Smiling through the pain

Photo by Heather M. Edwards on Unsplash

“Hello Brandy. I’m Michael Burg, an emergency doctor. How can I help you today?”

That’s my standard greeting at work.

I’m smiling.

The nauseating stench of ashtray mixed with neglect assaults me from across the room. It emanates from Brandy and possibly from her mother, who is here with her.

I continue smiling, crossing the room toward my patient. She’s halfway through a double cheeseburger and a supersized bag of fries. The smell of onions, pickles and deep-fryer fat invades my nose as I near.

Twenty-two-year-old Brandy has aged far beyond her years and weighs about 12 to 15 times…


A suite and sour story. Or, am I comparing apples and oranges?

I’m just around the corner in this pic.

The Presidential Suite was once mine for the asking.

Back in the good old days all I had to do at hotel check-in was smile, indicate that I’d checked with Michelle and Barack before my hotel arrival, had been assured that they didn’t need their room that night, and I was in. Front desk personnel would laugh or smile at my cheeky approach and grant me their suite, if it was available. Sometimes I’d have to pay a little extra, but it was totally worth it.

I’ve written about the experience in the story below.

This approach worked in Vietnam…

We need some upgrades

Photo by Daria Sheveleva on Unsplash

Evolution has produced some pretty stellar results. Humans have ascended from the pond scum of yesteryear to today’s finely tuned biological marvels.

However, let’s not be too hasty.

The human body is amazing but it’s definitely not perfect. As a doctor, I see it break down all the time because of mileage, age, misuse, abuse, a host of other indiscretions and just plain old bad luck.

However, there are certain “design flaws” inherent in humans from major to minor. They make us seem poorly planned and in need of revamping.

Here’s a checklist that would send many of us back to the…


When the going gets tough, the truly tough … wander?

James Wheeler — Pexels

Not knowing what to do next can be tough … and extremely valuable.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. That’s the common wisdom. Sage advice and oft repeated in various forms. I get it. Sometimes circumstances just call for pressing on in the face of adversity or sudden life change or crisis.

But, not always …

Sometimes the right move under difficult circumstances is simply to drift while pondering options.

That can be tough to do, particularly after a lifetime of clear direction and decidedly NOT drifting. I suspect, that like me, that’s more your jam.


Moving on means moving up.

Photo by Yuiizaa September on Unsplash

Quitting has been important to my success.

Scrutinizing your own professional journey may reveal a few key “quits” that helped you along the way. Maybe “moving on” has value worth considering.

Our paths are strewn with seemingly false starts and missteps. Those career wobbles can be great though, educational in fact, teaching us what we want and what we really don’t.

My flight-of-the-bumble-bee career journey has imparted three pearls of wisdom I’d like to share.

  • All knowledge and experience is useful
  • Quitting at the right time is valuable
  • Enjoying the journey is paramount

And a bonus.

  • Say “yes” to good…

Modicum, as in a medium (small “m”) amount

Note: No medium here either. This is a fortune teller. *** Photo by Hulki Okan Tabak on Unsplash

All of the ways you can “make it” on this writing platform. Messaged and massaged with as many “medium” (small “m”) synonyms as I could muster.

Tag telepathically, just right
Like a sorcerer, in the dark night
Write stories of just the right length
Conjure up all your strength
Four minutes is just about medium
Too long is just about tedium
Too short, don’t you know it
They’ll call you a poet
There’s no lucre there
So rhymers beware

Can you prophet from loss?
You can, if you do dare toss
Self-Help or How-To…

Will attention to the 3 R’s lead to a 4th R? Read on to find out.

All three look happy. * * *

Be “real.” Be “relational.” Practice “reciprocity.” That’s it, in the proverbial nutshell.

Full disclosure, both recent bonuses came my way.

My three primary drivers for writing are: joy, community and reader response. If money flows my way as a secondary outcome, I’m happy with that too. Nice, but far more “recognition” than “reward.”


Or more to the point, be real, as in authentic and true to self.

I know there’s a skew toward workplace-oriented, how-to-be-successful or self-help type articles with a WIIFM*-type format here.

If that’s what you write, that’s great. I have no heartburn about it. And, I’m not…

It’s my party, can I be “fly” if I want to? That’s up to you.

Photo by Marjan Blan | @marjanblan on Unsplash

My birthday’s coming up, and as usual there’s nothing I want or need.

Or, more properly, there’s nothing I need and there WAS nothing I wanted.

That is of course, until a writer-friend of mine informed me that I was a writing “ICON!” Her word, not mine. I assumed she was joking, but once she tarred me with that brush she refused to back down.

I suggested that when it came to writing I was a “barely can” rather than an icon. But, like I said, my friend stuck to her guns, and now I’m convinced.

The “Oxford Dictionaries” defines…

Phase two of something, I’m sure

Photo by Renee Fisher on Unsplash

Who is going to pick up, and write about, the fact that the First Lady is sporting a jacket with the word “LOVE” on the back?

It began as some kind of war

Because I am some kind of bore

Then Jupiter said

Let’s make love instead

An offer that some may explore

This sounds WAY more salacious than it is. Although I guess that’s the appeal of limericks. The prurient or suggestive ones, or even the downright filthy ones, are often the best.

WAY back when, about two weeks ago, I started a friendly limerick war with this 👇

Michael Burg, MD (AKA Medium Michael Burg)

Putting “MD” & “um” in Medium | Top Writer x 5 | “Doctor Funny” pub owner | “Relationalable” | ER Doc in remission |

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