Don't let the sun go down on your grievances
Image by kevindooley via Flickr

I really didn’t want to go work that day.  I was battling the healthcare blues.  Nor did I want to see my first patient. 

She was big, angry and intimidated the hell out of my staff; and she wasn’t used to being up so early.  She eyed me as I walked past the exam room and I had eyed her as well.  My staff was considering calling security. 

I entered the exam room then calmly sat down; feeling her stares piercing the back of my head.  I reviewed her chart.  It was complicated.  And she was waiting for me to pass judgment so that she could rip me to shreds.  But there would be no judgment from me that day.   I had seen her anger  reflected in the eyes of my own mirror.  I knew what it was like to feel her pain.

Her health problems were a mile long; each one compounding the other.  And her lifestyle certainly didn’t help.  The first order of business was to lower her alarming blood pressure before she ended up having a stroke.  She had been given five different medications in the ER; all inappropriate for a pregnant woman.  Thankfully she hadn’t taken any.  We called the social worker, who came right away and then we began to chisel away at her problems.  She had fallen short of life’s expectations and had alienated her family, but this pregnancy had given her the courage to try again.  She was not young and neither was her partner.  The baby represented their second chance for redemption.

By the end of her visit, I gave her a hug.  She clutched her new prescriptions with pride.  She entered our clinic as an angry woman but departed with a smile.  And I remembered — why I became a physician.

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