The Professor was well-respected by fellow residents and attending physicians alike. He had maturity both from the few extra years of age, and from his military service that filled in those years. When he first arrived at the BTH (Best Teaching Hospital), the attending physicians with a history of military service addressed him as “Commander”, but his unparalleled knack for quoting the best Evidence Based Medicine (EBM), clinical acumen, and ability to share knowledge quickly gave way to “The Professor.” The Professor hated quacks pretending to be doctors. These quacks were not up to date on EBM and were essentially practicing pseudoscience and prescribing snake oil. Little did he know that he would soon be misdiagnosed by one of these mountebanks… He was already distraught by what he witnessed in the ICU last night. Surely it must have been a quack who performed the botched boob job on Grandma.
In his second year at the BTH, he is an enigma. At six feet tall, coal black hair kept military short, sparkling hazel eyes, easy smile, and a body chiseled by the Navy Running Team, everyone is drawn to him. Men want to be his workout partner. Ladies offer to feed him. Elders always have “one more story” to share with him. But his most endearing quality is his humility. Rather than play the jock, the ladies man, or even the arrogant doctor, he is quiet and a loner. While he is not a recluse, and enjoys the social rounds throughout the workday, he keeps his personal time just that—personal.
Many have speculated on his behavior, and rumors have started, only to die out from lack of proof. “He has a far away lover.” “He’s gay.” “His heart was broken.” “He’s a spy and won’t be here long.” The truth was much simpler: he hasn’t had a compelling reason to get involved with anyone.
Long before he was known as The Professor, this young man’s path was set on the American Dream. Born under a communist dictatorship, his parents risked their lives to escape to a place where their son could grow in freedom. He grew up in refugee ghettos, barely learning English in schools where only 20% of children were native English speakers. They assumed that he would join a gang and make a living as a criminal, as there were few other options for this generation of undereducated, desperately poor immigrants.
His mother sat and prayed each night when he left the house as a teen to roam the streets with his compatriots. She had lost his father a few years earlier and was overprotective of her boy but did not want to clip his wings. He was kind—not rough and uncaring like the other boys. Was this good? Or would this get him killed? She wondered.
One night his group got into a brawl outside a nightclub. He was separated from his friends and took off running down a dark alley, a member of the rival gang in hot pursuit and armed with a knife. His speed saved him. He reached a high chain-link fence with enough time to climb over before his pursuer reached him. He was soon out of sight.
That night, he cried himself to sleep. He cried over the pain that it would cause his mother to lose him. He cried over the trouble it would cause her if he survived, but we're hurt. He cried over the danger he would put her in when would get more deeply involved in gang activity. And through his tears, he remembered a conversation with his parents when he was five years old.
He had just started kindergarten and learned the “Pledge of Allegiance”. His teacher taught the class about freedom and the words “liberty and justice for all.” His parents told him they had come to the United States so he could be anything he wanted to be: an astronaut, a fireman, a banker, a shop owner,….anything he could dream, he could have. The boy thought for a moment, then asked his mother, “What do you want me to be?” Without hesitation, she replied, “A doctor.”
The teenager awoke the next morning with a new vision of himself. The next day he went to school clean-shaven and on time. He sat at the front of the class and did not associate with his usual group of friends. And he met with the Guidance Counselor. She put him on track to complete a Pre-Med curriculum, and he did his part.
He gave up his life of instant sensory gratification and good times to achieve the dream for which his parents had risked their lives. He could be found in the library, rather than college parties. He chose a few study partners as close friends. In the end, he graduated from University with Magna Cum Laude double major in biology and philosophy and had earned entrance to the Greatest Medical School (GMS) with a full scholarship from the US Navy.
As it turned out, it wasn’t all just for his mother. He found that he had a real talent for the sciences and a love of philosophy. While the Navy was a source of fabulous funding, he had a true desire to give back to the country that was allowing him to fulfill his potential. And until he completed his duty, and his training, and provided for his mother, he would involve no one else in his personal life.
He fills his time with running and academics, both medical and philosophical. All cultural interests must have deeper meaning to intrigue him: hidden meaning in a lyric, a puzzle in a painting, dark references in literature. He does not enjoy the popular indulgences. This mysterious prince of a doctor starts whispers wherever he goes. But he is oblivious to that fact, only knowing that the few relationships that he started over the years quickly bored him. Thus, he has chosen to not waste his time. However, after his encounter with Doctor Yoga in the ICU, he could think of nothing else…
To clear his mind from Doctor Yoga’s haunting beauty, he became overzealous with marathon training. He started averaging ten miles per day on his runs or daily dimes as they are called. For a while, he pushed through the exhaustion and pain from training and sleep deprivation of residency. He did not want to visit his doctor when he developed blinding knee and hip pain. However, the Professor, known for his humility went to see his new primary care physician at the local clinic. His new doctor was not aware this patient, was himself a physician. The Professor liked to remain under the radar and did not want any special treatment. He wanted the same treatment that all veterans received. Unfortunately, a most egregious blunder occurred. A quack misdiagnosed the Professor with a mild case of bursitis. There were actually several severe stress fractures that produced blinding pain!
These patient stories are inspired by real medical encounters. However, names have been changed and location is fictional. Dr. Gutierrez share these stories to entertain, inspire, and educate the public on the nature of reality.