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Overdoing it in the virtual world

Overdoing it in the virtual world


Remember Madonna’s song “Material Girl”?

"We are living in a material world

And I am a material girl..."

We are living in a virtual world, and I am NOT a virtual boy.

I have hounded my old friend, Dr. Bob Wilmouth, President of Rocky Mountain College for years, to let me do the Rocky Commencement address. This was to be my year.

The accursed pandemic turned my big moment on the stage into a “virtual commencement”. To their credit, President Bob and the production crew did a great job for their graduates. But being a shameless ham, I love an audience, and rely a lot on feedback from the audience. How do you know if your jokes are working, or if the audience is falling asleep? You tell me—here is the link. 

Just recently we have been seeing patients back in the office—temperature and history taken at the door, masks, and scrub suits. I was seeing a patient, and we were calmly discussing her situation when I noticed a slight flush in her face and a film of moisture in her eyes.

“I sense something is upsetting you. Tell me what you are feeling and maybe I can help”, I suggested, and the floodgates opened. I would have totally missed that on Zoom or FaceTime.

My hands tell me much—skin texture after radiation, a lump in the axilla, an occult hernia—but they are also critical for communicating connection and caring. The transcendent provider understands that diagnosis and treatment—the tools of fixing people—must be supplemented with a laser-lock beam of empathy to allow healing.

Whether attempting a miter joint in my woodshop or confronting a weird eyelid problem, YouTube is my savior. I love tech. But I would rather play a game than watch one, and my reality show has no cameras. (Although “old bald guy plants tree with wife of 37 years” would be a ratings sensation.)

“Social distancing” has been progressing long before this pandemic.

Let’s not overdo it.

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