Happy Doctor’s Day 2014!

Happy Doctor's Day!

Happy Doctor’s Day!

Happy Doctor’s Day 2014

Someone should thank a doctor today…

March 30th is Doctor’s Day!  Why should we recognize our physicians?

First of all, I would like to recognize the long and arduous journey it takes to become a doctor.  They invest these years of their life to fulfill a dream that leaves them in deep debt for the opportunity of being able to work 60 -80 hours per week for the rest of their life?  What are they thinking?

In the KevinMD.com blog, it is more vividly proclaimed:

“To practice medicine, first, you have to go to medical school. That’s four years right there. Then, there’s residency, which adds anywhere between three and seven years to the deal. After that, there may be a fellowship, sometimes two fellowships, because really, at that point, what’s another year or two (or six)? So basically, from the moment you start into medical school to the moment you finish your training, you’re looking at a minimum of seven years—for most people its closer to ten—before you’re even close to being considered a “real” doctor.

And these are not fun, carefree years—certainly not the way most people spend their twenties, at least if the producers of MTV or beer advertisers are to be believed. You spend these fetal-doctor years indoors under fluorescent lighting, nose pressed into books filled with inscrutable diagrams and endless acronyms, while everyone in the world, including some of your patients, appears to be having more fun than you. These are years spent doing a whole lot of work for little or no money, ignominious tasks relegated to those contractually obligated to never complain. These are years of thousands of lost hours spent at the hospital instead of with your friends and family, who always seem to be wondering where you are and why you’re still there and when, if ever, you’ll be coming home. These are years spent defying all common sense about circadian rhythms and the regenerative powers of rest, largely awake and caffeinated to an almost toxic degree. And—this last part is the real kicker—these are years after which you will end up in hundreds and thousands of dollars of debt, all for the experience of what amounts to hard time in a well-intentioned Soviet gulag. I repeat: not fun.”

Someone should thank a doctor today…

I imagine how a physician’s life is so uniquely intertwined with the lives of so many other human beings, and in such personal ways and at such vulnerable times of life.  A neurosurgeon comes to mind – one that seemed to always remember the details and circumstances of a patient’s life and truly cared.  Whenever he passed the nurse in the hallway at the clinic, he would ask her how her husband was doing and truly meant it.  One day he said to the nurse: “I would really like to see John before I leave.  Is he home today?”  The neurosurgeon traveled to John’s home, sat with him, petted his dog, Dudley, as they chatted together, like old friends.  He spent about an hour with John… and it meant the world to him.

Someone should thank a doctor today…

I feel the love at the birth of a child, Joshua, after a long and difficult labor.  It is the result of hours and days and months of careful monitoring for the birth of a very special child.  I remember a doctor who cared.  I remember a doctor who took the time to listen.  I can only imagine the stress and careful considerations that went through the physician’s mind during those months of pregnancy.  I remember the physician viewing the ultrasound monitor, assessing biophysical profiles for fetal well-being, wanting to make the right decision in delivering this special child at the optimum time.

The mother, Laurie, was seen twice weekly for careful observation, as her baby was diagnosed with Prune-Belly syndrome.  Ultrasound images revealed a baby with a swollen abdomen filled with multiple cystic areas.  Little Joshua’s outcome was uncertain, but the physician gave Laurie hope.  Joshua was always Laurie’s little miracle of love as she had been diagnosed with infertility.  I can still feel her courage today and sense the strength of a mother’s love and the perseverance and extraordinary care of her physician.  Joshua was born by Cesarean section at 36 weeks gestation after several injections of betamethasone to help his lungs mature early.  He was whisked off for immediate surgery, by yet another extraordinary physician, to drain his kidneys and bladder.

I saw Joshua at Laurie’s 6 week postpartum visit with the doctor she felt a deep gratitude and love toward.  Laurie was beaming and little Joshua had dark curly hair and was beautiful in every way!

Someone should thank a doctor today…

I hear the words: “I am sorry but I must tell you…”  Doctors often have to say the words no one else wants to utter.  They are words that hurt too badly. They pierce deeply.  They are difficult to make sense of initially.  They are much like the words spoken in an inspirational and informative blog about a Minnesota native and heart transplant recipient.  It is called: Bob’s NewHeart .

“Just then a very distinguished gentleman walked in.  Dressed like a model from Gentleman’s Quarterly, he was relatively young but had white hair and spoke softly but firmly. “Mr. Aronson,” he said. “My name is Dr. Thomas Johnson and I’m a cardiologist.  You have a very serious heart problem.  It’s called cardiomyopathy which means your heart muscle is failing and you may need a heart transplant.”

