Paralysis by Urinalysis

doctor-with-urine-sample-via-shutterstock-615x345Paralysis by Urinalysis

If I fail a urine screen I am then discharged from treatment by my doctor.  This has become an all-too-common practice at many .. practices. Isn’t this ridiculous?  I mean, hypothetically, if I decided to go to an all night 70’s disco cocaine party and decided to partake (hypothetically) then I am in danger of losing the services of my orthopedic surgeon who is helping to mend my back after a near-paralyzing car accident?  Ridiculous.  A joint to help me sleep?  Say goodbye to my recovery from spinal injury.  Is there even a justification for this?  I will play devil’s advocate and try to defend the indefensible here.  Note:  Any position that isn’t mine is indefensible.

We can’t be providing opioid medications to patients who are themselves drug users.  There could be dangerous interactions and other irresponsible behavior that would cause them to harm themselves.  They would need a doctor.  They should be discharged from my (doctor) practice.

We have to test their urine frequently to be sure that we are not contributing to a patient’s drug problem or addiction issue for which they should be seeking professional help.  They would definitely need to see a doctor if they had an addiction problem.  These patients definitely should be discharged from my (doctor) practice.

By testing our patients’ urine, we can see who is a complicated patient so we can quickly discharge them from our practice, thus leaving us with the simple patients who quietly come and go, pay their bill on time, and allow us to pack in more patients (more money!)  Complicated patients take up too much time and cost us too much money (not to mention effort).  Money and effort should never be expended needlessly in our line of work.  Just tell them we can lose our license (an incredible irony when you consider that by KEEPING them as patients and TREATING their destructive tendencies by way of referrals or their addiction we would be acting MORE like doctors and thus be MORE worthy of our licenses) and keep having them make the walk of shame from bathroom to waiting room holding their leaking urine vials.  I became a doctor to get rich not to treat people who have unhealthy habits or dangerous behaviors.  Those people should go get their heads examined.  …by a doctor, I guess.  I’m confused.

Doing drugs is unhealthy although often a lot of fun.  If you choose to do something this stupid (awesome) then you should not be in danger of losing the services of a competent medical professional.  It should be noted, however, that if your doctor discharges you for failing a urinalysis, subjecting you to both withdrawal and the care that you deserve due to an injury or illness, the maybe your medical professional isn’t so competent after all…


A Letter to My Classmates, As I Emerge

Dear Friends & Classmates,

Words fall short of coveying the events of the past 6 weeks. My world has been utterly shattered. If not for the strength I have learned in life and the support of great friends like you, I would have been crushed by sadness and grief.

I know that there were some announcements and talk about what happened, but for those interested, I will, for the first time, put in writing some details of my struggle. My Father’s name is Glenn Schwartz. He is a performing vocalist, guitar player, inventor, basketball player and teacher of the learning disabled / emotionally disturbed in a Junior High School in the South Bronx (yes, he is a TOUGH man). Last month he fell victim to an increasing number of nagging symptoms when he returned home from a vacation in Florida. Headaches, back pain, sweating, slight confusion, all that turned out not to be just a flu. My father was leaking blood into his brain at an alarming rate. But, being a Baby Boomer, he would heal on his own…

Upon returning from Florida, he and my Mother promptly fell asleep. My Mother was awakened by a crashing noise at about 3:30 AM. She turned to see my Father was not in their bed. After a brief search, my poor Mother found my Father, in a state that brings me to tears as I write this, on the floor of their bathroom. The bleeding had become a hemmorhage and my Father had minutes to live. With each second, literally, he risked losing more function until the brain succumbed. My Mother was terror-stricken and didn’t know what to do. So, she called me. I was sleeping at about 4 AM Thursday morning when the phone rang. I saw the word “Mom” on caller ID and knew that there was something VERY wrong. I picked up the phone and the indescribable nightmare began.

We arranged for an ambulance. Dad was taken to a good local hospital and was stabilized. “Stabilized” is the nice way that they chose to tell us he was on life-support and was almost completely brain dead. He had suffered a massive hemmorhage and the pressure was unrelenting as it ravaged my Dad’s brain. I looked at him and (beware, spirituality ahead) spoke deeply with God and reasoned that our family deserved a miracle. We are kind, quirky people who usually make people smile (or at least entertained). We couldn’t live without Dad. All of this happened when I was supposed to be in Civil Procedure class.

It has been a tremendous battle and we got our miracle. What happened cannot be explained by ANY doctor or any science. My Dad can speak and suffers no major damage other than lack of movement on his left side (he is a lefty). I am getting very emotional as I write this because I still haven’t really looked at the whole picture yet. If you would like to know more about this incredible story, or to visit my Dad (he loves meeting people – especially my friends), please feel free to ask me or to write.

I write this for many reasons but two are most relevant to all of you. First: I am not a person who is good with getting sympathy or gifts, but the people who took the time to say even the smallest thing were the people who made it possible to push through the sadness and fulfill my obligations at Rutgers. The little things mean SO MUCH! Keep it coming BECAUSE IT’S WORKING! Thank you so so much. I never thought that this could happen and that you all would be so incredibly kind to me. It means the world to my family that I didn’t have to give up my dream of being a lawyer. The ONLY reason I was able to do this was your support. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Second: I hope that my experience and persistence can help you deal with your own daily stresses and challenges. Rely on each other. Please vent, whine, complain to friends who care. Most importantly, despite our lives here that make us crazy, try to say something kind to another person every day. I never knew how much it means, but it means everything to those who need it. Let’s help to support each other as you have supported me. I believe that, if we can do this, we will make very dear friends and overcome the pettyness that can make law school unnecessarily difficult. Please try with me. I am hopeful that we will help make Rutgers a home where each of us has a sea of brothers and sisters. Family is everything. I truly consider you all a part of this great adventure and it is your kind spirit that has compelled you to help me when I needed it the most.

I still have many family obligations, but when I am here, please consider me a close friend. I have been taught a great lesson and can already hear the cynics saying “cheesy” as they read this, but please consider be a close friend as I will always make an effort to support you no matter what. I only know this because it is what you all have taught me. Again, I thank you. I am truly blessed with such wonderful friends.


Eric Peter Schwartz

Ackerman Scholar
Event Planning Chairman – Phi Alpha Delta
Student Member – American Bar Association