July 21, 2013
I want to thank those of you who called to see if everything is ok. It is. When I fail to publish an article, people worry. Having written close to a thousand articles over the last three years, I occasionally run out of things to say.
This was my birthday weekend and it was a bittersweet one. My kids are in from out of town to celebrate with me. They’re in the kitchen preparing a feast. I love watching them work together.
In my world, children are what it’s all about. I’m old enough now to be caring for the children of the kids I took care of over the last 29 years. The bitter portion of the week is that I put one of those kids in the hospital (on my birthday). Putting a kid in the hospital is miserable! It saps your strength. It shakes your faith. It also fills you with self-doubt.
The clinician/scientist in me knows that it was unavoidable. The human side of me wonders if I could have done something different, found it earlier or prevented it. I’ve never been good at keeping the professional distance that protects physicians against the emotions I’m feeling at this time. I’m a family doc and my patients are part of my extended family. This kid is like a nephew.
I got an unexpected and great present on my birthday. The specialist, who is responsible for my patient’s care, called me to update me on the diagnosis and treatment plan. I do not know this doc and listened intently to his very professional opinion. I’m used to doctor-to-doctor signoffs and this one was as expected. What was unexpected came 10 minutes after I hung up. The specialist called back to tell me that even though he knows the diagnosis, he could not find any signs of the problem on my patient on exam.
This exceptional physician called back to reassure me that I didn’t miss the diagnosis and couldn’t have made the diagnosis any sooner. Even though I’ve never met him, he was caring for the emotional side of me. In doing so, he also insured that my clinician/scientist was totally comfortable with him caring for a child so near to my heart. What a great birthday present!