Invisible                  
May 30, 2013

By Leonard Zwelling

            Have
you ever felt like you aren’t even there? People walk past you without
acknowledging your existence? The work you deem important is recognized by no
one. Your enthusiasm is a photon, an unshared packet of energy without mass.
You go home unsatisfied and yet have difficulty bringing any energy to your
family life for you have spent the day being emptied and now have little left
to fill the needs of others. It just ain’t fun—fun being defined as pleasure,
engagement and meaning. Welcome to MD Anderson.

            Over
the two months or so I have been writing this blog, I have received all kinds
of feedback from many people. Some have liked what I have written. Others have
not. Most like some and not other parts. Even one of my closest friends only
agrees 80% of the time. I consider that pretty good. This has been fun for me.

            I
have even been asked to stop writing by those under whose skin I am trying to
get. Again, another sign of success and a real compliment. I never thought my
words had that kind of power but at least it is raising the heat on those who
deserve a special place in….well, you know. I am not trying to make them
uncomfortable to be mean, but I am trying to wake them up to what is happening
around them about which they are doing nothing or worse, aiding and abetting.

            By
far my favorite reaction is the giggle. One faculty member recently saw me and
started to giggle telling me she laughed just thinking of the blog. That last
one made my heart soar, for making people laugh is the best medicine this doc
can administer any more given it’s been 22 years since I cared for a real
patient.

            I
started the blog when the Faculty Voice was silenced for what may or may not
have been trumped up reasons. A piece I wrote for the Sentinel was rejected by
the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate so I just decided to try to learn
how to blog on my own and see what happens. As of today, May 30, the blog has
had over 23,000 page views. For this I am eternally grateful for anyone who has
read even one of my posts.

            Those
of you who have read these have rescued me from being invisible for my many
offers to help this administration in the various aspects of its duties that
fall into my narrow area of expertise, have been rejected. It’s fine. I get it.
I am just too vocal, too combative, too non-compliant (and I don’t mean with
regulations but rather in my rigidity to adhere to procedure, process, and
ethics) to find a place among the folks leading MD Anderson currently. Let’s
face it. I am radioactive. They view me as a pain in the neck and I was even
called to the principal’s office (20th floor) because the President
erroneously thought I was the Cancer Letter leaker of the Senate data. Untrue
and I told him that when he finally stopped lecturing me after 25 minutes.

            Without
the feedback that you have given me for the past two months, I would feel like
a stranger in a strange land. Invisible. Thanks to you, I have hung on to the
belief that MD Anderson’s best days are ahead. However, to reach that goal some
disappearing of some kind by some of the people who my blog has singled out for
criticism might be in order. But this is not my call.

            It
is with great sadness that I write this as many of those I have criticized were
my friends at one point. I believe they have subjugated their previously excellent
judgment for the expedience of going along. Group think and moral relativism
have taken them to a place of rationalization of behavior they would have
previously condemned. I am fairly confident in this assessment for I fell
victim to it myself once many years ago when I served as an apologist for bad
behavior among people for whom I worked. I promised myself not to do that again.
So far so good, but I am no angel. I could slip in a minute and talk myself
into doing something that I know to be wrong by rationalizing it in some way.
We learned 30 years ago in Lawrence Kasden’s the Big Chill that rationalization
is more important than sex because you can’t get through a week without a rationalization.
The current leadership has just taken this to a new level. At some point there
must be some accountability. Or not.            

Leonard Zwelling