Can Physicians Heal Themselves?


I woke up in the middle of the night, and my chest was on fire. No kidding. A sharp pain sliced through my heart, spread to the right and up toward my head. I tried changing positions, side to side, chest-down to face-up: nothing. Not so much as a moment’s relief. I actually considered the possibility that I might die. (Nothing like what I’d arrange if I had a say in the matter, but what was a man to do?)

I did wonder if I might be having heartburn (which, by the way, really has nothing to do with the heart). But the sheer immediacy of the pain left little energy for such theoretical considerations; it was like, “This is your heart at stake here!” (I actually checked my pulse, but that chugged on quite normally, oblivious to its own imminent doom.)

After maybe five minutes (that seemed far more, naturally), I felt slight relief. I remember wondering about death again, briefly, before finally nodding off.

It was light when I woke, and I felt a little foolish. Of course, I was in no great danger. Too much beans too late had set me up for bad heartburn. Quite straightforward, really.

But I’m a medical doctor, for crying out loud. How could I have missed that?

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