You don't want to be my friend


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July 23rd 2010
Published: July 23rd 2010
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This is probably the first of two posts, just to let you know. This one may be a bit more somber while the other one will probably be a collection of lessons. I finally got motivated to write today and I thought, you know, it really makes more sense to write monthly or bimonthly rather than daily or weekly because, honestly, everyday seems to be the same -- get up, go to the hospital, see patients, go home, go to sleep, repeat. It is only when I can step back and get the big picture that I realize what has just happened.

So I've had this thought for some time now, but am finally putting it into writing. If you are in the hospital, you really don't want to be my friend. I think I'm a nice person. I hope I'm a nice person. But if you become my friend in the hospital, then it means you're sick. It means you're really sick because you've been there a long time. See, each day I only have about 2 or 3 patients to visit on my own which means that I can spend just about as much time with them as I want. If you come in sick, get treated, and get better in a couple days, then we really won't make much of a connection. I'll get your history at the beginning, but then the follow up visits will be more like -- "Well, Mr. Jones, how do you feel? Much better, well you look much better. I think we can get you home today. See you later."

However, if you become my friend then it means I've spent a lot of time in your room. Take Mr. Magoo (I made up the name for confidentiality) for example. He came in pretty dang sick. Vomiting, not pooping, in some serious pain. We didn't really know what was going on. As we were trying to figure it all out, Mr. Magoo went a bit loopy. For a couple of days he didn't know who he was or where he was. His wife was faithfully by his side everyday through this all. The CliffNotes version of the story is that we eventually diagnosed Mr. Magoo with terminal cancer. We discharged Mr. Magoo home for hospice care. In other words, the cancer could not be cured and Mr. Magoo was going to die soon. I think it's fair to say that over their stay in the hospital, I became pretty good friends with Mr. Magoo (when he was coherent) and his wife.

You don't want to be my friend.

So that is where the story would have ended a couple weeks ago. However, it has an addendum. You still don't want to be my friend, but our friendship isn't necessarily a death sentence. Take Mrs. Robinson (again, not a real name). She came in completely all out of sorts. We thought she was paralyzed, we thought she was brain damaged, we thought she really only had days to live. She spent probably a week in the ICU, but eventually she came back to reality and could converse with our team. She still was bedridden and had some trouble speaking, but she was all there mentally. We moved her out of the ICU and thought she might be able to go home in a couple days. Unfortunately, she had a major complication which caused her to go back into the ICU. Basically, she was in the hospital about the entire time I was there and we became pretty good friends. There were numerous times when we thought she was going to die. She didn't, though, and, honestly, if she hadn't been in the hospital for that second problem, then she would have died at home. She's doing great now and should go home soon, and probably will regain full functional status.

I still don't think that you really want to be my friend.

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