Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Transitions of care.

"Why live a life from dream to dream
and dread the day that dreaming ends?"

~ Joe Sample


"Tomorrow is March 16. That means that another senior doctor will be taking over for me. I wanted to be sure you knew that since I've been seeing you every day."

"Really? You leaving me, Dr. Kim?"  You feigned a pout but then as it faded I caught something else in your expression. Less playful, more serious. It was hard to put my finger on.

You are young. You'd been very ill this hospitalization with something that would be chronic and life-altering. Over those last two weeks, you'd been through a lot. You appreciated my pictures on the dry erase board detailing exactly what was happening with your body. It didn't bother you when I erased the pain scale for which that hanging board was originally intended (even though the nurses weren't so keen on it.)

Yeah. This had been quite a ride.

"You know? I'm kind of sad about it," I said.  I sat on a chair across from you and twisted my mouth sideways. "You've been my F.P., man."

That made you release a weak chuckle. "Ha. F.P. What's that--favorite patient?" I nodded and you did the same from your bed. "Ha ha. That's what's up, doc."

That was what was up and it was true. Completely true without a single drop of exaggeration.

"How are you?"

"Real talk? I don't even know how I am. This shit is a lot. Like a whole lot."

"Yeah." That was real talk because all of this is a lot.

You looked at my face and seemed to want to counter that with something positive. This was your way; it didn't surprise me. "You kind of made it not as bad. The way you explained stuff. But I think because of that your whole team been real good about coming in and talking to me to make sure I know what the plan is. They do a real good job of that." The side corner of your mouth turned up when you said that.

"Well, that's good, sir, because all of them will likely be with you until you get discharged."

You smiled. "Oh, so you're the only one bouncing on me?"

"That's why they pay me the big bucks."  I leaned down on my knee and rested my chin in my palm. Our eyes locked for a beat and we both smiled.

"People need to know what's going on. Like sometimes? You just lay here feeling scared that they saying one thing in front of you but a whole 'nother thing outside, you know? That's scary."

I was still leaning forward when you said that and chose to remain silent to see if you had more to say.

"I think that's why I was always so happy to see you. I knew you were gon' keep it real."

"What made you know that?" I wanted to know.

"That one day when they did that one test and things had gotten worse? You came in and broke that shit down. Like, you wasn't mean about it but you was like, 'This is your body and you need to know what all of this mean.' And in my heart, I knew something was bad happening but before then I felt like nobody was really saying it all the way. That's the first day you was drawing pictures on that board." You laughed at that. "And that nurse came in here going off when you left."

That made me smile, too. I sort of didn't know what to say, so I just said the first thing to pop into my head. "You deserve to know everything."

"I agree," you quickly replied.

I waited a few more seconds and then added, "You know? There've been times when I felt like I jumped the gun on explaining too much. Like it hurt and didn't help. So . . .you know? I appreciate those words. I do."

You nodded hard and that was my affirmation that you meant what you said.

I stood up to leave. "Alright then, friend."

"Okay, then, Dr. Kim." You put out your fist and I knew the drill. This was our fist bump of departure which, with your youth and your illness, seemed perfect.

I spun on my heel and started out of the room. Just as I reached for the light switch to turn it back off, you spoke once more. "Dr. Kim?"


"Do you mind stopping by to see about me? Or at least keeping tabs on me from the computer? That would make me feel a lot better."

I cocked my head sideways and let that request settle in. "You know what? You didn't even have to ask."

"I know," you said softly, "I know."

Happy Tuesday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . Thank you, Mr. Sample and Ms. Crawford for ministering to my soul this early Tuesday morning. Please listen to these fluttery, smoky vocals and spectacular piano accompaniment.


  1. You know, my BHE reads your blog. He's so impressed by your love and enthusiasm for medicine. and if your ears were ringing last night, it was because we were talking about you, and about what it must mean to have a doctor like you in one's corner. You rock, Dr. Kim. You sure do.

    1. OMG. I love that your BHE reads this crazy blog. I know that he's a real reader so the fact that any real reader comes here is a compliment. I love even more that I made it into conversation. What an honor!

  2. I could not have said it better, Angella! Dr. Kim ROCKS!!!! Keep being the wonderful person that you are to your patients and to those you love. God bless you!!

    Angela Fairwell

    1. Awwww! Thanks so much for these kind words, Angela!

  3. You are a fine human being, Dr. Kim, and you make such a difference in the world.
    Love, Coach B

  4. From the deck of the Poop,
    First of all, where do you find these great songs??? Secondly, I have a very dear friend that is going through something right now and a Dr like you would be a God send. But you are not here,


  5. I have determined to never come here without a box of tissue. You are awesome and I agree with Coach.

    1. I never mean to make you cry, Julie. But crying is welcomed here.

      *slides box of Kleenex in your direction*

  6. Ugh, I didn't want to be crying tonight, but you gone and done it again. I will keep saying it, the way you practice medicine is a ministry because you take care of the soul first and the body second. At least that is the way I read the way in which you care for your patients.

    1. You know what, Jill? I saw that patient today. I was following him in the computer and saw that he'd returned to the hospital. The expression on his face when I walked in almost made me cry. It feels so good to matter.

    2. I'm glad you are following him because I think sometimes in situations like this, knowing that someone in that hospital actually cares about you can mean the difference in outcome. Especially, if they don't have someone on the "outside" caring for them.

  7. It really is hard when you're terribly sick and have gotten attached to your physician. When the physician leaves, it's like being left in foster care.

    1. You know what, Nancy? I can see that. I really can. As the doctor you also get really attached. Like you get protective even. That's how I feel about this patient.

      Love the hair, mama!

      xo, Kimberly

  8. This made me cry. You are awesome, just awesome. Like your dad, I wish you were here for my friend. Thank you for your prayers for her the other day. She's had more complications and my heart goes out to her. Having a dr like you in one's corner is so important to the healing process. Vital really. You should give yourself one huge pat on the back for your dedication to the things that are most important. S. Jo


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

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