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Doctors & Simple Tasks

Common sense and doctors

~ By a Gastroenterologist in the UK

There is a belief that smart people lack common sense, and suggestions regarding why:

Whilst never claiming to be a genius, it has been suggested to me by exes and friends that intelligence is the reason I apparently struggle with everyday tasks. I don’t buy it; many of my very bright family members and colleagues are more capable of getting things done and finding a way than most. For the ones that might struggle, I put it down to just not ever having been in a position to need to do the task, not an inability.

That said, despite being capable of rational thought I still become anxious over unimportant things. My printer stayed in its box for about a month because I had other things to focus on. The day I finally decided to set it up (because it was essential to print something) I procrastinated till late evening, and phoned my father for moral support whilst I put it together. The whole thing took me 10 minutes. And what would the worst outcome have been if I had been unable? No one would have bled to death.

My current task is painting my spare bedroom. The walls are the same unappetising vomit-green as the clinic rooms in my old hospital. The last time I’d painted a wall I was 7 so I consulted a few online videos. Choosing the shade was easier for me than for a non-medical friend who’d been to art school; he took 3 years to choose. I decided on ‘vaguely pale purple,’ went to the shop, carried around two similar shades for about 5 minutes till I’d picked one (called ‘feather boa’), bought it and other painting paraphernalia and left feeling pleased.

That was Monday. Due to a combination of washing the walls and waiting for them to dry, rain, frustration at an inability to apply masking tape in a straight line, needing to return to my parents to borrow a ladder, and it being inadvisable to open the window due to work going on literally outside it after a gas leak, the actual painting is yet to start. I’m starting tomorrow. It might be my first time but what’s the worst that can happen? No one will bleed to death. I might write that on a piece of paper and leave it somewhere. And carry it around in my wallet in that place where most people have a photo of their loved ones.

Having pondered the ‘why do smart people lack common sense?’ question a little longer I think the biggest reason is time. Post-graduate exams and on-calls get in the way of working on cars, interior decoration and being a better cook. In fact one of my biggest joys during all my time off has been the simple luxury of cooking meals from scratch. Completing these mundane tasks also gives me sense of growth, however small, and I love that feeling.

Whilst as above being far from a genius, there is one thing I have in common with Einstein: I choose to live my life as though everything is a miracle. Once the spare room walls are sporting a fetching shade of feather boa courtesy of my fair hands, I will treat it as the miracle it is, however much it looks like a 7-year old did it.

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