Sunday, August 25, 2013


I've been feeling kinda sorry for myself lately, about some things that have happened and I haven't posted about it. But every now and then this job can reach out and slap you hard.

There are many kinds of patients. Some are truly wonderful people and you love to see them on the day's schedule. Many are a blank - you see them rarely and they seem pleasant enough. Others are, to be honest, a pain in the ass. Some are mean, some are noncompliant, some are argumentative, some are a lovely mix of all of that.

Being on call, I get to round on all hospital patients. My partner warned me about hers. Wildly noncompliant, and a medical train wreck. Great. Just what I wanted to start off my weekend. I get to the floor and swoop through the healthy multips who all delivered the night before and are doing great with no questions. I save problem child for last. I look through the computer and see her labs. I'm getting ready to go in and have the "Talk with Jesus" talk, as one of my attendings in residency would put it. AKA "Grow the fuck up and take some responsibility for yourself".

I get to problem child's room and she's improved. I start in on my "You got to take better care of yourself" speech when I notice that she's crying. 30 minutes later, after a long talk and a lot of hugs, I leave her room. I can't fix her problem...her social situation is a disaster at best. I'm recounting this to her nurse - I can treat her medically, but I can't help the web of bad choices and poor support that surrounds her.

I'm so lucky in that respect. Even though statistically, I should have been her, I'm not. The difference is even though we started out dirt-poor when my dad left, my mom made good choices. She went back to school with 2 toddlers in tow. Her mother babysat us frequently so that my mom could do that. Welfare (called ADC back in the day) was short-term (government cheese tastes like shit, let me tell you). My mother emphasized to her daughters that we needed to be able to care for ourselves - education was valued. I didn't have a baby as a teen (Mom would have killed me!). Many of my high school classmates did. I had family support to get through school. I married a nice guy who respects me and likes me.

Lots of little things. But each choice individually may not matter. But the net sum does.


Mary said...

Hmmmm....are you my long lost twin? There were three of us. Mom cried when she had to go on AFDC and apologized to us. No one prouder than Mom when I finished college. She completed her LPN a year later. Told me if I was her inspiration. I was humbled. God bless our moms.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow -you can always read behind the lines with the compassion you have, and now I realize a wee part of where it has come from - which will have so many times - even unbeknownst to you - made you a much better doctor. What a gift they don't know they are getting when they see you, helping those future generations in more ways than you will probably ever realize make smarter choices for their kids. Your words to them could be more inspiring and helpful than you'll ever know, and it won't be the stuff your profession requires you tell them, but those little gems you are probably unaware you even say. Lovely post. x

ER's Mom said...

Thank-you. That means a lot.

Mary Hood said...

My sister got pregnant at 19. My boyfriend wanted me to get married at 20. I loved him, but I loved myself more. Finished college, married a different guy. Have had a great life. My head lead my heart, and I am so glad. I wish more people would use their head. I did have the advantage of a two parent household, but we were far from rich.

Anonymous said...

My Mom didn't work when we were growing up. My Dad had 2 jobs and we got to see him on Saturday evening and Sunday.When I was a senior,I didn't know what to do after graduation. My Mom said "be a nurse. You'll always have a job and you won't have to depend on a man to take care of you." So I went to nursing school. And here I am 43 years later, I'm still a nurse. Education was always a big thing to my parents.