Wednesday, August 22, 2012

They Need a Doctor on Green Turtle Cay

     The citizens of the beautiful Abaco Islands on the far Atlantic side of the Bahamas are in need of a doctor.  I visited Green Turtle Cay and was considered this opportunity.  Managing the hardware store was a woman who surely needed someone to excise a large basal cell cancer on her forehead.  I wished for my sterile instruments and a vial of lidocaine so I could do this for her.  Perhaps the surgery could have been a trade for the machete I needed to cut open some green coconuts I found.  No need to worry about cutting the government out of taxes by bartering:  there is no income tax in the Bahamas.
      "I have to go to the mainland to get that fixed," the woman told me, "and that's not possible."  A man getting out of his truck down the road could hardly walk because of hip pain.  "No doctor," he said.  "But don't worry, I'm working on it with herbs and such."  I saw another woman's knee joint lock up like a rusty deadbolt when she made a move to get out of her chair.
     Maybe I should go to the Abacos and be a normal doctor.  "It's a cash business," one resident told me.  "No insurance, no malpractice, no hassle."  It sounds too good to be true.  Property taxes are low.  People on the little islands live like villagers and seem to require minimal policing.  And the Bahamian waters beckon like none other:  transparent to fifty feet, voluptuous, abounding with coral reefs and rainbow fish, alternating with greens and blues of luminous intensity.  I could be lulled into believing there is nothing wrong in the world, nothing at all.
      Why am I not in the Bahamas?  How did I get caught up in the quicksand of American medicine?  Why do so many American doctors want to jettison their jobs?  It can't be the patients--they're wonderful, even the difficult ones.  "Every patient is a short story," said Richard Selzer, a surgeon who left medicine to write books.  He's right:  patients are endlessly.
     My lawyers have informed me that we need to schedule a meeting.  One of them had a talk with the federal prosecutor presiding over my "case," but can't tell me about it until we meet--he needs to preserve attorney-client privilege.  I don't know what attorney-client privilege is.  Not really.
     That job in the Abacos sounds pretty good.

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