The focus of this web site is medicine. In this blog, you’ll read about patient stories. The situations have been changed to be HIPAA compliant. You’ll also read a lot about health care policy. I may throw in posts about life lessons, computers, and will even throw in family stories once in a while. If you’re looking for articles about politics, sports, or celebrities, you’re in the wrong place – unless the topics have some relationship to medicine.
If you want to add a guest post or to cross-post something from your blog, or if you have a patient story you want me to write about, e-mail me. See more information in the “About Me” page.
By Birdstrike M.D. I walk out of the patient room. My eyes stare at the computer screen. I’m behind, way behind. I roll my head on my neck. My neck feels tense, and I have a headache. It’s been a long week. I need a vacation. Hurry up, click-click-click this computer, I think to myself. Dammit, is this EMR really freezing up again? I look up. A man walks out of a patient room across the hall. Our eyes lock. I quickly look away. Ouch, my neck. There are patients waiting. I need to get moving, or I’ll never get out of here, I think to myself. I put my head down and turn to walk away. “Doctor. Doctor. Are you Doctor Bird?” he calls to me with urgency. Crap, I think to myself. I’m never going to get caught up. He does look familiar. I hope he’s not mad at me. Who is this man? He probably wants to sue me, or maybe he’s angry I didn’t prescribe him those pills he wanted. Man, my neck. “Yes?” I answer, hesitantly. “Did you work at —– —– Medical Center about 10 years ago?” he asks. He looks so, so familiar, but I can’t place him. “You won’t remember me, but you took care of my son,” he says, with a faint, but warming smile. Right then, it hits me, like a ton of bricks. “My son had cancer,” he says. “Brain cancer,” I answer, and right then my mind goes back 10 years at warp speed, back to room 10, during a chaotic shift at my first job out of residency. I’m looking at a 12-yr-old boy laying in bed. His eyes are sunken and gaunt, skin pale, hair blond. He’s dying of cancer and all treatments have failed. I had never seen a child so sick, so ill appearing, yet still alive. He looks like he’s in terrible pain. There’s nothing left to do, but to try to make his last few days, hours and moments as painless as possible. He needs IV fluids, some pain and nausea medicine and needs to be made comfortable. In a chair next to him is his father, dying inside. My heart sinks. “I remember you, and I remember him. I even remember the room you were in.” “He died shortly after that. But I still remember you. You really took the time to ease his suffering, if only for a short time. That meant a lot to me. Most of all, you seemed to actually care,” he says. I felt a little dizzy. I felt like I was having a flash-back of the PTSD sort; so vivid and real. I remember the chaos of the shift. Walking down the far hallway, walking in the room and closing the door. As the door closed behind me, the noisy chaos behind disappeared, and it was stark quiet. I remember feeling the heart-wrenching sadness of this man sitting next to his dying son, so helpless. I felt equally helpless. I remember thinking, I don’t care how many patients are waiting. I don’t care how long the wait is, or what chaos is swirling outside that door. I need to pause and try to at least listen, if only for a short time. I need to at least acknowledge what this boy, his father and family are going through. I need to try to find some way, no matter how small, to make things a little better, or a little less painful for both of them, if I can. At the very least, I need to ...Read More »