It has been an absolutely perfect weekend here, which of course means that I have been on home call and working on a presentation that I have to give on Wednesday. (Grumble, grumble) To make sure that I didn't completely miss out on the beautiful weather, I made plans to take a break from work this morning to meet my Mom for breakfast and a walk through the largest park in my city. Unfortunately, while I was showering in preparation for my outing, my pager went off.
"Hi, this is (Surgery Resident who is surprisingly cheerful despite working at least twice as hard as a Hepatology Fellow). We just admitted (Very Medically Complicated Liver Patient), who is going for emergency surgery today. We need you to come see him."
After phoning my Mom and telling her to delay our plans, my empty belly and I drove to the hospital, staring glumly out the windows at all of the happy people frolicking in the sunny, 25 C weather. Arriving at the hospital, I went into my best doctor mode, pretending that there was nowhere in the world that I would rather be on a beautiful day than inside a dimly lit hospital ward that smelled of harsh disinfectant mixed with bodily fluids.
When I walked into the patient's room, prepared to re-introduce myself with my standard line of "You may not remember me, but I'm Doctor Solitary Diner", I was met unexpectedly by the most enthusiastic of greetings.
"Solitary! So good to see you!"
What followed was part medical interview, part in-depth discussion about our respective plans for an upcoming music festival. Despite not having seen the patient in a number of months, he remembered that I was planning to attend the same music festival as him, and he was eager to confirm that I'd purchased my advance tickets. (I'm actually volunteering at the festival, so it's free!)
It seems like such a small thing, but this brief interaction was a major bright spot in an otherwise tiring weekend. It was so nice to feel like I'm not just another random face in a patient's medical team, but that I'm seen as a real human being with my own interests outside of medicine. And it was important for me to be reminded that the patients for whom I care are distinct people with lives outside of the hospital, not just a collection of lab reports and physical exam findings. This is why I do what I do.
Not bad for an early Sunday morning page.