Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Of Remembering Names

Any of your out there have the same problem as I do?
I shared this story with Kristin the other day. I was filling the Lexus up with gas in a nearby gas station. It was 6.45 am, and I was on the way to work. It was also pretty damn cold, for October. I was hungry (always too lazy to have breakfast, and I always curse myself 30 mins later) and sleepy.
"Dr. Magus!" I heard a yell (he had mispronounced my name).
A patient happened to be driving by, and recognized me. He excitedly looped around and drove into the gas station. He asked how I was, and proceeded to tell me how things have been for him since I last saw Mr. H. After a minute, he eyed me suspiciously, probably realizing that I haven't yet called him by name. He probably realized that I hadn't the foggiest idea what his name was.
I'm ashamed to say that was certainly the case. And though I do think of my patients as people not as diseases, when you see so many and you're as demented as I am, it's impossible to remember the name. The thing is, you do tend to associate faced with diseases. And while it took me days to figure out his name, I knew who he was right then. Mr. H with the hypopituitarism from neurosarcoid. I had not seen him in 6 months, but I had a clear picture in my head of his medical history, and what dose of steroids I had him on.
And so I asked him how he was doing, and when he last saw his neurologist, and how things were doing from that standpoint. I asked him when they next wanted to do his MRI. I asked him how his visit with his dermatologist went. He beamed, and excitedly gave me his updates while I waited for the tank to fill. I guess I had redeemed myself and he realized I do remember him. He shook my hand before we parted ways, and promised to keep me updated. And somehow, I wasn't hungry or cold or sleepy anymore the rest of that morning.
But it does remind me of the other time I ran into another patient in the store. Hadn't the foggiest idea what her name was. But I remembered her case, her diabetes. And I joked with her about not telling my nurses I had 2 frozen pizzas in my cart.
I think many of us are guilty of that though. We do think of patients as individuals, but perhaps to ease our recollection, we always begin our presentations with "This is a 50 year old man with Addison's" or "This is a 28 year old woman with hyperthyroidism...". Naturally we tend to remember medical details better than names. Nonetheless, I really should try to do a better job with remembering my patients my name though.
Anyone has any good remedies for poor memory?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try gingko biloba!

11:47 PM  
Blogger Tsu Lin + + said...

Gingko biloba helps, it seems. I take it once awhile. But you shoudl know better since I'm not a Dr!

10:36 AM  
Anonymous JImbo said...

Gingko helps it seems..but I can't remember if it's true...LOL!

6:12 PM  

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