Practicing from the Heart in the age of Technology - All articles and poems are by Reza Ghadimi, unless otherwise noted.
I was working at a clinic in a resort ski town, when late one afternoon, a seemingly middle-aged lady of obvious affluence presented with a wrist injury. She wore an elegant fur coat over her ski outfit. On her fingers, she displayed several rings adorned with diamonds and jewelry. The kind I’ve never seen before.
Her wrist was slightly swollen. We got the rings off her fingers. I was worried about osteoporosis, yet X-rays did not reveal any bony injury. However, they surprised me, as they showed the hand of a young person. Her date of birth indicated that she was 27 years old. I was taken aback, as the lady in front of me seemed older. Her face showed age or an arduous life. No other medical disorders were mentioned, and she was not on any medication. Still, I asked if she took any medication – legal or not? No was her answer.
I placed her in a wrist brace and prescribed NSAIDs. She asked if she could wait for her husband to pick her up. She seemed uncomfortable, so I had her wait in my office and offered her a beverage, which she took heartily. Her husband never showed up and when we were done for the day, I offered to take her to her hotel. Her husband was waiting for her in the lobby and claimed that he had not received the message about her being injured. He, too, was well-dressed with expensive jewelry adorning his wrists and fingers. He was an elderly gentleman, perhaps in his seventies. I declined the offer of a drink, and after a brief pleasant conversation, I bid them goodnight and left.
A couple of weeks later, we received a very expensive radio with emergency weather bands and a card, thanking us for the good care she received and for the “true concern Karen (our nurse) and I showed caring for her!” – her words.
Such moments and experiences are normal and common in the practice of medicine. It is what makes our interaction with our patients personal and our work exciting. But many of our colleagues miss it. Rushing from exam room to exam room, treating symptoms and ailments, makes for a tiring and thankless day. At night, all one remembers are sickness, injuries, excrement, and pain. Often, no faces can be recalled of the suffering. BUT if we stop at the exam room door for just a brief moment and consider that at the other side is a person with a lifetime of experience being a human and now has a medical problem, and THEN enter and treat that person, we find our work ever so more rewarding and indeed magical. Appreciate your patients and make them like you! Patients who like you won’t sue you!