Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cramping, Her Style

"Is there a doctor on board the plane?”

Huzzah, I've waited decades for that line.

The teenager behind me fainted, alarming her seatmate. Across an armrest and forty years, we chat as she recovers. She laughs as I call her period a ‘newspaper’ in Spanish, but, despite two languages, we both agree that cramps are a drag.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wow, hadn't expected that!

My patient pumped Purel in her palm, leaned over the counter as she rubbed it into her hands.

“You should be glad I’m using this,” she opined to my front office clerk who looked up with an inquisitive arching of brows.

“Yep, you see I don’t wash my hands,” my patient shot back with a serious nod.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Out but not down

She went from diarrhea to deadly abscess in less than two weeks. What do you say to a ski instructor whose season nearly ended forever in the surgical suite?

She answered with an upbeat "Hello?"

"How you doing?" I asked. She'd been home for a week.

"I just went for a walk, and so glad to be out."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Life cycles

Mortally injured, Dave lingered a month and then died. Businessmen sat through his funeral next to the grizzled, pony-tailed riders of his beloved Harley club.

I stood afterwards, eyes filling, as one hundred-plus bikers headed down the boulevard, Dave in tow, bearing him away even as he smiled next to me from his daughter’s eyes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Blow and Tell

She stood by the counter, a brown grocery sack in hand. Without a word, she upended the brimming bag, used Kleenexes tumbling over the surface, some falling onto the ground.

“This,” she declared angrily, “is one day’s worth of tissues. I need help now!”

Eyes wide, mouth clamped shut, my front desk receptionist grabbed for the Lysol.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Oh gad, get me outta' here!

My patient looks sick--eyes glassy, cheeks flushed, and his voice an octave too low.

“Any cough?” I ask. Lord I don’t want what he’s got.

“Yes, just started...it hurts...from deep in my chest,” he rasps then demonstrates wetly, his hand about a yard from his mouth.

Oh yuck, that which he harbors now floats in my air...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A distressing typo' problem

Patients like to weigh in by e-mail, and I, in turn, can read them at will. This strategy, however, may be harmful to health:

"I am still having an upset stomach and episodes of diarrhea. They are happening after each email now instead of just in the evening."

Back away from the computer, ma’am. Phone me instead.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I, Phone Woman

I checked for drug interactions with a flip of a finger, a middle-aged techno-babe plying my apps.

As I put down my iPhone, the room exploded with an arcade-style riff.

“Nice ringtone!” I said to my patient.

“Uh...I think that was your phone.”

Oh dang, I opened my games while closing down drugs. Not so tech savvy after all.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

She lives on in my heart

Della died from liver disease one month after her first grandkid was born.

At her funeral, I got a heart-shaped pin with her picture attached. Lipstick red as her shirt, chin lifted, she smiles at me still. I keep it at hand as a reminder that life should never be viewed through a jaundiced eye.