Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Defining moments

I find many of patients get associated in my mind with one 'defining moment,' whether it be some event in their lives that they've described to me or some notable medical problem that they've had. When I see them in the waiting room or even just seeing their name on the day's schedule evokes these strong associations.

One delightful sixty-something African-American woman wished to travel several years ago and went looking for a tour group to join. By some means unremembered, she hooked up with a busload of middle-aged white guys from a poker club in Colorado Springs. This odd pairing of my patient with this bunch of buddies turned out splendidly. While she has not been able to travel much since, the C. Springs men have called her on several occasions to join them on the road or just to see how she's doing.

Another one of my patients exactly my age told me on questioning that she had attended Kent State during her undergraduate years. Immediate goosebumps for me: "So you were there in the spring of '70?" (talk about a defining moment for an entire generation) "My roommate," she says, "died that day in my arms."

One of my favorite layered memories of a patient involves first finding years ago an extensive inflammatory cancer in her breast. On surgery, all lymph nodes found were positive for cancer. That, of course, is not the good part of the memory. What makes me smile is that ten years later she brought me a bottle of wine to celebrate a decade cancer-free. Even better yet, now 16 years have passed and wine or no, I love seeing her for mundane routine check-ups.


Amanda said...

Wow, on the both ladies you mentioned!

I have to wonder how my current GP will remember me. Will it be because I sent him first my husband and then my father as patients? Will it be the way he seems to think I'm funny? Will it be the way I drop 10 lbs. between each visit (there are a few months between each)...

Or will it be because of the Chantix thing? I swear, the guy almost did backflips, LOL.

Femail doc said...

I would remember you for successful weight loss AND smoking cessation, Amanda. Success on both fronts is rare enough to be notable.

And do I remember people for the patients they later send to me? Yes, at times, but often in a semi-negative sort of way. On average though, I love seeing the whole family--minus the kids, of course, I don't do kids!

Mauigirl said...

My GP will remember me as the patient who always comes to the doctor with her own health theories after having done massive resesarch on whatever symtpoms she has! (It actually does pay off sometimes...I really DO get weird things wrong with me!) Whenever I go there she pulls out my file with a smile at its thickness...

Amanda said...

Heh.. well, at least I haven't sent Doc S. any kids yet! But he does see pediatric patients... and honestly, it's one reason I chose him, beyond his proximity to Dad's and my workplace. See, the boys' pediatrician is female. My thought process has been that in their early life I needed them to have a doctor *I* was comfortable with. Ergo, they went to my pediatrician (I started going to her when I was around 1, and she was in her very late twenties or early thirties).

Since then she's had three kids and I've had two. When I was terrified I was expecting No. 3 (I wasn't), she commiserated. When I found out I wasn't, I let her know and we both did The Happy Dance of Joy, LOL.

The lady rocks. But I'm also aware that my boys won't always want a girl doctor, so I've paved the way on that end as well.

Doc S. cracks me up, and he's more observant than I initially gave him credit for. I give thanks to the doctor blogging community for my ability to recognize that. Before I entered the insanity of the medblogging world I might have thought, "Oh, he's just saying that because he has to," or somesuch. Now, though, after reading all of you and after knowing Doc S., I know that many of you really do care, and your words aren't just words, they're an accurate reflection of your feelings.

Thank you for that gift.

Amanda said...

Okay, 1 equals 14. I obviously over-edited there. But I started with my pediatrician when I was around fourteen years old.

Needless to say, she and I have been together for many MANY years.