February 1999

Resign or Re-sign?

By Michael J. Katin, MD

This has not been a good several months for those accustomed to stability. Perhaps the start was this past summer, when Cal Ripken, Jr., decided to take himself out of the lineup. His example was followed by Newt Gingrich, and even by Robert Livingstone, who didn't even wait to officially become Speaker before he benched himself. Michael Jordan decided to hang it up, and the world is breathless with anticipation about the decisions coming from John Elway and Reggie White.

I have been writing this column for over two years, beginning to lose faith that I will someday be discovered by a literary agent who might come across this website while wandering between exxxstasy.com and tokyotopless.com. This attitude may be the same as for the poor blighter who plays the same lottery numbers every week, knowing in his heart that they will never win until the week he fails to get the ticket. Nonetheless, enough is not yet enough, although I can fantasize about the column I could write if I knew that this was definitely the final installment.

Would I write about the frustration of practicing in a specialty which is poorly understood by every other medical professional, most of whom still think we all trained in diagnostic radiology and do barium enemas in-between simulations? Or the fact that we, like Blanche DuBois, depend on the kindness of others to survive, competing often not only against other modalities of treatment but, sadly, even against the choice of no treatment at all?

Would I comment on the anguish of having everything that happens to the patient blamed on the radiation treatments administered to a basal cell carcinoma five years ago? I suppose that is more likely to be the cause of the thrombocytopenia rather than any of the eight medications the patient is taking for his or her medical problems. What about the lack of satisfaction of having to get a patient through weeks of treatment after the surgeon has described that he got the tumor out and the treatment is being given as a precaution (even though every margin was positive). What about the distress at being blamed by the patient for not having every results of every study run by every other physician who never bothers to send you copies. Or the grief of dealing with patients who won't finish on schedule because the linear accelerator decides to act up? Or being expected to be using conformal therapy and multileaf collimators on every patient after the newspaper article that Cousin Fred sent from Chicago?

Or would most of the regret be related to the sociopolitical state of our specialty, with xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxAmerican College of Radiology being xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx for their xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxand xxxxxxxxxxxxoverlookingxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxself-servingxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxwhereas the American Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology is concentrating on xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxtheir own xxxxxxxxxxwithout regard to xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxin real life? ACRO is trying but xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. The scenario results in xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxmongersxxxxxxxxxxxxxbefore the good of xxxxxxxxxxx. Being a minority specialty is a death-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxAmerican Medical Associationxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx reason to exist.Never mind, it's all too depressing. I'll just keep going with the column and try to hook up a link with hootermania.com.

(Webmaster's note: the previous column was edited for the purpose of preservation of our specialty).

email: mkatin@radiotherapy.com