Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Food for thought: Hard times?

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Today I'm reflecting on just a few of the things I heard from patients in just a single half-day at Grady Hospital . . . . .

  • Hurt in an accident so now have chronic back and neck pain due to a disk injury. Due to poor performance on a job that involves manual labor, was "let go."  Tried to get a few other jobs but never went beyond middle school and "not too good with secretary stuff that involve reading." This month got an eviction notice. Will likely have to move into a shelter.  
  • Off drugs and alcohol for almost fifteen years.  Lost job. Has three adult kids--one with a family living in a one bedroom and another with unstable housing due to mental illness. Other child just got married and patient "don't want to be a burden on nobody." Could move back with "old man" but not her first choice since "he still use and still drank" and "he one of them 'mad drunks' that like to hit on you when he get to drankin' too much." Probably will live in her car until gets another job. Drank an entire six pack of malt liquor last night due to "nerves bein' bad."
  • Overweight but affected by an illness that required high doses of steroids. Gained more weight due to steroids. Due to being overweight has terrible arthritis. Needs to exercise but finds it hard due to weight and pain. Needs to lose weight but on fixed income and relies upon "meals on wheels" for food which is not low fat at all. Can barely walk due to pain and probably needs knee and/or hip replacement. Can't get replacements due to weight. Needs to lose weight before replacements will be done, at least seventy five pounds. Can't exercise or change diet because. . . . .
  • Terrible toothache and mouth full of decayed teeth. Thought this appointment was with a dentist. Gets referred to dentist to get tooth extraction but will need at least the minimum co-pay. Doesn't have a single penny. Literally.  Received some pain medicine and antibiotics. Found a place that will give the antibiotic for free but for pain medication has to pay. Really needs the pain medicine. On way to see dentist who decides on no pay treatment on a case by case basis. If isn't deemed a suitable "no pay" patient, will either have to find the money or just deal with it.
  • Makes exactly three dollars too much to qualify for medicaid and exactly sixteen dollars too much to qualify for food stamps. Pays for medications out of pocket. All ten of them.
  • Previously homeless, likely due to mental illness. Came to Grady, and finally got a diagnosis. Has never been gainfully employed due to uncontrolled mental illness and incarceration. Receives disability due to mental illness, just enough to pay for apartment and live in government housing.  Two months ago, check cut in half due to child support judgment. Getting evicted in a week. Can't go to family because estranged due to mental illness. . . .

Wait. . . . .what did I have to complain about again? Oh, yeah. . .that would be a whole bunch of nothing.

Happy Tuesday.


  1. Thank you for helping me keep everything in perspective.

  2. I'm very guilty of burying my head in the sand... I need a reminder that I'm not the only one hurting... Thank you ;)

  3. I don't know if empathy can be taught to medical students (I do know this is a topic of intense ongoing discussion/debate), but if more students could model themselves after physicians you, we would have the most truly and deeply empathetic physician workforce in the world, bar none!

  4. Thanks for the reminder that it is not really all that bad.

  5. sounds like the stories i hear, but i'm in peds.


    here by way of ms. moon. nice to meet you

  6. Sad stories and there are so many. We all need to appreciate what we have and cut each other some slack.

  7. I understand the stories of being homeless, I lived in a bush on the side of the hollywood freeway for more than a year, ate out of garbage cans. I have had two heart attacks, vascular necrosis in both hips, diabetes,hypertension, and lets not forget AIDS. I sold my teeth to survive, yup, my teeth. two at a time lol. I still keep a smile on my face cause and I will be 50 this year. I was told in 1981 that I would be dead in 5 years..and guess what? I cant remember how I got to your blog before but have been reading it occasionally now ever since. Although I have these things going on in my life I am doing well and glad that someone has noticed all the things you have mentioned here. When I was out there struggling I couldnt look anyone in the eye. And I thought that nobody cared etc. I may seem to have it bad but actually I have it good and will never forget where I was as it keeps me going to whereever I am going..but with a smile. I now have a house and am surrounded by love outside of Atlanta.

  8. May I add that its nice to see someone like you actually hear the stories from others that are struggling. I would hear people speak of the Homeless ones like myself as if we were second class citizens or of another species. In downtown Atlanta people driving in there cars with bumper stckers that said support our troops but get out of the car and do everything to avoid the homeless veteran on the sidewalk. Or that Church next to Hope House at the corner of Washington and Trinity with a sign stating no camping, sitting , sleeping etc on church grounds, even the homeless veterans who at one time fought so that the church could practice its religion free from persecution.It's nice to see someone in your profession speaking in kinder terms about those less fortunate. I will shut up now..lol Thanks for noticing


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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