I’m a white-haired geezer and it’s no mean feat to drag me into the 21st century. I’m not going to tell you my age, but I can remember mowing my lawn with a reel mower. I spelled it right; go look it up. But it’s hard to resist the homophone and it’s easy for me to think of a reel mower as a “real” mower. So I bought this reel mower to avoid the loud, gasoline gulping power mower and the mysteries of the gas engine. I’m not mechanically inclined. It brought back memories…about how slow and arduous the job of mowing your lawn can be. And I guess I have to confess that I mowed my lawn for the first time in well over 30 years. We’ve used a lawn care service for ages. Further, I haven’t seen a reel mower since I was 10 years old. But they’re still being manufactured, and the main selling point is the virtue of going green. It worked really slick and I did a fair job even though I haven’t touched a yard tool in decades, except for a single wheel rotary lawn edger. That’s right; I don’t use a gas-powered edger either.
This geriatric tendency to cling to the past is nothing to be ashamed of. I happen to think some of the old tools are probably not as outmoded as modern marketing would have us believe. Take the old paper medical record for example. The electronic health record (EHR) will soon take the place of it and for a variety of good reasons. I have discovered only recently what I can do with the EHR. For years we’ve used a EHR here and the newest generation is called Epic, some would say epic for the level of aggravation it causes for users. But I found a way around the problem of tracking delirium in the general hospital. Rather than trust the primary team physicians to enter the delirium diagnosis into the inpatient problem list, I can do it myself. Admittedly this won’t solve the problem of accurate tracking of delirium occurrence rates because psychiatric consultants aren’t called about all the delirium cases, but it will help.
The downside of Epic? How much time do you have? Just kidding. You know, I wrote a Letter to the Editor to a professional journal about an interesting case last year and I’m just now getting the proof back for review (that’s whole ‘nother problem of lag time to publication that I won’t go into right now). The editor wondered about the specific dose of a medication the patient was getting. Hey, it was a year ago; I don’t keep that kind of patient data lying around for that long. I tried to do a search in Epic myself, but couldn’t do it. It was way too complicated. I couldn’t just order up the paper chart. That doesn’t exist anymore. I called tech support, naturally. He spent over a half hour on the phone with me, remotely connecting with my work station and trying to do the search himself…and could not get the job done. He couldn’t find one patient seen a year ago in our hospital during a particular month (another tech support finally found the data but it took about a day and even then he couldn’t see how many times I saw the patient and when). We didn’t know the patient’s name, but we had several other variables to limit the search that logically should have returned a name…couldn’t be done. Instead we either got zero return or several thousand names, which is way more than I’ve got time to scroll through. On the other hand, even If I could have ordered and gotten a paper chart in a half hour (debatable), I would not even have been able to start, because I didn’t have a name. Old is not invariably better or even equal to new. So the geezer doesn’t score.
I was pretty puffed out after mowing our entire lawn at our new home with a reel (real?) mower. And this lawn is considerably larger than our old one. And I was sneezing my head off, which reminded my wife and I why we went with a lawn care service in the first place. Again, old is not necessarily better than new. For me, nostalgia should be a mental exercise.