Monday, April 04, 2005

Cool post, on its way to being a cool series:

You should never miss a post by The Cheerful Oncologist. As an ER doc, I encourage you, specifically, to read this one:
With time even the most timid oncologists will learn how to master the hospital routine and put a little spark in their step as they go about their rounds. There is one special place, however, that can unnerve even the most jaded practitioners - a place of unspeakable tension, where green-skinned zombies strain at the leather straps that bind them, where blood and vomit, sheets, tubes and rubber gloves amass into a tornado that sucks up nurses, doctors, even little old ladies in pink volunteer jackets into a writhing, screaming mass of chaos.

Goodness gracious - am I hallucinating? Is this a dagger which I see before me?

Of course not - I'm just describing the friendly confines of the elite suite where the injured meet - the emergency room.
This post reminded me of some thoughts I have had as I treat patients in the ER. We, the denizens of that "place of unspeakable tension," that "writhing, screaming mass of chaos" take where we work for granted, just like the guy who changes my oil at the shop. We don't see the place as a "mass of chaos," but can see the order where there seems to be none.

I frequently find myself trying to imagine what it must seem like to the unitiated. Geez, if a physician colleague sees it like this, what must it seem like to the patients? I find myself more able to calm down, slow down, sit down and just talk and be a person when I am with my patients if I can imagine the sense of unreality they must be experiencing.

I take it for granted that I can punch in a code to open a locked door, go wherever I want, get a cup of coffee from the radio room, read the board and come and go as I please. I try to remember that it isn't like this for the patients and their families.

I have found myself, lately, explaining more than just the medical issues to these people. I now explain the procedural (read administrative) elements of their trip through the emergency center. I have always recognized my responsibility and duty to explain the medical issues, but have only relatively recently understood the need to cover these other issues.

And you know what? I enjoy myself a hell of a lot more now. These are real people, confused, hurting, and in need. What a joy to be able to meet those needs; medical, psychological and just curious.

BTW, Dr. Hildreth, the worst acronym is WADAO syndrome: Weak And Dizzy All Over!