I will never forget the patient who shocked my preconceived notions about health care.
If you come into the hospital room before she arrives, you might miss the telltale signs of her existence. They are subtle — a soft sweater thrown over a chair for those drafty hospital wards or an absurdly expensive vegetable tray from the café downstairs on the patient’s table.
One thing bothers me: / Books are most of what we see. / Doctor-patient relationship — / Only mentioned in them, flip by flip.
If a provider cannot understand their patient, they are unable to treat them. Likewise, if a patient cannot understand their provider, how can they possibly adhere to their medical advice? “Getting by” is not enough; patients are entitled to someone who speaks their language, no matter how rare.
A glimpse into today’s media is enough to understand the general attitude of modern medicine and health care. While the majority of the population regards scientific progress as a blessing, a not-so-small minority is fearful of how this will negatively impact their health.
For Dr. Francois Luks, the pen is mightier than the sword. Armed with ink and a blank pad of paper, he begins to draw out a stomach. With a stroke here and some shading there, he deftly sketches the anastomoses of a procedural resection.
She and I experienced such extremes of strangerhood and intimacy in only 72 hours. But what a privilege it was, to be there for her when she had no one else, to advocate for her, to go a little (or a lot) above and beyond on her behalf, to see the inter-workings of this stranger’s life: this is why I chose medicine.
It was a Wednesday morning. The air was crisp. The sun graced us with brilliance. I made my way to the emergency room where I was working for a two-week period on the cardiology consult service.
It’s 1 a.m., everyone’s running on three cups of coffee / When a man stumbles through the entrance / And I could hear whispers of / It’s him, the homeless man, back in the ER again
To physicians, hospice frequently symbolizes defeat. Referring a patient to hospice care can feel like admitting that disease has defeated years of training. In medical school, we are trained that the role of the doctor is to fight the disease and find the cure.
During the team huddle I was assigned to Room 403, Bed 1. “There is a lot you can learn from this patient. You should see him.” I got the one liner and was off.
A pair of Navy socks on pale, scrawny legs — that’s what I remember about him. 0300 hours in the ED and the umpteenth “What brings you in tonight, sir?” and suddenly all the patients start to meld together.