Confession: I don't know what's wrong with you. No. I mean, literally. I really don't. I have examined you repeatedly. I have carefully pored through your labs and your medications. I have spoken to the consultants and reviewed the multiple pictures taken of your various body parts. And still. I am no closer to knowing an answer than I was when I started.
I ride the elevator thinking about you. Maybe this? Oohh! What about that? And then I run to the nearest computer to look it up only to find that, no, your situation isn't consistent with any of those things. That or the fact that somebody else already had thought of that before my elevator epiphany and ran a test already. Which also came back negative.
So here I am. Right back at square one. Five days into caring for you and as perplexed as I was on the first day. And it's not like you're necessarily worse. But still, you aren't better. At all. And me? I like seeing people get better.
No. It doesn't work like people think it does. Or how they show it on television. We don't always know the answer right away. A lot of times we do. But there are definitely times where we don't. Nope. It's not like House M.D. or E.R. And it's not like Scrubs or Grey's Anatomy, either.
(Okay, maybe my team does get pretty close to Scrubs at times, but that's not the point.)
The point is that that guy House on House M.D. strolls right into hospital rooms and effortlessly turns those perplexing patients like you into sexy ah hah moments. Wrinkling his brown and twisting his mouth until suddenly--ah hah--he asks if anyone thought of, oh, I don't know, cyanide poisoning or something. (Because clearly had anyone simply asked about the cyanide leak in that apartment building, they'd have put that all together.) And just like that, he saves the day within the sixty minutes allotted for solving the case.
But Dr. House isn't a real doctor. He just plays one on T.V. And those patients that he sees? With their cyanide poisoning and their acute intermittent porphyria are actors paid big money to put on fake backless gowns and force out real-appearing tears. But you are more than just a real-appearing patient. You are a real person with a real problem. And, so far, I can't solve it. Because I still don't know why you have it or what it is.
These are the times that I wish I didn't care. The days that I wish I was cool with just shrugging my shoulders and saying "oh well!" But, see, I do care. I sure do--and so do a whole lot of other people.
But still we don't know what's wrong.
So now I am about to read some more and think some more about you. I'm going to examine you some more and ask as many smart people as I can about you until someone finally says with twisted mouth and furrowed brow, "Ah hah!"
And just maybe . . . if we pay attention. . . that smart person will be you.
Honestly? I write this blog to share the human aspects of medicine + teaching + work/life balance with others and myself -- and to honor the public hospital and her patients--but never at the expense of patient privacy or dignity.
Thanks for stopping by! :)
"One writes out of one thing only--one's own experience. Everything depends of how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give."
~ James Baldwin (1924 - 1987)
"Do it for the story." ~ Antoinette Nguyen, MD, MPH
Details, names, time frames, etc. are always changed to protect anonymity. This may or may not be an amalgamation of true,quasi-true, or completely fictional events. But the lessons? They are always real and never, ever fictional. Got that?