Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Family Medicine: Grieving and Crying With You

"Dr. Jonas, did you see this note yet?"   I look.  Someone died.  A patient of mine.  For 15 years. Gone.  Complex disease.  Complex life.  Complex grief.

Next patient.  Sinus pressure, sore throat, ear pain.

I read the death note again.  Sad. I see his face.  Reflect on our last encounter.
He was thankful.  He was prepared.

Next patient.  Hospital follow-up.  Review meds.  Change one dose.  Review the hospital labs.  Note the intentions of the surgeon.  Clarify preparations for the surgery and timing of follow-up.

Phone call with widow.  I listen to the story.  I respond to her feelings.  We agree a few times.
I hang up.  A wave of sadness comes over me.  A tear starts.  I stand to go to the next exam room.  A staff member asks me a question.  I have to clear my throat to answer.  One tear. One choke. One wave.  Until the next patient.

Look at his name.  Ask another staff if they saw that he died. Reflect again.  Part of doctoring. Intermittent grief.  Loss.  The human condition.  Ends for one.  Starts for another.

Next patient.  Can't get enough breath.  Medication, Ohio, COPD all fight the lungs.  Stop one drug. Start another.


Now I can cry with them.  For them.

Pray for them. And me.

The blog.  Not the next patient.


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