“Boy,” I thought, “that’s laying it on the line.”  I felt as though I had just had a nuclear weapon detonated in my gut.  But strong men don’t show weakness in front of their family.  I noticed that my youngest daughter was crying and everyone else was silent.  “Ok, I said, if that’s what it takes let’s do it.”  I had a passing acquaintance with organ transplants but really had no idea how complex the process was or how difficult it was to get a heart, plus I had to put on a brave face for my family.”

Read more of Bob’s story and encounter after encounter with yet another doctor.

Someone should thank a doctor today…

I walk the halls of the clinic and hospital only to see the all too familiar face of physicians that were there this morning and this afternoon and still now late into the evening, worn with fatigue and deep in thought from their day.  Still a weak smile and a familiar “how are you” are heard, as we pass.

Someone should thank a doctor today…

I touch the hand of someone that needs to feel the nearness of another.  The doctor is near and calm and reassuring, wrapping them in a sense of hopefulness as he softly speaks and explains.  The doctor was with an African-American couple who were both graduate students at the University, older parents for the first time.  They had arrived for an amniocentesis for advanced maternal age.  The doctor discussed the situation concisely with his expertise and understanding.  He had discovered on her ultrasound that she had multiple large fibroids.  He explained how this increased the incidence of premature labor and the amniocentesis would only provoke the uterus to cramp more.

The doctor allowed the parents to view their baby on the ultrasound screen at length.  An outpouring of love transcended and filled the room as they observed their little one.  He was only at 16 weeks gestation, yet so photogenic, as the parents counted fingers and toes.  The physician and parents opted against amniocentesis.  It was only two weeks later that this little fellow came prematurely into the world and then died.

And it was this doctor that took the time and compassion with this couple as they asked:  “Why?”  It was this doctor that displayed that special bond and was forever woven into the pattern of their lives.

Someone should thank a doctor today…

I fear the emotions and grow weak of heart and the doctor remains strong.

This doctor is a pediatrician.  She is new to the area.  She just gave birth to her child three months earlier.  It is Christmas Eve.

During the night, a 3-month old infant was admitted to the ICU after presenting to the Emergency Department.  Weak and fragile, this “little guy” stared with a vague emptiness, meeting the pediatrician’s alert observing gaze.  He had vomited and aspirated his formula into his lungs.  His outcome “was written.”  This pediatrician was in charge of this infant, knowing full-well he was going to die, yet she wanted and needed to give him every chance possible.  The staff came together in the best possible scenario.  They gathered together around the family – the pediatrician, their family doctor, a neurologist, a priest, the nursing supervisor and the parents and grandparents.  Everyone was involved.  No one was alone.  The parents were a young couple, soon to be married. It was heart-wrenching, watching the pediatrician; she was envisioning her son and overwhelmed with sadness and grief.

While the baby was leaving this earth for heaven at Christmas time – everyone was surrounding the child (all except one nurse who was crying too uncontrollably and was in a room next door).  After he died, they removed all “his hardware”, put his ‘jammies’ on, wrapped him in his Christmas blanket and let the parents sit with him in a rocking chair.

One can only imagine all the thoughts, feelings, responsibility, loss of control, and heartbreak the pediatrician felt.

Then a few hours later, the doctor had to try to put it out of her mind, continue to work although desperately looking forward to going home and holding her own child close to her heart.

Unforgettable!  And this is just one of many stories a doctor could share.

Someone should thank a doctor today…

I honor and respect the early pioneers of cardiothoracic surgery, names like Dr. W. Dudley Johnson who was a part of St. Luke’s Hospital in Milwaukee, WI in the early 1970’s, when my father had his first coronary bypass surgery.  (I consider my father a courageous man and as much a pioneer of cardiovascular surgery as the surgeon who did his coronary bypass procedure.)  The heart patient often times did not survive as new techniques were being perfected.  This was a time where perseverance and endurance prevailed as mortality rates dropped with experience gained.

In the book “Open Heart: The Radical Surgeons who Revolutionized Medicine”, heart surgeon and author Dr.David Cooper succinctly captures the role of the cardiac surgeon:

“Making errors of judgment, facing death on the operating table and agonizing over whether you have performed a surgical procedure adequately can all be very painful forms of `hell’ to the surgeon. The lesson that heart surgeons quickly learn is, as Winston Churchill said, `If you are going through hell, keep going.’ Heart surgery is not a career for someone who lacks courage, persistence, and tenacity.”

