My life as a Malaysian doctor in the United States.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Sometimes, this job gets a bit thankless. After all, we work long hours, deal with crazy bureaucracy (having to deal with prior authorizations, insurance companies, auditors etc), to have little tangible benefit especially when many patients don't want to be there. It's easy to forget why we go into medicine. To heal; if not the body at least the spirit.
And so sometimes it's fun and a bit refreshing to do something different.
This week, Mr. N, one of my patients with metastatic thyroid cancer, ended up in the hospital for complications following a surgery. And though he is diabetic, he was craving a chocolate milkshake from McDonalds. I got blessings from his surgical team, and dropped off a milkshake and some car magazines for him (though it might seem hypocritical when your endocrinologist brings you a dessert!).
Also, Mr. J, whose wife has been struggling through complications of chemo in the last few months, was finally able to organize a trip for the two of them to the beach. He shared at his last office visit with me: "This was going to be our last trip together. I don't think she'll hang on much longer". It's heart-wrenching to see a 68 year old man cry, a reflection of the deep love they have between then. And so I was delighted to hear that they were able to make this trip- that she was feeling well enough. I was able to track down which hotel they were going to be staying at, and organized a dinner for them, on me (my compliments to Snapper Sea Grill at St. Pete's beach, whose team was so accomodating with my many phone calls). I had wanted to organize a limo ride from the airport, but found out they rented a car.
He said he has never had a physician do this for him. I'm not sure if he understood my response when I told him that this job has become too numbing, but that it was these little joys that bring so much pleasure to me, and makes this job feel human again. I thanked him for letting me indulge in this fun activity.
I imagine I'll see him in a month for follow up- I look forward to seeing pictures from his trip.
But truly, once in a while I think we need to do something fun for our patients, to remind us of the joys of being so involved in their lives.