A Physician's Story

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A Physician's Story

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stethoscope-448614_640About a month ago I was sitting in my doctor’s office. I have been going to him for over 20 years. So has my husband. When Mom came to live with us he became her physician also. He met her in the emergency room five days after she moved in with us. He had never laid eyes on her before that moment. I thought she was dying; I was a basket case.

Standing in the ER hallway, he let me cry on his shoulder and then proceeded to help my mother and I through the final four years of her life. That ER visit was in October 2010, mom was 90. She had just buried my father after many years of caregiving. Years that stressed her arthritic body beyond repair landing her in a nursing home herself for the six weeks prior to her coming to live at my house. Many stories come to mind from these last few years, I wanted to share a few, to let people know that there are physicians out there who practice their craft with love, compassion and faith. They somehow manage, in this fast paced electronic age to see and listen to the person sitting or lying across from them and make a difference in their life.

Here is a glimpse of what a doctor should be.

When she was well enough we went to his office. It is in a house in the next town over. A typical two story New England house nestled among trees right on Main Street. The first floor was remodeled to accommodate a front desk, waiting room, treatment room, exam room and office. It is unassuming and comfortable. Less than a month after that first ER visit, my mom, fresh out of rehab, asked him if she could take me on a cruise. Rather than putting up a roadblock, he asked if I was up for it and then told her to “go for it”. We delayed it by a month because of another health crisis, but with a great travel agent, we managed to get mom, oxygen, a wheelchair and myself on a 10-day cruise through the Panama Canal. Even though she was 90 and frail, he never took away hope, he always encouraged her to try.

The next summer Mom excitedly told him we were invited to my best friend’s wedding. He again gave her his blessing, and when she said she loved to dance, he was all smiles as she stood up and danced with him in the examining room. He made me promise she would dance at the wedding and she did, with the bride. I could barely keep the tears from my eyes.

What does compassion look like? Mom was hospitalized for severe stomach pain. As is his practice, he was seeing his hospitalized patients early in the morning. I wanted to be there to talk with him and she was writhing in pain when I arrived. When he saw her, he came to her bedside, sat beside her and cradled her in his arms, rocking and soothing her until the ordered pain medication started to work.

When taking her to his office became too painful a trip, he began making house calls. He told me he liked to see his older patients in their home environment. It helped him evaluate their needs.

During the last six months of her life a series of health challenges ended up leaving Mom bedbound, when he visited he always took a moment to talk about something other than her medical needs. He asked about my dad and encouraged her to tell him stories from her past, asked to see old photos and listened as she showed them to her. How interesting to see her show him the photos of her in nursing school in 1938, watching as she forget the pain and sorrow of her declining health.

As she approached the need for hospice, he quietly and calmly explained to both mom and I what to expect. Knowing my mother was a woman with great faith, he asked her if she would like to say the Lord’s Prayer at the end of each visit. He knew it would give her peace, and it always did. He always took a moment after the visit to sit with me, to see how I was doing, and to tell me the words I needed to hear.

When hospice was called and I was near panic at the enormous responsibility of keeping mom at home, this amazing physician sat with me in my living room and took the time to assure me he was there any time, day or night to answer my questions. He then took out his prescription pad and wrote what I kept on my refrigerator for the next 10 days:

  1. You can’t make any mistakes.

  2. You can say “no.”

  3. Common sense prevails.


With his guidance, the hospice staff and I were able to keep mom comfortable at home in her last days. When mom died I called the hospice nurse who came to confirm that mom had passed. It was their protocol to call the physician to get permission to officially pronounce death. After contacting our doctor, she hung up with a funny look on her face. She had never had this happen before, but I knew what he had said to her. In his last caring act for my mother, he came to our house to see her, to pronounce her dead and more importantly for me, to say goodbye to his patient.

The world needs more doctors like this. Maybe young as he is, he is old fashioned. Maybe there are more like him. I hope so. My mother’s quality of life would not have been as good as it was, if not for the care and compassion of this one fine man. For that I will be forever thankful.

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jan

So glad your family has experienced this. You said he was young but you'd been going to him for over 20 years, so he is no pup. I have a feeling what he has is special and unique to him as an individual, and not the result of current training. He is special anywhere, anytime, probably at any profession in addition to medicine.

Hussy

I'm speechless.

Mar

What an absolute treasure of a physician -- I was so comforted just reading about him. What it would mean to him to read what you have written!\r\n\r\nWe were graced to have a wonderful physician for my mother at her nursing facility -- she came 3 times a week, she stayed in touch with us and patiently answered our questions and made sure we were comforted as well. She gave us affirmation about admitting Mom to hospice, and said \"I will tell you what I would choose for my own mother.\" \r\n\r\nYou have reminded me of my thankfulness for her, and that I need to let her know.\r\n\r\nMar