Choking children at 35000 Feet.

Here I am flying out to California to visit cousins and about 15 or 20 minutes into the flight a child 18 months old or so chokes on something. The stewardess came to help and I asked what was going on. The stewardess asked me if I am a doctor and when I said yes they hand me the child. It sounded like she had choked on some formula so I just re-positioned her a bit and shortly she was back to breathing normally.

It reminded me of the movie Field of Dreams when the young ball player walks off the field to become the old doctor played by Burt Lancaster and saves the child choking on the hot dog. This is the second time in a year that I have been privileged to help someone in distress on an airplane. Events like this remind me of why I went to medical school.

It is easy today to lose track of why I went. Very little about medicine is very much like what it was when I started practicing in 1975. It was fun then. I was part of a profession that served people. I worked for patients not insurance companies or the government. It was simple then. People came if they wanted to, and I took care of their problems. And, yes they paid me mostly.

Now we are in the grip of a titanic change in the way we deliver and pay for health care. It is not simple. I daily read about people who are losing their insurance, having their premiums double and their deductibles double. I read one man who asked us to pray for him because his insurance company was leaving the state and he feared that he would not be able to see the doctor who saved his life any longer.

It would be enough to make a fellow think about retiring I suppose and I know that many will. But, then at 35000 there is a baby choking. And, I can remember why I went to medical school. And, for just a moment medicine is fun again.

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