A Mystic, a Mormon, and a Carpenter All Walk Into a Bar by Chris Park DO


“So, exactly what religion are you?” J asked. We were sitting across from each other at a Mexican restaurant.

“A christian mystic” I replied. He about fell into the floor laughing. He stopped long enough to catch his breath.

“What the hell is that?” He asked with an infectious grin.

“I’m not really sure” I said, as I plunged a chip into some salsa.

The conversation went back and forth like this for several minutes.

J was Mormon. He wasn’t looking to judge or convert me. He was just curious.

He had a growing family. He had adopted 2 girls and was in the process of adopting their 2 sisters. I admired him immensely.

In the doctor’s lounge, while we were all loading up on coffee, he would explore his decaf options. Always coming up with new things to drink and try.

He became a runner. He lost probably about 50 lbs. He would give us exercise advice “just go and run.”

He was a free spirit. A “hippy” soul. He was laid back, generous, and had a casual yet put together style.

He loved music. He wanted to take a few months off and follow a certain rock band across the country while they were on tour.

He had a magnetic personality. You felt like you could trust him with anything.

He was always scheming new ideas, new business ventures, and he had decided he would go to law school after he finished residency. To him, the world was full of optimism and promise.

But J was not without his demons.

I called him from a bar one night. A buddy and I were having a few drinks and we decided to give him a call and have him join us.

“Sorry guys, I can’t meet up right now. I’m in an AA meeting”

What? I had no idea.

I didn’t see him as an addict. He seemed too put together. Too functional.

I knew he had some issues in the past. But I thought this was due to partying. Having fun. Just a little marijuana here and there.

J died a few months later. Alone. In a car. With a needle stuck in his arm.

His patients lost an amazing doctor, his wife lost a husband, his daughters lost a father. And I lost a friend.

Addiction can strike anyone, anywhere, any time. It’s a demon with many faces. And it leaves nothing but carnage. It’s a war to the end. To those not in the trenches, they will never fully understand.

So, I’m going to keep doing what I do. I’m going to help every soul struggling with addiction that I come across. I will stand for those that can’t stand. I will fight for those that can’t fight.

I won’t always be successful. It’s the nature of the beast. But I’ll be damned if I don’t go down swinging.

I’m not doing this for J. I’m doing this for You. I’m doing this for me.

Hold on to those you love, for the flame burns dim and our life is but a whisper.

And to J, “I’ll see you on the other side, buddy”



Chris Park, D.O.

Dr. Park blogs here so please check it out.  He works at the New Albany Medical Group in Mississippi.  He graduated  Mississippi State University and earned his medical degree from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. After graduation, Dr. Park completed his family medicine residency at North Mississippi Medical Center where he served as Chief Resident. Dr. Park is Board Certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and maintains active privileges at Baptist Memorial Hospital Union County. Dr. Park practices full spectrum family medicine in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Dr. Park has a special interest in medically complex patients and addiction medicine.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  7 comments for “A Mystic, a Mormon, and a Carpenter All Walk Into a Bar by Chris Park DO

  1. Phil Gianelli
    August 31, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    As an addiction doctor and medical director for the HARP Medicaid Program in NYC for Beacon Health Options our motto is Nunquam Redono. It’s a disease not a bad decision. Figure it out.

  2. heidi
    August 31, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    To be worthy to serve the suffering. ..a monumental task, but we have chosen the profession and it is what we do everyday, recognizing that the successes of yesterday are not a given or a formula for success today or tomorrow…
    When we hold on to what is meaningful in medicine, we can lower our risk of burnout for sure…RIP Dr J

  3. The Do-Gooder
    August 29, 2016 at 11:25 pm

    “So, I’m going to keep doing what I do. I’m going to help every soul struggling with addiction that I come across. I will stand for those that can’t stand. I will fight for those that can’t fight.

    I won’t always be successful. It’s the nature of the beast. But I’ll be damned if I don’t go down swinging.”

    He’s clearly recalling an impactful experience that centers around addiction and how that shaped his life and career. I admire him for dedicating himself to TRYING and actually DOING SOMETHING…..while he’s busy “chasing flies,” maybe, just maybe, one of those “flies” will have been worth the effort.

  4. Dave Mittman, PA, DFAAPA
    August 28, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Nothing polyana about this at all.

