Friday, March 18, 2016


Image result for famous masked wrestlers

When I was a teenager, I liked to watch professional wrestling.  I knew it was fake but as somebody told me, you will rarely see such good acting.  I used to watch every Saturday morning on CBC.  This was not the steroid fuelled, crotch grabbing, fancy hairstyle wrestling that became popular in the 1980s.  These were men with pot bellies usually wearing briefs and calf high boots.  There were the local wrestlers who were there all the time and a rotating cast of villains and heroes who came for a few weeks.  This included by the way a younger Jesse Ventura.

One of the villains was a masked fighter named appropriately Mr X.  He teamed up with the other villains such as "The Brute".  He was also claimed to be an American and loved to insult Canada, not popular in the 1970s very nationalistic Canada.  

It came that Mr. X was to fight "Gentleman Gene" Kiniski "Monday night at the Gardens". The Saturday morning broadcast (actually taped the previous Tuesday) served to promote the weekly card at "The Gardens" an arena somewhere in Vancouver.  There was a twist to the fight.  If Gene Kiniski who sported a crew cut and wrestled in briefs, lost, Gentleman Gene who was well into his fifties, would have to "hang up his tights".   If Mr. X lost he would have to remove his mask and reveal his indentity.  

Now usually fights like that were set up to end in a draw so that nobody would have fulfill their end of the bargain but the people who scripted All Star Wrestling decided it was time to unmask Mr. X, who duly lost to Gene Kiniski, who wrestled for many years after.  As I read in the sports section of the Vancouver Sun, which actually covered pro wrestling, the following Tuesday afternoon, Mr. X was actually Guy Mitchell, a Canadian.  This probably wasn't his real name either but Guy Mitchell formerly Mr. X wrestled on All Star Wrestling for the next year or so as a hero.  As an aside Gene Kiniski owned a bar in Point Roberts which I visited years later.  

This is a long winded introduction to announce that after 8 or so years of blogging anonymously I have decided to unmask, sort of.

I started this blog about 8 years ago, sitting home on New Year's Eve on call but with no work to do, the family down in the dacha.  I originally intended to write about politics and life.  I had been a very active member of the left wing discussion forum "Babble".  A few months later, I started reading medical blogs and this interested me so I started writing about what I know.  

I kept things anonymous, largely so that I would have freedom to write exactly how I felt without having to be confronted the next day at work by somebody I had inadvertently or intentionally insulted.  In addition, unlike most anaesthesiologists, I do some direct patient care and really wasn't interested in my patients Googling me and reading my blog.  I chose Bleeding Heart which was the name I used on Babble.  Bleeding Heart Liberal was a term I believe was used by Spiro Agnew or Richard Nixon although according to Google it originated in the 1930s.

I could have done a better job covering my tracks.  I have lived and worked in enough Canadian cities that I could have convincingly pretended to work in one of them.  I really didn't think anybody was going to read my blog.  Very early on, somebody contacted me stating that she had been able, using hints I had dropped, to identify me.  

A couple of years ago I blogged about an episode at work which I wasn't involved in.  It involved mis-use of the electronic medical record.  It was considered such a breach that we had hospital wide rounds on it.  Because the physician implicated, denied any involvement she wasn't named nor was she charged or disciplined by the hospital.  It was common knowledge apparently who it was; I have no contact with the area where she works so I didn't know her.  Our licensing body however, has a different standard of proof, and about a year later her licence was suspended and her name was published in the local paper.

This was a fascinating story, involving mis-use of medical records and also some real dirt which I won't elaborate on for reasons you will find out below.  I thereby published it with the details which had been discussed at hospital wide rounds, the details in the licensing body's report and of course the physician's name (I will call her Dr. X).  All the preceding was in the public record.   I had a fair sense of schadenfrude but did not want to slander the doctor.   I included a link to the newspaper article.

Checking my email the next morning, I found that somebody had already commented on my blog.  Opening the comment I found it was from Dr. X and it said words to the effect of why didn't you contact me to get the facts straight before you published your blog.  I got a little chill over that because clearly the blog had been written by somebody (me) working in the same hospital, so I immediately went to the computer, a checked the blog for accuracy, made a few changes for clarity but left it up.  After all everything was in the public record.  I also Googled Dr. X and found to my mixed pride and horror that my blog was the second link after the local newspaper article.

