The hospitalist
Tuesday March 11th 2008, 1:47 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

Flowering plum in spring, ready to open upSid Schwab over at and his fellow doctors are talking about hospitalists and the changing roles of surgeons in the healthcare field.

I had never heard of hospitalists until the first one visited me at Stanford, five years ago. I saw several: the first one was warm and kind, but one was a young guy who refused to make eye contact with me; he simply mumbled a few things and beat it as fast as he could, leaving me feeling like he couldn’t wait to ditch the scene–I was an interruption and a bother and definitely not his patient. If this was what hospitalists were, I was upset at my own family practitioner for not showing up when I needed the comfort of her presence.

But the first hospitalist, Dr. C, made up for it. He came back. He saw me when I was too ill to sit up in bed for more than a minute or two, and again when I was doing somewhat better as the then-experimental Remicade gradually kicked in. He also happened to show up at a moment when I was trying to walk across the room and he was shocked to see how far gone my muscles were from the prolonged Crohn’s flare. He was determined to help me turn that around.

My older son, home from college, needed a doctor appointment about six weeks later, but had outgrown the pediatric department at our clinic and hadn’t yet picked out another doctor to go to; how do you know, when you don’t know them… He did know he wanted a male doctor and that my family practitioner therefore wasn’t going to do it for him. His dad’s doctor’s practice was full.

So they simply assigned him to whoever had an opening. The kid got off the phone and told me who it was, and I exclaimed, “REALLY! Can I come with you?” So the guy *did* have some regular patients as well as his hospitalist practice! I promised the kid I’d sit in the waiting room with my knitting, if only he would let me come in with him for the first minute or so.

a bit of laceknitting–Jaggerspun ZephyrDr. C. opened the door and there was a moment of utter confusion in his face: the first thing he saw was a gray-haired woman sitting just inside the door knitting away on some lace, not the 19-year-old man his schedule had said. (He had not seen me as a knitter before; I’d been too ill to hold the needles.) And then it hit him: “It’s YOU!” Hair neatly combed and in place rather than askew, nicely dressed rather than in a hospital gown, doing just fine now, thanks–“LOOK at you!!!” He about danced on the spot, he was so excited. He just couldn’t get over it. Wow!!

I got a chance to tell him thank you for taking good care of me. Then I left the examining room and let him take care of my kid, who needed a physical, nothing exciting there.

And then to my surprise, he came out with my son when they were done and exclaimed over me some more; he needed to express again how very glad and very relieved he was to see me looking so well. Again, he exclaimed in delight, “LOOK at you!!” I noticed that even the receptionist was beaming; he was thrilled, and it was contagious.

Yeah, hospitalists are okay.

Me, my reaction to all that, was, I went home, picked up some laceweight merino, and knitted a thank you scarf for his wife. Wedding-ring fine, meaning you could pull it through a ring when I was done. Nothing less would do. And later, a handspun, super soft hat for their baby who arrived not too long after.

9 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Your stories make me smile. I’m not sure you’ll ever know how uplifting your thoughtful gifts are to the lucky recipients…I know this brightens your day too but…I’m touched at the countless days you’ve brightened for others…bless you!

Comment by Abby 03.11.08 @ 3:29 pm

This is a wonderful story! I’m sure your gifts appropriately conveyed your gratefulness…cool. 🙂

Comment by Toni 03.11.08 @ 4:22 pm

As always your stories are wonderful, and I can imagine the scarf and baby gift were beautiful, you have such a generous heart!

Comment by grace 03.11.08 @ 6:47 pm

You are so generous and kind. Your stories are so uplifting to me. My family practice doctor has started using hospitalists and I haven’t had to see what they are like, yet, thank goodness. You have put me a bit at ease about them. Thank you so much for being you and sharing your self with us.

Comment by Tracy J 03.12.08 @ 12:20 am

I second the uplifting comments above. Your blog is a must read for me everyday. Esp when I’m having a bad day, Your stories remind me that there is some good in the world. For that my friend I thank you!

Comment by Danielle from SW MO 03.12.08 @ 5:36 am

Here, here! You are indeed a master storyteller with a tremendous dose of humanism we all so desperately need. What a lovely scarf too.

Comment by Channon 03.12.08 @ 7:53 am

I so look forward to your column every day. As a casemanager for people with brain injuries, I have referred people to read your blog for the positive nature of your own illness. Many are not able to read it but family members benefit from it. They don’t knit (I do) but still get so much out of your stories. Thank you so much for such inspirational writing.

Comment by Melanie Z 03.12.08 @ 10:52 am

My best friend is a hospitalist. It is a hard job–really erratic hours, a constant array of changing colleagues, patients, and issues. Yet, I feel like she does some crucial doctoring there. She’s very bright, and this allows critical thinking to take place where it’s needed most with the very ill. That said, I wish double wish that all hospitalists could have that follow up experience that yours had with you as the patient. It’s rare that they see what their charges look like “all better.” That joy would balance out the numerous sad cases my best friend sees. I will mention your blog entry to her. Thanks!

Comment by Joanne 03.12.08 @ 11:12 am

a wonderful testament to hospitalists. As I nurse, I appreciate them. They are consistent and make our lives good at work.

Comment by kathy b 03.14.08 @ 2:44 pm

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>