Random person: What kind of doctor are you?
Neurondoc: I am a neurologist.
RP: What is a neurologist? Are you a brain surgeon?
Me: Umm, no, I don't get my hands dirty and I don't perform surgery.
RP: You're not a brain surgeon?
Me (slightly annoyed): No.
RP: So what does a neurologist do, if they can't do surgery?
Me: I treat patients with neurological diseases.
RP: Ah.... How?
Me (grrrr): With medications and therapies and sometimes referrals for surgery.
That is a not uncommon exchange between me and some random curious person, regarding my medical specialty. Unfortunately, many medical students and physicians exhibit a similar attitude, which is characterized as "diagnose and adios". There are many neurological diseases and disorders that do not have treatments, so many medical professionals consider it a frutiless specialty -- we can diagnose the patients, but we can't do a thing for them. It is a highly annoying attitude that pervades medicine in general. When I decided to go into neurology during my 3rd year of med school, I got one of several reactions ("Why?" "Yuck!" "Better you than me." "Diagnose and adios..." "You can't do anything for the patient, why do you want to go into neurology?" etc). Sort of like Bones McCoy's attitude to 20th century medicine in Start Trek IV, but even more annoying.
The brain absolutely fascinates me, nerves to a lesser degree. The brain is the organ that all other organs exist to support and live to serve. The heart pumps blood to the brain -- percent blood flow from heart to brain is 15-20%. The lungs oxygenate blood to provide the brain with oxygen, and the brain uses about 20% of total resting oxygen.* The gut absorbs nutrients so that the brain gets fed. The liver and kidney clean the blood of toxins and other crap, so that the brain remains healthy and isn't poisoned in situ. The eyes provide visual information for the brain to process; the ears allow for auditory recording. The legs move the body around so that the brain has new things to experience or to avoid dangerous situations. I am "brain-o-centric", okay?
However, I do have to agree that neurology is fraught with progressive, degenerative and untreatable conditions: e.g., Huntington's Disease, Alzheimer's diease, Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS), Muscular Dystrophy, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury. Even the "treatable" ones are not usually curable: Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, Parkinson's Disease, Epilepsy. So why am I a neurologist? As I said, the brain is totally cool and interesting. Knowledge in medicine is ever-expanding, and we are learning more and more about the underlying workings of the brain, spinal cord and nerves, and also about the diseases that affect the nervous system.
Perhaps, Pinky and the Brain express their love of the nervous system better than I ever could...
Fun website for silly brain and other nervous system facts is Brain Facts and Figures
* Kandel et al., Principles of Neural Science, New York: McGraw Hill, 2000 (<--- look a footnote!)