Saturday, January 30, 2010

Well...sort of okay 2

A hands on sort of doc, I’ve been known to personally tote samples for analysis from restroom to lab. One day, I teetered while toting, splashing the specimen on the front of my shirt.

“Oh well,” I shrugged. “Waste is a terrible thing to mind.”

My mantra that day? I’m okay with urine, I’m okay with urine.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The last dance

Grandma’s cancer showed up first as a clot in her leg. Two months to diagnosis and a year to her death.

Mary showed me tender red cords on the back of her leg; she was scheduled to dance in ballet class later that day. One week to diagnosis--thanks to Grandma-- and a year to her death.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Taking great pains with patients

She limped in and plopped on a chair. Smiling brightly, she asked how I was.

“Worried,” I replied. “You’re getting Vicodin from three different docs.”

Eyes wide in a ‘Moi?’ sort of way, she phoned her husband--had he picked up these meds?

Our eyes met as tears formed and rolled down her cheeks. She closed up her phone.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A trip down denial

Advil is her friend and her foe.  A health professional with serious pain, she struggles as well with her fear and her bank balance.

Her latest labs come in; D now stands for dialysis and not just denial.  I call with the news.  A teenager sets down the phone as she yells for her mom.  

Thursday, January 21, 2010

False pride

Good hair day today so I had to head to the head to take it in once more.  Just a glance, can’t keep my first patient waiting.  Turned slowly in front of the mirror, big smile (teeth looking good too!).  But then...

Two stethoscopes hanging around my neck.  Music grinds to a halt.  Exit laughing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What am I missing here?

He’s three months short of college graduation.  His mom did most of the talking.  Two years, three symptoms, zero diagnoses.

His exam and his nodes were normal.  No need for tests; it’s dry air and bad posture.  He claimed he felt calmed. 

All this training, all this acumen, and I still don’t know what they needed.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Not so bad after all

It’s lung carcinoma.”

I was crying in the rain, drenched in bad news,  phone pressed to ear. Not surprised by the diagnosis yet completely speechless.

The surgeon was puzzled by my tears: “We did expect this”.

She smiled later as we talked, “Either I’ll die or I won’t.”

And she didn’t. Not for 17 years.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A hint of hope

The young engineer sat bolt upright in his chair, eyes fixed on the floor.

"Anything different on Prozac?"

"Well, perhaps a little less agony."


"Are you keeping up at work?"

"I'm compliant."


"Dude," I declared, we've got more work to do!"

With a hint of a smile, he lifted his gaze to mine.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Well...sort of okay

No warm fuzzy doc this radiation MD.  He reassured us not with his discussion of “gray units,”  “fields,” and “we’ll shield your eye.” (Oh now I feel better! A lesson in physics but the subject’s his face!)

“Are you okay with this?” I asked.

“Sure, no problem,” he declared, backing his beloved Jeep Cherokee into a pole.

Monday, January 11, 2010

One count against him

Phone message at two a.m.:  Quest Labs calling with “critical results”.  Oh no, Mr. G. has a white blood cell count over 100,000.


No point ruining his sleep.  Morning will come too soon enough.  Meanwhile, I’ll lie wide awake for both of us, thinking of this family man whose shortened life has changed forever.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dogs, Dung, and D-ficiency

“What fills your heart with joy?”

“My two Italian greyhounds!” 

Their 60-something owner, her skin Minnesota white and muscles undefined, complained that scooping poop was nearly impossible.

“Hurts the back?”

“That and weak, so weak,” she replied and used both arms to struggle from her chair.

This is more than out of shape, I thought, and ordered tests.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Eulogy for a gardener

Why did Dani die?

She overcame alcoholism, sepsis, and pancreatitis to become a gardener.  I  saw her in September; her boyfriend had ‘stolen’ her methadone.  Her next appearance was in the October obits.

I drove crosstown through sleet to the funeral, arrived, alas, ten minutes late.  The service was already over.  What sort of send-off was that?

Monday, January 4, 2010

No brains. Period.

First we chatted a bit, two like-minded women just shooting the breeze.  Joan told me about last year’s hysterectomy; she finally dares again to wear white!

Squinting at my watch (where ARE my darn glasses??), I shifted position and grabbed for my pen.  Time to get down to the annual exam.

“So,” I began, “Periods still heavy?”

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Caught in my civvies

Ms. C looked, as always, like a million bucks.  Fresh from church, she wore matching hat, bag, and heels, her suit a resplendent royal blue.  She hailed me in the produce department.

“Ms. C, you look fabulous,” I enthused after a hug.

“And you, Doc,” she began, her eyes sweeping down over sweatshirt and pants. “You look...comfortable.”