Mr. Jack JackAss is a character that came to me decades ago. From the beginning, he put me in a better frame of mind.
Every story has a beginning. Jack JackAss’ story starts with my Mom. She was a long-time smoker and died from lung cancer the year before I entered medical school.
During medical school and residency training, I witnessed the devastation smoking was causing so many of the patients I “treated.” I came to realize that, to most effectively treat the consequences of smoking, it was best to treat the smoking itself. Most smokers begin smoking as young adolescents and eventually became so addicted to the nicotine that they continue to smoke despite an understanding of its devastating consequences.
Just as I was finishing medical school, the character, Jack JackAss, in all his glory, came to me as a mechanism to ridicule and undermine the images of social success that tobacco companies sell so well. I eventually trade-marked the character and used him to teach media literacy at high schools to educate the students how tobacco companies market to a targeted audience.
As I grew into the wisdom and expertise of the mature physician, Jack JackAss grew on me and others. He made us laugh. I started giving Jack Jackass diplomas to patients who had stopped smoking. Several patients hung their diplomas on their walls and shared them on social media. I realized Jack not only made me happy; more importantly, he could be used to help people happily celebrate their freedom from cigarettes. In short, he became a force for good.
I am currently developing a smoking cessation program based on him. I find such work enriching. It adds great value to my professional work. As people avoid and/or stop smoking, it gives me a sense of connection and celebration with others.
And there is secondary gain ― the unintended consequence thing. It assists me address the impact of physician burnout. Through Jack JackAss, I have learned one of the most important cures for this dreaded burnout ‘dis-ease’ is human connection — connection and empathy with my patients, with my family and friends, and connection with myself.
As Smoker Jack connects me, he comforts me and gently reminds me why I entered the field of medicine in the first place ― important, meaningful work that makes a difference.
The Back-Burner Slow-Down
T Michael White MD
The FountainHead WhiteHouse
Friday, January 19, 2018
Dear Magnificent Ladies and Remarkable Gentlemen,
Thank you for all you do daily so well for so many.
As I move on in life from over-matched, totally flummoxed parent to brilliant grandparent, I am compelled to convey…
Through training and inclination, I have come to the opinion that a thoughtful, calm pre-school home environment is critical for the development of successful adolescents and adults. With this bias, I have regularly observed the importance of hours spent in play/work at Mom and/or Dad’s kitchen table.
Once a week, humorist Mr. Tim Rowland (a hero. Note1: it is good to have heroes. Note2: to make the man-crush even more intense, he has moved into the Adirondacks) successfully veers towards meaningful commentary. Please investigate his Positive Stimuli Needed as an Alternative to Drugs (Herald-Mail 12/30/2017). Consistent with my observations, he articulates the following points:
As food for thought, I wish to make a point that Mr. Rowland has neglected. Through trial and error, I have come to understand, children, even when doing well in school, require tutors in the home. Each parent brings her/his unique skill set to the home classroom (different strokes for different folks) ― for example, for me words are a passion and mathematics is a drudge. To round out experience, thoughtfully introduce tutors early and regularly. Don’t wait for a “fallen behind” alert.
In closing, congratulations on your fine executive decision making. Congratulations for finding balance, for family and career. Individuals, families, employers and society will be the better for it.
Time flies. Soon circumstance will “mercifully” find you back in the workforce and Immediately nostalgic for special days with special people at the kitchen table.
Thank you for giving this glance.
If worthy, please drop a (clearly needed) thought or two.
Dr. Dad/Old Dad