Gray, wrinkled shirt damp with sweat and a LCD screen pulsing with the green glow of vitals. One of them, his heart rate, blinking fast enough to think he had just come back from a light jog–except he hadn’t. Nope. This man was lounging in his bed looking at me stare at his IV line through which flowed the antibiotics that would help kill the bacteria resting comfortably in his lung.
After quickly scribbling [illegibly to my later dismay] the digits displayed on that black screen I turned my attention to him. We were at a crossroads you see. Through the past several months he had been admitted to the wards for pneumonia after downing the good stuff with a little too much gusto. Prior physicians had noted their heroic attempts at counseling and yet they had all failed equally. Would I be the one lone ranger in the night to succeed where others had failed?
Turns out I would not[he ended up back in the hospital again…] nevertheless it highlighted something I’m beginning to appreciate in my intern year. You have to treat the patient. All those drugs and chest x-rays don’t solve problematic behaviors. Asking patients why they do things never really elicits the kind of revelation I would hope to uncover either.
What’s missing in the care of patients in the hospital? Is the fast paced culture, zipping in and out of rooms stopping us from creating the relationships we need to actually make a difference in the long term? It feels like that sometimes but working on how to connect with people and helping them discover their own motivations for improving their lives is something I hope time will teach.