Why Pet Goats?
As I led town halls across America, pet goats were an unexpected theme in citizen testimony. And to my surprise, pet goats keep popping up in my life. The healing potential of animals is underutilized in medicine. Who knows? Maybe this year I’ll find that special goat for our clinic, or I’ll offer Pap smears at a petting zoo, if that’s what my patients want. While editing this paragraph, I’m introduced to a lady who has a mobile petting zoo—with fifteen goats! No kidding.
Why Pap Smears?
A Pap smear is a screening test for cervical cancer, in which a smear of cervical cells is taken from inside a woman’s vagina. The cervix is the doorway to the womb, the birthplace of all humanity. When I’m in between my patients’ thighs looking deep inside the places where nobody has looked before, patients often tell me things that they’ve never shared with anybody. This sacred relationship between a doctor and patient is the foundation of health care.
I work in a gold mine of human drama and comedy. For twenty years, patients have been telling me their stories. I can no longer contain them; now, I release their stories to the world. Here, I give voice to the voiceless and credibility to incredible lives. I’ve written about patients in previous books, yet the more I write, the more patients plead, “Have I made it into your next book?” So I keep writing.
Inside me live the stories of dead patients too. I heard their last words. Now—through my words—patients live again.
Pet Goats & Pap Smears is more than a collection of stories. It’s a book of 101 medical adventures that have been retrieved from the deepest places inside people I have cared for. Sometimes, I’m so deep inside patients that I believe I have touched their souls. I know they have touched mine.
Why This Book Now?
Health care can never be mandated. Most people suffer ill health from poor lifestyle choices. Legislation can support healthy behavior, but laws can’t force people to care about themselves—or anyone else. Compassion comes from the heart, not the pen. Caring is a personal choice born from an awakening of the heart and soul.
Health care can never be mandated from the top down, because what Americans really want comes from the inside out and the bottom up.
Doctors are the heart of health care. But doctors are discouraged. Overwhelmed and underappreciated, most doctors have considered quitting medicine. Malpractice fears have turned the doctor-patient relationship from sacred to scared. In these pages, you’ll peek inside the hearts and souls of America’s doctors. Here is where health care reform begins. I offer this book to help heal our wounded healers.
Happy doctors don’t retire early. Happy doctors don’t abandon direct patient care for administrative positions in pharmaceutical or insurance companies. And they don’t leave medicine for waitressing. I’ve learned that it is financially viable to practice medicine in alignment with one’s highest values and the values of one’s community.
America needs happy doctors.
Pet Goats & Pap Smears goes where other books have never been. These pages delve deep inside real people to uncover the moral and political conflicts of our day. Explore prostitution, medical marijuana, animal rights, physician-assisted suicide, and capital punishment from inside the bodies of my patients.
It’s not my job to judge patients. I invite you to decide whether our laws and behaviors with one another are ethical and just.
May you enjoy the journey.