Later that morning in the middle of the pain clinic, I could feel a dark energy and the sensation of something boring in the back of head.  I turned and looked at the door and standing there was Dr. X looking daggers at me.  I had of course never met her, but I asked the nurse who was standing in the door.  It is Dr. X, she said, and she wants to talk to you.  Tell her to wait and I will talk to her I said, and I finished up with the patient I was with.  Meanwhile I was playing out the scenario in my head.  I felt I had three options:  I could lie and say it wasn't my blog, I could say yes it is my blog and I stand by it,  or I could apologize.

I didn't have to do any of this.  When I finished with the patient, Dr, X had left,  I suspect she didn't want to talk to me, she just wanted to know what I looked like, possibly so she could bludgeon me in the parking lot later.  (This hasn't happened yet  but I do remember that revenge is a dish best served cold.)

I thought hard about this.  Besides bludgeoning me, I figured Dr. X was going to go to admin and say, look your chief of anaesthesia writes a blog in which he makes fun of administration, surgeons, intensivists, his colleagues and me.  I would be hauled to the Star Chamber, have my chief badge ripped off and possibly worse things might happen.
Now I should mention that if Dr. X had in a comment outlined her side of the story, I would probably have published it.  In fact if she had contacted me with her side of the story I might have copied it into my blog.  If she was getting railroaded that would have been a  pretty juicy story that I would have liked a piece of.

Anyway after I thought about it I took down the post.  I also took down some posts where I had been really critical of administration.  I wish now I had saved them because they were pretty good.  I sent her a letter through hospital mail, telling her that I had removed the post and asked her not to attempt to contact me for any non clinical matter.  

Now while protecting myself was onr motive I should mention that having placed a face onto a name, I did have a little sympathy for Dr. X who had (or maybe had not) done an egregiously stupid thing but had been publicly humiliated for over a year both by people talking behind her back and later by having her name published and maybe I shouldn't pile on.  

I continued to blog although you may notice I haven't been that prolific due to factors like writer's block, spending too much time on Facebook and other factors.

So last week out of the blue, a colleague emailed me to tell me how much she enjoyed reading my blog.  I have know her for a long time, we started at the Centre of Excellence together.  She was much more prescient than me and decamped to another hospital after a couple of years, while I soldiered on, convinced that things were going to get better.  Is it that obvious that it is my blog, I emailed her back.  Well I am pretty naive,but I could tell it was you, was her reply.  I now wonder how many people read my anonymous blog knowing that I am writing it?

No more.  I am unmasking myself sort of.  I am not going to publish my name because I don't want people easily finding this blog by googling me .  


I am an anaesthesiologist in Edmonton Alberta.  I was department head at a hospital there for 5 years until I was fired.  I also do chronic pain management in multiple locations with moderate success and if you read RateMDs apparently a lot of failures.

Most of what I have published on this blog is true, based on the highest quality sources, namely coffee room gossip and innuendo.  Where I have presented patient cases, they are either composites of patients or I have changed enough details to make identification of the patient impossible.

I have strong opinions.  I have insulted a lot of people and groups of people in this blog.  If you are offended sorry (or not).  In the 360 degree evaluation the hospital paid an American company to do on the administation shortly before I was fired, someone commented that I should stop insulting groups of physicians.  My response to that is when they stop acting like bozos, I will stop insulting them.  (My evaluation was otherwise outstanding as the nice man from Boston who phoned me told me,)

I will continue on with this blog and once I shake my Facebook and Netflix addictions I may actually publish more frequently.

1 comment:

ZMD said...

Congratulations on coming out of the closet, so to speak. Don't worry about many people identifying you by person since most of your readers probably don't live in Alberta. I have continued to try to stay anonymous for the exact same reasons you outlined. However, for anybody who lives in the Los Angeles area, they probably have a pretty good clue about which hospital I work in, though not necessarily actually identify me by name. You too may have noticed that I had a pretty bad case of writer's block for the past few months. My muse kind of got up and left for more fertile ground. But eventually you'll find something too juicy not to write about then all of a sudden ideas will start flooding your creative side again so don't give up. I enjoy reading your perspective on anesthesia and medicine from north of the border.
By the way, don't worry about poor evaluations from chronic pain patients. They really are that, a pain. That's the reason I didn't go into Pain Medicine.