Someone should thank a doctor today…

I applaud the physician who takes the time to say a small prayer with his patient before their surgery.  When this doctor would come to the pre-op area, he would always ask the patient if they would like to say a prayer with him before surgery.  (Yes, this doctor does exist.)  The first time the nurse heard this, she was taken aback and wondered what is he doing?  The nurse wondered how the patient would react.  The vast majority of patients did say “yes.”  The prayer was short, simple and personal, asking for guidance for the surgeon and the staff and a good outcome and recovery.  Patients were absolutely touched by this physician’s personal attachment to them through simple prayer.

Someone should thank a doctor today…

I am thankful for the doctors who religiously fight for all of us.  I am talking about the doctors who execute and implement the research and give us the sense of hope we so strongly need.  Through their studies, grants, fellowships, clinical data and scientific research, they strive to better understand acute and chronic health conditions.   These are the physicians that discover new and innovative treatments, improving the quality of life for all.

Someone should thank a doctor today…

Let me take you back a “few decades” to the time of small town family docs – the one’s that spanned several generations and decades of life.  The family doctor I am writing about is described as “a friend of my parent’s and a father of seven children – a true family man.”  “His gruff manner and deep voice could scare the ‘bejesus’ out of you, yet he was so special.”

His story parallels the small town doctors on “Little House on the Prairie.” This doctor would provide a “prescription” for a soda, ice cream or whatever could be obtained at the local drug store whenever it was time for a scheduled “shot.”  To top that off, this doctor would pick up the tab!  YUP!  He made “house calls” too.  Those days are long forgotten.  Yet this gentle and caring physician came to the house to get a child with a broken arm, at night, when the father was out-of-town.  The mother remained at home to care for her other 6 children.  This man of character and compassion for the human spirit even took some of the local kid’s fishing on his day off.  There was a time he allowed some of his patients to ‘dig up’ the yard in his clinic to plant a garden.  This doctor was a wise, kind and educated father-figure that stood as a role model with a mission to serve others with heart and soul.

Someone should thank a doctor today…

I celebrate the DOCTOR!  Physicians become physicians because they truly care about other human beings.  These are the individuals who come into our lives at critical and vulnerable times.  Paths cross in life for such a short time, but when they do, our doctors walk together with us, hand in hand.  They are a part of the miracle and sacredness of life and the restful slumber of death.  They open our hearts.  They make a difference.

Happy Doctor’s Day 2014!

Please share some of your stories about a doctor that had an impact on your life.

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7 Comments on “Happy Doctor’s Day 2014!

  1. We thank doctors for all they do for many people……THANK YOU, DOCTORS!!!!! Beautiful stories, Sharon……

    • Thank you Theresa. Let these stories stand as a small tribute to the outstanding individuals I have seen upfront serving those in need at a most vulnerable time of their lives. May they have a great Doctor’s Day 2014.

  2. Beautiful work again<Sharon! when you think of it we are all "doctors" in some kind of way. The native Americans initially called them "medewin man",(medicine)and African tribes have attributed healings to a type of "witch doctor". I like to think teachers are doctors of the brain AND encouragement. My wife Theresa is a doctor of the spirit,(in a BIG way). Kim is "interning" in celebrating these things-Becky is a MASTER and M.ED in her practices, and so on. Keep up the fantastic work and THANKS for all your hard years of being a master nurse. I am sure your doctors appreciated having you around!
    ronaldo

  3. Sharon – nicely done (as usual). You have such an awesome way with words….

    Physicians road through school is truly a long expensive journey. I do admire those that can maintain a sense of “truly caring” for each individual – not just the disease. I respect those that treat others with the respect and dignity they deserve regardless of their “status” in the work place/home/society etc and are willing to “listen” to another’s perspective.

    Aaahhhh, if only the “politics” of medicine could relax a bit in order to allow patients and their physicians to spend the amount of “time” together needed to forge a plan for their care. 5 minute slots are not enough! I do know of a physician that was chastised for “spending too much time with a patient”. Kudos for him!

    I agree with Ron. We are all “doctors” in one way or another. I have always treated patients and families the way that I would want my family or me to be treated. That does not often “sit well” with todays climate in medicine.

    I believe that we all should act/practice according to the hippocratic oath — First, do no harm. You do not need to go to medical school the learn that.

    So, to those who truly care and go the extra mile; I say – Thank You

    • Well said, Kris. I agree 100 percent. I have such a great admiration and respect for the physicians I have worked with over years. I have seen the physical and mental toll it has taken on them and their family as well. I think they are taken for granted and that many times we do not thank them for all they give us in terms of not only healing but also their caring. The healthcare environment has created a trying time in so many ways. I join you in your gratitude for doctors. Thanks, Kris. And thank you for your contribution in your personal nursing stories that are included in this post! Now get to work on your WORDS WITH FRIENDS! You are way behind!

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