Tuesday, September 4, 2012

When Bayed To Come

She didn't know me.  She didn't even know my name.  Yet the stethoscope and gray coat somehow crashed through her tangled demented brain alerting her that I was a physician.  She sat enthroned in a wheel chair across from the charting station at the nursing home.  Her clothes were spattered with dried food, remnants of a half eaten breakfast. Like Medusa, her eyes shot daggers, petrifying me.

She waited anxiously for the nurse to leave the station before spewing her venom

Doctor!  Doctor!  Why don't you help me?

I looked at my watch.  It was only a few minutes before my clinic across town would be starting.  I had already entertained her complaints a number of times.  I had put down my chart, stooped next to her patiently while she harangued me with a series of questions having nothing to do with medical care.  She wanted to know where her daughter was.  She wanted to know who had stolen her car (she hadn't driven in decades).  She wanted to know why I hadn't visited her more often (she was not even my patient!).

Each time I explained slowly and quietly.  Each time she sighed and looked at me blankly.  But the moment I restarted my charting, she was at it again.

Doctor!  Doctor!

Eventually I turned and left, despite her shrieks following me into the elevator.  As the doors closed I felt an overwhelming sense of relief.


People often tell me that their doctors don't listen to them.  They say that they beg for attention and are ignored.

Yet I find that hard to believe.  Even the haggard, confused cries of a floridly demented octogenarian are enough to rip my heart out of my chest.

How does one not respond when bayed to come?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think that is the difference between a family type physician and one who works someplace like Cleveland Clinic. When you go to these big gun hospitals its very cold and distant compared to going to a Doctor who you have known. Cattle is the word that comes to mind as in many departments of a facility like CCF you are literally referred to by your clinic number rather than your name...When you go to these places you better be only looking for treatment and hopefully cure. If you want bedside manner then wait until you get home and back with your private physician.

I also imagine that works both ways. Those Doctors see many many patients and deal with such terrible and many times terminal illnesses they couldn't possibly be any way other than cold and distant.