Thursday, February 12, 2009


This morning we had a ninety year old woman who had newly diagnosed breast cancer. Rather than going through the risk of general anesthesia, we performed a lumpectomy under local anesthesia while she was wide awake, not getting so much as a drop of ativan. Immediately after, she went to the pharmacy to pick up some painkillers, then drove herself home (waiting until she got there to take anything, since one can't drive if taking narcotics). She didn't have anyone with her because she didn't tell her son and daughter she was having the surgery until last night so that they wouldn't be able to miss work for her. She takes care of her demented husband at home, so had to be back quickly.

Last night, one of my post-op patients, rather than waiting 5 minutes for the nurse to page me for more pain medication, called a rapid response from her room. What she thought it would accomplish I don't know, since it's composed of nurses who can't give narcotics without an order anyway. Then she called the operator and tried to bully her into calling my attending at home. Quite a contrast.


Blogger Dave Hayes said...

I'm always amazed at the grace, humility and simplicity of people like this elderly woman. They are one of the main reasons I've remained in medicine. I love them.

We see too many of the ungrateful, demanding sort; experience has taught me it does little good to dwell on them.

Thanks for your post, looking forward to more-


8:21 AM  

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