So there were little rumbly post-op things that had been bugging me for awhile.Â It had become time to at least ask and get them out of the way.Â I asked my doctor; he said go ask the surgeon.Â So I made an appointment without pushing on the date, just, whenever.
One of the often-wonderful things about a teaching hospital is this: someone came in first who introduced himself as Dr. X, but the title was a rather new pair of shoes still being broken in.Â He was very earnest. He began to take a history. (Didn’t matter if they had all my history already, this was a skill I imagine doctors spend their whole lives getting better at: how to ask a patient for details, how to observe them in their responses, what the questions should be.)
This guy was bright and he was good and I said to my daughter afterwards, I can see why he got into Stanford.Â I told him that since making the appointment two weeks earlier, the symptoms had eased; we chuckled together at that. It’s so often so true.Â I told him that you doctors cure things simply by being there for us and ready, and there you go!
He was someone I knew I could say that to.Â I say he was good, because I knew from the moment he walked in that it didn’t matter who I was, he wanted the very best outcome for me and he would do everything in his power to make it so.
And he was perfectly comfortable telling me when he didn’t know something (yet, I would add) when I asked him a stoma question.Â I thought, that ready humility will serve you and your future patients well.
He was thorough; for instance, he wanted to know how my hearing loss came to be.
I told him about the baby aspirin incident. I felt, by his interested *Huh*!, that I was bringing his textbook learning to life. And again, when I told him about the LE cells in my biopsies eleven years ago at the Crohn’s onset.
He asked me how long I’d had lupus.
I took a deep breath.Â So many stories behind a simple question.Â And told him simply this:Â I’d had symptoms since I was 13; I was diagnosed at 31. In between, there were a lot of “are you sure?” and it must be all in my head reactions, so, “I learned to shut up fast.”
He bowed his head a little and shook it, grieving, and said quietly, “Bad medicine.”
“They didn’t know,” I comforted him. And it’s true; it was much easier to diagnose when it all hit pretty much at once, rather than in bits and pieces scattered across the years.
The surgeon, whom I quite like, came in later, and it was interesting to me that the dynamic changed when I was in that gown now and the surgeon was standing as he talked to me.Â Which is how it had to be, no quibbles there.Â I didn’t want to waste his time.Â I figured that what he wanted to know, besides any questions he asked me directly–since I have seen him at his own question-asking best and know he’s good at it too–he’d just gotten from the other guy.Â I was keen not to make him late for his next patient sitting in the waiting room without even my pink-shawl knitting project for entertainment now (one elderly fellow had been quite taken with it), keen to deal with the most specific issues at hand and get them out of the way.
But I wondered afterwards whether I’d done that part as well as I might have or not. I don’t know. Could I have asked more questions? Oh, sure, always.Â But he did a good job of taking the time to examine and observe and set my mind at ease.
So what I do know is, I came out of there very reassured that no, the Crohn’s is not back, and I have nothing to worry about.
And that one young new doctor was keen to learn from what I, too, had to offer him in my small part of his Stanford experience.
Well done, sirs.
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