Notes From One Front in the War on Alzheimer’s Disease
Still in the flush of coming from rural poverty in Oklahoma and graduating a top ten law school, I held the naïve view of the professions that the years of study are not for the purpose of personal gain. I was doing the prep work on a nasty child abuse case, the kind of work that the lawyers in the bank towers with carpet on the floor hire done — chasing down witnesses.
My immediate goal was to collect an affidavit from the pediatrician who had reported the abuse, as all persons — -professional or not — -are required to do in Texas. I found his office situated between the primary charity hospital serving metro San Antonio and the barrio where most of the patients lived.
He had a woman tasked with paperwork and gatekeeping much like a law office, but her work area was smaller — -just a desk with the state-of-the-art IBM Selectric typewriter. When I stated my business, she smiled and said the doctor was “on rounds” but would be back momentarily and I should wait.
She showed me where I should wait and it turned out to be the doctor’s private office. As she closed the door I sank into one of the comfortable chairs facing the desk, pulled out my case file, and put my fine leather briefcase — a graduation gift from my wife — -on the floor.
A frisson of fear and doubt gripped me when I saw a document on the wall dressed up to look like a major prize among all the doctor’s degrees and certifications. It read in bold letters:
The next time you get sick, call a lawyer.
I had strong feelings about the difference between a profession and a job. To be a licensed professional is an honor that carries a duty to help that is optional for others. Hostility between the professions was an aberration I knew of but had not yet encountered. The ink was not dry on my law license and I was on a mission to save a child but…
The noise that interrupted my mental turmoil was the doctor entering his office in a white garment I can’t call a coat because this was San Antonio, where coats are rare. I took it to be his doctor uniform and he was shedding it as he entered. He hung it on a hook next to some jackets. Under the white garment was a short-sleeved dress shirt like mine and a necktie…