  5. Sir Lance-a-Lot
    August 28, 2016 at 9:08 am

    I don’t want to come across as the negative jerk, but, I’m sorry, I’ve just got so little patience for this Pollyanna-ish stuff.
    I mean, I respect those few exceptionally patient and forgiving souls who can handle dealing with addicts day in and day out, and who occasionally experience success when banging their heads against this brick wall, but let’s be honest, success in dealing with the addict is not the typical outcome.

    I’ve got plenty of experience dealing with addicts and addiction of various kinds, in patients, friends, and family, over may years, and the one thing I have observed is that, except in cases of Divine intervention (or dumb luck – take your pick), there isn’t a darned thing you can do, except maybe delay the inevitable for a short time. Some people can use, maintain a steady state, and go through life with more or less dysfunction, some will blow their lives apart and then rise up to create them anew, and some will take the road straight to Hell, and kill themselves one way or another. They’re going to do what they’re going to do, and short of locking them in a padded room, there is nothing that you can do to significantly affect the ultimate outcome.

    We will all meet abusers who are obvious, and will piss us off, and we will all meet abusers who seem like great people, and will later implode, leaving us dumbstruck, or heartbroken.
    What, exactly, could you have done about J, the addicted doctor? He successfully kept his addiction hidden, and did great work at the same time. Could you have ferreted him out? Really? And if so, could you really have helped him? If you answer Yes, you are essentially just taking responsibility for his death, saying that You were in control and could somehow have done something.
    You couldn’t. Nobody could.
    Some people get cancer. Some people are addicts. It’s just the way it is. You have no more control over it than over the weather, and there but for the grace of God goes any one of us.

    Besides, you seem to have painted a picture here which points in another possible direction and then (insultingly, in my opinion) failed to acknowledge that obvious element: J affirmatively killed himself. How do you know that suicide was not his intention, rather than getting high?
    Suicide is a major killer of physicians, and I have seen no meaningful programs or attempts to address that fact. Sure, we’ll set up programs to humanely go after physician drug addicts (and any other physician who can be painted as somehow “flawed”) and “reprogram” them, with only, ahem, “minimal” destruction of their careers, but what the hell do you do about the inclination of almost every doctor to kill him (or her) self. Ridiculous hours? Crushing debt? Expectations of perfection? Terror of lawsuits? Susceptibility to frivolous patient complaints? Subjugation to the whims of idiot administrators and government functionaries? Didn’t think so.
    But the schmuck who screws up his family and possibly his patients by knowingly abusing drugs, he’s a frickin’ saint, right?

    You people can go to Hell with this do-gooder crap. Let’s help ourselves, help each other, help our profession, and help our patients, and fight the giant dragon that’s killing us, and not run around chasing flies with a fly swatter. A few people being addicted to drugs sucks, but a huge number of doctors waking up every morning and wondering whether today is the day sucks a whole lot more.

    And, yes, you’re darned right I keep several different means of cleanly killing myself available in case I ever need to. I have no need now, but I’ve been around too long to think I can predict the future, and I’d rather not have to do what one excellent cardiologist I knew did, and slit my own throat from ear to ear in the kitchen.

    • Doug Farrago
      August 29, 2016 at 6:03 am

      Hell of a welcome to someone new to our blog. I loved it. Mellows out this site a lot.

      • Sir Lance-a-lot
        August 29, 2016 at 6:34 am

        Well, gosh, Doug.

        I don’t mean in any way to be personally unwelcoming to this doc, who is clearly a great guy, and who is clearly working overtime at the burnout factory, but…

        You’ve got a story of a doc who’s a great guy, great doc, beloved by staff, colleagues, and patients, and —— Where is this story going? Yes, it’s the set-up to EVERY story about a doctor who committed suicide, presumably because it’s the ones who are most sensitive and try hardest to please everyone and do a great job who are the most likely to do themselves in
        Anyway —— and he kills himself, but, see, he kills himself with a drug overdose, so this isn’t a story about physician suicide, it’s a story about drug abuse.
        Right. Okay.

        I’m sorry if I came off as hostile, it’s just that this is a sore point of mine. Everything is all about helping everyone else, even when the message, that we need to help ourselves, is staring us right in the face. This is what makes us work too hard, care too much, take it all too seriously, and sell ourselves short, in terms of time, money, and general wellbeing.

        Many of us still think, deep down somewhere, that we are here to save the world, when really what we need to focus on doing, is to save ourselves.

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