Friday, June 29, 2012

I've been at this job for 4 years now. Longer than any other in the past (though I was at my alma mater for 6, it was 3 years in internal medicine and 3 in endocrinology so I didn't keep the same patients for too long).
Long enough to get to know some patients well, well enough to consider them friends. After all, if I'm seeing someone for diabetes every 3 months x 4 years, and sometimes when they are admitted to the hospital, then that adds up.
And so, today I got a call from a patient's daughter. Mrs. P, a delightful 86 year old woman with oxygen-dependent COPD and type 2 diabetes on multiple daily insulin, had passed away in her sleep.
I called her daughter back to offer my condolences. And while it was the courteous thing to do, to call the family, deep inside I really did feel a tinge of sadness.
I remember the last time I saw her, just 2 months ago. She asked to see pictures of Allison. And with a twinkle in her eye prophetically said that Alli's going to be a handufl when she is 2. I remember her wicked sense of humor, and her infectious smile despite her chronically cyanotic lips. And how she trusted no one else to manage her insulins; how she yelled at that poor hospitalist that one time and demanded he "consult Dr. V to manage the insulins" because they were doing a "shitty job" (they weren't actually). 
If there's one thing I like about this job, it's that I get to share so much of my patients' lives. And, if I can allowed to say this, this also means the losses when they pass on.
Rest in peace, Mrs. P. You've had a long, full life. May you be at peace.
I shall miss our visits; I hope I took good care of you whilst I was your doctor. It was my priviledge, really.


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