Labeling Crayons

August 31, 2010

Why do I do these things? Honestly, the reason why is that it is the path of least resistance. I don’t want my kids to be singled out in school for having (gasp!) unlabeled crayons and I don’t want to be singled out by the nursing staff as a difficult or unsafe doctor. So, I go with the flow.

Tomorrow is the first day of school. Now that we have three kids in school, the preparations increase significantly. Last night found me preparing three backpacks with all the necessary school supplies. I consulted lists provided by the school which carefully outline exactly (down to the brand name) what we are supposed to provide.

I may have hazy memories of my own school days, but what I remember is getting some hodge-podge combination of Trapper Keepers, pens, pencils, and looseleaf paper. I don’t remember a list. I think for a couple of years I needed a protractor, but that was about as specific as it got.

Now, the well-prepared student must have four Expo brand dry-erase markers, either the eight or 10 count box of Crayola water-based markers (the 10-count box includes pink and gray, which my daughter specifically requested in order to enhance her art projects this year), and an assortment of glue sticks, crayons, colored pencils, notebooks, and so on. In order to protect our investment in these supplies, we are asked to individually label everything.

For those novices out there, this does not merely mean labeling the box of crayons. It means labeling each individual crayon with the student’s name. Our local Walmart has a back-to-school special offering a 24 count box of crayons for 20 cents. So, I spent more time than I care to admit printing off labels in order to individually label crayons which cost less than a penny each. I think next year, I will just send in 10 boxes of crayons (a $2.00 outlay) and use my time on a more productive venture.

Unfortunately, my mom career was not the only one that required seemingly mindless hoop-jumping. Yesterday I also admitted one of my patients to the hospital. I’ll leave out the details for patient privacy reasons. However, in order to get this patient the care he needed, I had to make half a dozen phone calls to the nurse, the charge nurse, and two other specialists (just to let them know that possibly, at some point in the future, even though everything was just fine now, there may be a complication that I could not predict) as well as provide orders that served nursing requests more than medical necessity.

Despite starting the admission from my office at 1:45 p.m., the patient did not get the first dose of medication until 9:30 p.m. Makes me wonder what the hoop jumping was for.

Why do I do these things, you are probably asking. Both with labeling crayons and making seemingly unnecessary phone calls to specialty colleagues who were, understandably, quite uninterested in my stable patient who did not need their services but who may, like much of the population, need some attention from them at some future time, I did as requested by the teachers and the nurses. I suspended my common sense and medical judgment in order to do the ridiculous (place a personalized label on a penny piece of wax) and the unnecessary (ordered telemetry to make the nurse comfortable).

Honestly, the reason why is that it is the path of least resistance. I don’t want my kids to be singled out in school for having (gasp!) unlabeled crayons and I don’t want to be singled out by the nursing staff as a difficult or unsafe doctor. So, I go with the flow.