Agraphia Medical Tragicomedy

7Feb/08Off

Doing Everything Right

I found this post lingering around in my drafts, originally written while I was on OB/GYN. I still remember this patient like I saw her yesterday... I hope she's doing well.

Today I saw a 65 year old woman who was referred to our clinic for an uncomfortable feeling of fullness after eating. She's a fitness nut - she's worked out at least once a day, every day, her whole life. Her family has a nasty history of coronary artery disease, so she took it into her own hands to stay healthy early on.

She eats better than anyone I've ever talked to - green, leafy veggies, nuts, fruits, the occasional grilled chicken. She looks fantastic - I'd peg her at 49, max, if I had to guess. She loves to run, gets up at 5 AM to savor the sunrise. Healthy, healthy, healthy. Huge smile, sparkling blue eyes, perfect teeth. Not a single prior illness listed in her chart.

Her CT scan revealed frank, corrosive, highly metastatic ovarian cancer.

3 of her equally beautiful daughters were in the room with her to receive the news. The four held hands and cried, heads bowed together in a circle of love and grief. One daughter, tears coursing down her face, hugged the doctor and thanked her for her compassion.

It was a beautiful moment, but this is no Hollywood movie. There will be no happy ending - but it's comforting to know that there will be so many people there for her, loving and supporting her to the end.

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  1. It makes you wonder what the causes for her case ARE, if there are ’causes’ at all.

  2. Whatever the outcome was/will be I have so much respect that you can see the humanity and grief in this moment. You will do much good for your patients if you will remember this every moment of your career.

  3. It makes you wonder what the causes for her case ARE.

    Not to be crass but, bad luck? Bad genes? Some combination of the two? It’s hard for some people to realize but a lot of the really bad stuff that happens to people isn’t actually their fault. We just try to pretend it is to make ourselves feel less vulnerable.

  4. “It makes you wonder what the causes for her case ARE.”

    How about *destiny*?


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