Trading Tried and True for New and Convenient
OpinionShared Spirit

Trading Tried and True for New and Convenient

A reader faces a dilemma: Should she abandon her non-Jewish doctor of 30 years for a Jewish physician nearby?

Rachel Stein

Toco Hills resident Rachel Stein writes about spirituality and, working with readers, tries to help community members deal with dilemmas.

Not every physician combines the caring, knowledge and Jewishness of Maimonides, as shown in a detail from Veloso Salgado's "Arabic Medicine" painting from around 1906.
Not every physician combines the caring, knowledge and Jewishness of Maimonides, as shown in a detail from Veloso Salgado's "Arabic Medicine" painting from around 1906.

Loyalty is a highly prized commodity for me. I am proud to be a steadfast friend and cherish my old, nothing-like-’em relationships from way back when.

My faded, worn house, scenic neighborhood and familiar stores are like stretchy, comfortable shoes that magically slip on and conform to my feet, and I have no wish for “out with the old and in with the new.” When my dry cleaner of 20 years closed, I slid into a semidepression.

“Mrs. Green,” the owner would greet me with a wide smile, “how are you? The family? What are y’all doing for the holidays?” My loyal patronage was rewarded with congenial familiarity, and I lapped it up — until he closed up shop.

Not long afterward, the neighborhood TCBY went out of business, leaving me blinking back tears. Losing two of my regular haunts in one month was a little much to take.

It wasn’t just the frozen yogurt that would no longer be part of my routine. I mourned the total experience — the friendly proprietor who greeted me by name with a smile, who knew my preferences and those of my kids, and who always shared a friendly anecdote.

For an even clearer picture of my trademark loyalty, hold on to your seats: I am fully committed to sticking with a cellphone that is already (gasp!) several years old. Despite that vital flaw, I have no interest in upgrading even though new models arise faster than I can say iPhone.

My children are befuddled by their quirky mother who prefers the old and comfy to the new and techy.

In the same vein, I have been under the care of the same primary care physician for three decades. Dr. Shot (all names have been changed) is warm, caring, friendly and an excellent practitioner. Located slightly off the beaten path, she is worth every minute of the scenic drive.

I was coasting along peacefully, satisfied with my routine, when waves of change rocked my boat.

“You’ve got to try Dr. Pain!” said my best friend, Laura. “She’s amazing and is a two-minute drive away. She’s up on the latest medical information, has the perfect balance of warmth and professionalism — you’ll love her. And she’s also Jewish. We really have an obligation to help one of our own, don’t you agree?”

Well, maybe, I guess.

From then on, everywhere I turned, her name cropped up. So I am feeling torn.

I adore Dr. Shot. She has seen me through life experiences and has watched me grow from a young mother into a grandmother.

“You’re the best,” she never fails to tell me, treating me to a warm smile that beams from her silvery, bespectacled eyes. “I don’t know how you manage to do everything. You have so much on your plate (I have several children with severe challenges) and cope so beautifully. I really admire you.”

Although my physique may be shrinking, I always leave her office feeling a few inches taller.

But Dr. Shot’s office is a schlep, and she seems to be on the verge of retirement. She recently decreased her hours. As a side point, she is a gentile.

So I waver, wondering where my obligation lies. Do I worry that leaving her will constitute a chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d’s name), causing her to think badly of Jews and their lack of commitment? Do I have an obligation to support a fellow Jew as she tries to build her practice?

If I left Dr. Shot, I would try to cushion the process with the utmost kindness. In a heartfelt letter, I would express my deep appreciation for her years of devotion and quality care, explaining that I am switching only because a new doctor has moved into the neighborhood and offers hours that conform better to my work schedule.

Surely such a humane, sensitive individual would understand and not feel pained (no offense, Dr. Pain) by my decision, right?

Honest communication is so important in relationships. After I’ve done my best to smooth her ruffled feathers, perhaps I am allowed, even entitled, to choose the option that works best for my lifestyle. Dr. Shot’s reaction is her choice and her problem. Well, isn’t it?

Tried and true vs. new and convenient — not an easy choice.

Maybe I can ask Dr. Pain for a free consultation, just to get an idea of her bedside manner. A sensitive soul, I appreciate a doctor who speaks to me and not her computer, who is willing to give me more than two minutes of her precious time without one foot slipping through the door. Perhaps this model is outdated. But what if it’s not and Laura’s words are corroborated?

If this were your choice, who would get your vote? Respond to by Monday, Nov. 27, to have your suggestions printed in the next column.

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