Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Yes, yes, y'all.

A life was saved. Yours. And I was there and involved and there to bear witness to it all.

Yes, I was.

No, it wasn't in that sexy or thrilling way. You know, like the kind where someone tears into the room and dives upon your chest for compressions in a single bound. It was nothing like the ones they recreate for melodramatic television dramas with people running beside fast-rolling gurneys steadying wayward IV poles and charging up defibrillator paddles at the same time.


But still. A life was saved. Yours. And I know it was because I was there and have been doing this for a while now.

Sometimes we miss it. Those moments like this one. The ones where just one tiny shift in the path does something game-changing. A teeny, tiny nudge toward a seemingly insignificant fork in the road that moves the patient inches away from a giant cliff. Or maybe not a cliff because those are big and obviously treacherous. This was different. More like a slow, downhill trainwreck.

Yes, that.

See, a student listened to you and then shared your story on rounds. Described what you said in detail and all that had been done. And the way he honored your truth helped me to make sense of your perspective but simultaneously recognize that some aspects of our direction didn't make sense at all. And so, I asked one question. Which led to another question. That became a discussion with the whole team.

"Why is this?" I asked. "This doesn't make sense to me. Does it make sense to y'all?" This is what I asked my team. And yes, I said "y'all" because I think easy and calm learning and working climates help us think easier and take better care of patients like you. Or not even just like you. Like any patient who comes before us. I do.

So that student wrinkled his nose and thought about it. And so did my resident and my interns, too. And, though I could not see myself, I am certain that I did the same. Because it didn't make sense. The path we were on and that you'd been on for months and months did not.


We came up with a plan. To bring in a consultant to look at some aspects of your case. The parts that weren't readily explainable by the standard pathophysiology of your working diagnosis. And that--that call? It was a game-changer. It was.

And, I think, it saved your life.

No, not in the fireworks and confetti way. Not like that old TV show "ER" or even the newer ones like "Grey's Anatomy." More like with the subtlety of shaking a tiny shard of glass out of a shoe that could ultimately lead to something bad or even adding a drop of much-needed oil to a bike chain and popping it back into place before the entire thing is irreparably destroyed.

Yeah. Like that.

And I thought about it the whole way home. I thought of you and the story you told and the student who listened and the socioeconomic challenges that you face. I reflected on the barriers all around your care that day and how God let this tiny ray of light slip in. And how all of it working together saved your life. I thought about that for my whole drive. Then the next day, I talked to my student about it and cried right in front of him.

I sure did.

"We don't always get it right," I said in our team room later, "but on some days, we do." And I wanted them to not miss what our team had done. They didn't.

A life was saved this week. Yours. And I was there and involved and there to bear witness to it all. A life just as worth saving as my own. Or any person involved in your care. I am so proud of the care our team gave to you and the privilege we had to be involved. Damn, I am. And no, we don't always get it right. But this time we did.

Yes, yes y'all.

Happy Tuesday.


  1. never gonna get tired from the posts you are publishing! Keep on rockin’!

  2. I just happened upon your blog and LOVE it! Thanks for capturing the beauty of our demanding jobs through your wonderful words. You and I write similarly and have the same goal--to keep compassion and empathy at the forefront of our care. Big thanks.


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