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Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The Top Five Things I Remember From Patients
Every day that you wake up to is a blessing. Be sure you treat it that way. -- Sally Huss
5. Don't Chew Gum:
I was in my first rotation in the hospital. I was at the V.A. in San Diego, taking care of someone with incredibly sad prognosis. I asked him, since I was new, if he had any advice on how I could do better?
He flashed a smile, looked at the floor, looked me straight in the eye, and said, 'Don't chew gum.'
I haven't chewed gum in the hospital ever since.
A pediatric cancer patient who was diagnosed at age twelve, I took care of her for every single anesthetic she had after I did her first surgery that took twelve hours. She had MANY procedures. We bonded, both Jessica and myself, and also with her parents, too. Her mom has since graduated from Divinity School and become a Chaplain at a major Children's Hospital.
I made a difference, not in one life, but three very precious ones; I am still friends with her parents to this day. Jessica passed at age fourteen, but she is in my heart forever. I have her picture in her cheer outfit, complete with pom-pons, right outside my bedroom door. It is the first thing I see when I step out of my room in the morning. I always say thank you to God for sending her to me. I learned so much...Jessica would have turned twenty-five tomorrow. I will have to give her mom and dad a call.
3. Mr. Fisher:
A patient when I was a medical student on Internal Medicine Rotation at the V.A. He was a tough stick and I had to draw his blood for the lab every morning. He would give me money to go buy coffee for both of us downstairs at the cafeteria (they only had decaffeinated on the trays). I did my first arterial stick on him. I was terrified. But when I got it, I jumped up and down I was so excited (it is technically challenging to do, and also painful to the patient, so I was afraid of that). Every time since, he called me 'The Vampire' and wanted me to take at least twenty milliliters of blood in each draw so I would 'be happy'.
Mr. Fisher told me once that he prayed for me. 'What else do we patients have to do besides pray for our doctors and nurses?' he explained.
That made sense.
Once when his blood sugar was dangerously low and they sent him to ICU before letting me know, I found him screaming, 'Where is my doctor? I want MY DOCTOR!' and the team was frantically treating him by squirting red gel Cake Mate Icing onto his tongue, pushing D50 i.v., and having him held down in steep trendelenberg position. When I figured out where he was, and he saw my face, and I held his hand, he got angry and said, 'WHERE WERE YOU?!' and then he calmed down. I hadn't yet graduated and gotten my M.D. and I was his 'doctor'!
2. The Helicopter with the Ruptured thoracic aortic aneurysm:
A patient was sent by air from Orange County to San Diego where I did my medical school cardiac surgery rotation. The thought of someone's life in the balance, and being sent so far just for us, and watching the helicopter land was totally awesome. I will never forget it.
By the way this engineer did very well and returned to full functioning.
1. My Colleagues I have Anesthetized:
Today I did two special request cases. They were people I know who work in the hospital elsewhere, but when they had to have surgery they requested me. These were from a more administrative part of the hospital. I spoke with the wife of one on the phone. She worked in medicine, and was nervous. She scheduled to take time off once he came home. I said, 'I have seen him for years around here; he is like family, I will be sure to take good care of him.' And both of them relaxed.
We care for each other in the hospital. So many have asked for my services--nurses, clerks, doctors...I am humbled and honored that they would want me at this time. My heart feels so good to know that I can be there for them! They say it is because I care.
I guess it was worth it, all those years studying and not having a good time doing something else.