Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Alzheimer's Repeat

Doctor, doctor?

The elderly woman stands in front of the barrier that separates the dementia unit from the nursing station.  She accosts me repeatedly after our short conversation and exam.  I have ten charts piled in a stack on the desk in front of me.  Each time I try to concentrate the voice yanks me to attention. 

At first I am zealously accommodating.  I answer over and over again.  But eventually, even I become a victim of the Alzheimer's repeat.  No matter how many times I respond, she will be back again.  I turn my head to look for a nurse or CNA to distract so I can finish. 

The hallway is desolate leaving just me and the needy patient that I am ruthlessly ignoring.

Doctor, doctor?

The young secretary behind the counter jumps as I walk through the door.  My blue tooth is engaged, and I am finishing a conversation with a floor nurse when the call waiting goes off.  My first patient is already in a room.  I need at least ten minutes to take off my coat and hat, and boot the EMR. 

She has some urgent issue or another.  A question about an overbook or perhaps a patient waiting for a script.  Overwhelmed by too much input, I wave my hand in a nonsensical gesture that only a mind reader could interpret.

She races out from behind the desk to follow me to the office.  My pager starts to buzz as I hang up the phone and slip the blue tooth off my ear.  She pushes a tablet computer towards me and mumbles something about signing for drug samples.  The rep has been waiting for a half an hour.

Doctor, doctor?

My head is so buried into the computer that I almost don't hear the pleas coming from the exam table.  The damn eprescribe function is on the blink again, and the whole thing is frozen.  I look up and lock eyes with the agitated patient who is clearly more concerned with his abdominal pain than whether I meet meaningful use or not. 

I ditch the computer, sit back in my chair, and take a deep breath.

F**k meaningful use!

Daddy, daddy?

I breeze through the door and drop my bag at the entrance. 

All day my attention is being fought for. 

I transfer the call on my mobile to voicemail, and look up with the warmest smile I can muster without faking it.

Yes honey?


Anonymous said...

It wasn't until I had grandchildren that I noticed I never gave enough time to my kids as they grew up. They are resilient, it was me that missed so much by working. Take your time with your kids, it will be the best time you will ever remember.

Nikola said...

Most grandparents feel the same way. I think that's why many tend to want to spend so much time with their grandchildren; to make up for time lost.