of whatever modicum of success I’ve had, I owe to a lot of people much bigger than me (and God, for those of you who will allow me that reference). And I’m flattered and humbled that Shoe even thought to ask me to contribute to his blog. His writings are much more entertaining and thought-provoking than anything I might have to say.

He just won’t let this go. Helping people in their time of need? Contributing to society? I’ve apparently misread this whole doctor gig from the get-go.

Note: You all know I’m kidding. He actually feels this way, and that’s what makes him great at what he does. There’s nobody I respect more.

Thanks Dr. Allen.

PS- Damn, I can’t get that ER baby story out of my head.