Agraphia Medical Tragicomedy


So I interviewed my first "official" patient today.

The guy was in the hospital for multiple myeloma (bone cancer, though he said he refuses to call it that. When friends ask, he says he has a "bone disease"), and had never before in his life been sick. No chicken pox, no broken bones... none of the normal stuff that people living life do. Now he's all of a sudden been brought to his heels by this disease that's probably terminal, and he just has no idea how to deal with it. He's been through chemo, might have to stop working for the rest of his life- I mean, really difficult stuff.

The worst part? My partner and I only had 40 minutes to interview him, and he was totally doped up on Morphine and Dilaudid so it took forever... and I started to feel the time pressure that everyone is always talking about. We had a specific job to do- to get his current and past medical history. Unfortunately, we kept having to steer him back towards the stuff that we were interested in hearing, because he meandered constantly.

I mean, he had all these crazy cool stories, like how he got dragged by a mule towards an outcropping of rocks and almost died, and how he works at the local desert museum... but we weren't there to hear that. It really killed me to nod politely and then say "that's very interesting, sir, but if you wouldn't mind telling me more about your myeloma..."

I don't think I'm a bad person, you know, but I can tell that its going to take a lot of effort on my part to not simply shunt someone through the system. When it's 4:30 in the morning and all I want to do is go home, it's going to be really difficult to stay human and treat patients like the people they are. Hopefully recognizing that it's a potential problem is the first step towards overcoming it.

I'm a bit scared to be saying that.

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