Monday, December 12, 2011

Sign Of The Times

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't control Lisa's blood pressure. We experimented with countless combinations of medication with no luck. She was working on diet and exercise. I started to feel desperate. I imagined her confidence in my abilities was faltering although she hadn't said a word. Our weekly visits had been fruitless.

As she climbed up onto the exam table, I retrieved the blood pressure cuff from where it rested on the wall. I repeatedly squeezed the bulb until the meter read above 200. The cuff crackled on Lisa's arm. I released the air valve and became quiet. I held my breath in anticipation.

Please be lower. Be lower...

When the liquid past the 180 mark, the dreaded thumping pounded through my stethoscope. Lisa's blood pressure was no better.

I took the cuff off and settled back into my chair.

So tell me what's going on in your life?

Lisa stared blankly at the wall for a moment, and then a tear formed at the corner of her eye. I could barley hear her speak.

If debt was a cancer, my husband and I would have been ten feet under long ago.

As the words stumbled out of her mouth the image of her twelve year old twins flashed through my mind. I leaned over the desk and handed her a box of Kleenex. I had little in my bag of tricks to fix her situation.

We sat silently in the room for a few minutes. How much had changed with my patients over the last few years. The faltering of our countries financial health was being mirrored in the day to day ailments that crossed the threshold of my office doors. The illness was contagious.

I took out my prescription pad and started to write. Lisa glanced at me quizzically. She waited in anticipation for me to explain which new medication was being added.

Often the great difficulty of being a doctor is discovering what it is that each individual truly needs. Sometimes the answer is something that we as physicians are not trained to give.

Lisa read silently the scrawled glyphs on the paper that I handed to her. She looked up at me with confusion etched into her tear soaked face.

Whats this? She asked as she wiped her face with a tissue.

I waited until our eyes met.

It's the number of my accountant, he can do more for your blood pressure then I.

1 comment:

tracy said...

i love this!

What a kind, amazing person you are, Dr. Jordan!