Fillers Endpiece

At Talbott-Marsh

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 12 May 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1127

“I have a lot of debt, if that's what you mean. My partnership dissolved, so I had to set up my own office. But I'm getting back on track. I cover four different hospitals. No one has ever complained about my work…”

“The work is the last thing to suffer,” an intense older man across the room burst in, unable to keep quiet any longer. He wore half-moon glasses over which he peered at the newcomer. He had a thick Southern accent. “The order in which you dee-stroy your life,” he said, holding out his hand and pulling down fingers, “is first family, then you screw your partners, then you screw up your finances, then your health goes. Hell, your job performance is the last thing to go.”

The burly Californian stirred in his chair. He was embarrassed. If this had been a staff meeting at his own hospital, he would have told this hick to go to hell.

“I should know, son,” the man went on, whipping off his glasses, his tone softening, but not much. “I was confronted only when I passed out in the OR and fell face forward into the abdomen I had just opened. In the two years preceding that, I'd lost everything: my family, my friends, my money. I protected my job till the very end, and even when they sent me here, I still didn't think I really had a problem, came here to be ee-valuated…”

From Abraham Verghese's The Tennis Partner, a story of medical addiction (Vintage, 1999)

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