Sunday, July 13, 2008

The ups and downs of being a doc

Life and a road trip recently took me through Rawlins, Wyoming. Hours of driving through the monotony of southwest Wyoming dictated the need for a pit stop; time to eat and rest glare-weary eyes.

We found a little restaurant, actually the only diner on Main St. that teemed with life and advertised breakfast served all day. Several stuffed animals graced the entryway, real stuffed animals including a bobcat caught for all eternity mid-leap as he brought down a fleeing pheasant. The women's room sported, of course, the title 'Cowbelles' and the men's merely 'Cowboys.'

The meal was so-so, they were out of blueberry muffins and I passed on the alternative biscuits and gravy. As we finished our meal, a tall and sunburned man strode by, balding head shaved close, a slight potbelly protruding over his turquoise studded belt buckle and a beeper hanging off the belt. Most heads turned as he passed, a wide variety of townfolk waved and called "Hi Doc."

Ah, a diner in a town where everybody knows your name. I longed to jump up too and yell "I'm a Doc" and have them all laugh with delight that this dusty aging hippie in coffee-spotted capris and a t-shirt was a colleague to their own dear Doc.

Anyway, Doc Rawlins got to the counter to pay his bill, and I waited to see if they would offer him a bag of blueberry muffins to add to the bag already on his waistline. But instead, the older woman at the register started in on a long story about her bowels and her trip to the regional hospital. Not that I was eavesdropping, but shoot, we were sitting nearby, and I was hoping, at least, for some wonderful tale about how the Doc had saved her aging aunt.

Then I remembered that I live in a neighborhood and shop at a grocery store where many know my name. Why one patient one day described her vaginal woes to me in produce, and another pulled down her lower eyelid in paper goods to ask me whether or not her bloodshot, oozing eye was conjunctivitis. It was. I called in a prescription right then and there to the pharmacy located just east of aisle 18.

On my second day back to work after our Wyoming tour, the nurse practitioner asked me to look at a cat bite, or rather a young woman's hand with four cat bites on it one of which had penetrated her thumbnail. In the day since the feline's attack, the hand had swelled some, the thumb turning pink and puffy. Cat bites are nasty affairs; think for a moment what sorts of fishy things go in that mouth. I told the NP to call a hand surgeon and confirm that oral antibiotics would suffice for a now.

Several minutes later, she returned, sadly shaking her head. "No go, Chief," she reported, "I couldn't get past the front desk with my question. They offered me an appointment for next Tuesday."

What sort of nonsense was that? I strode to the phone and pulled the officious "This is Dr. P, I need to talk to your on-call physician now about a patient."

"Just a moment, I'll get Dr. W," the receptionist said. A moment later she returned to ask "Would this be about a cat bite perhaps? We just had a patient call here for advice a moment ago."

The hand surgeon came on the line shortly thereafter and confirmed the NP's plan as a good one. I realized then, once again, the value of the title and the ease with which it takes me right to the top. Maybe someday it will get me blueberry muffins as well.


Reality Man said...

So this is supposed to make us feel good about the efficiency of the medical profession?

Cilicious said...

haha reality man
Well, Doc P did get things done.
We had a lot of docs on our old block in Denver--they really came in handy a couple of times, for looking in my kids' ears etc--but I tried not to take *too* much advantage of them. I certainly did give them the occasional cranberry bread. :)
That Wyoming drive always seemed so lonely and desolate to me. No doubt Doc Rawlins is much appreciated.

JeanMac said...

Interesting description of life in a small town - but to bother you when shopping - mercy. Methinks the receptionist is wielding bit too much power. I've heard biscuits and gravy is a standard fare in some areas:)

kenju said...

One can only hope!

You are a very patient and kind doc if your patients describe their ills to you at the grocery (and you let them). I visited with my cousins this past weekend (a retired opthamologist) and didn't even ask him about my blepharitis!! I felt so
good about it.....LOL

FlautoNP said...

When the other practice discredited the NP you work with, did you call them on it? That would have been a nice opportunity to let them know that your NP is a competent professional, who already had a good plan but was contacting them to collaborate. There's no room for disrespect when we're all working together for the good of the patient. Hope her cat bite turned out ok!

Femail doc said...

Hi FlautoNP, thanks for dropping by. You are so right, I should've said something to that snippy little defensive back at the front desk of the hand surgeon's office. Or I should've said something to the hand surgeon herself. Will do so in the future. Thanks for heads up!

30 years from Darling said...

When I got bit by my cat (while I'm on prednisone and Cellcept ..immunossupressives) I call the doctor's office, mid-day on Tuesday. before lunch.

The receptionist gives the note to the doctor "patient thinks shey 'may' have been scratched by her cat"

Um, I told them I was BITTEN and it was deep and there were 3 puncture wounds that were still bleeding 20 minutes later.
But I digress.

I was called in keflex and told to 'watch it'.
I set my alarm when blogging doctor friends were more alarmed than my alarm clock could ever be ...
and called first thing in the morning ..annoyed, they gave me an appointment for this 'possible scratch'.

my doc was not happy to find my entire forearm swollen, and quite an infection having set up around the 3 bites.

(neither was the patient) She told me if I feel like I'm being blown off by any doctor, including her office ...and it's something as serious as a cat bite ... GO TO ER ...they get infected ... and when you're immunocompromised ...don't ignore it. (funny, that's what a couple of my blogging doc friends said ..hmmm)

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