Up all Night

       Years ago I was up all night taking care of an elderly patient.  This was before we had full time cardiology consultation in town, much less hospitalists, so if you wanted it done, you did it yourself. 

        My patient was 81 years young, and had an inferior M.I. (heart attack in the bottom part of the heart.)  Of course, there are no good heart attacks, but as far as they go inferiors tend to do reasonably well most of the time.  Everything seemed to be going along O.K. till around midnight, when she had a burst of V. tach and a cardiac arrest.

        It was a long night.  After several more defibrillations, it was good to see the sun rise.  I was more than happy to call in reinforcements, and sent her down the road to Sandhills U.  Back then they did not do much high tech intervention in a cardiac patient that age, and they treated her about the same as we would have at home.  As it turned out the stay was uneventful, but it was still good to get second opinion.  In a few days she was safe to go home. 

        When the rescue squad boys took her out the door to go to Sandhills she said, “Tommy, I sure hated to keep you up all night, please apologize to your sweet wife for me.”

        “No problem, ma’am.  She’s given me permission to stay out all night with all the women I want to as long as they are older than 80.”  (Now that I am older, I suspect my wife would change her mind, the age limit, or both.)

          We teased about it for years, and I would tell her the two of us just couldn’t go out at night any more.  She was too wild; we’d have to meet at the office during daylight hours. 

        She was a sweetheart, and I’m proud to say she lived another dozen years.  She did quite well until her last eighteen months when age and heart failure finally caught up with her.

        I thought of her today when I saw her son for a physical.  There is a special bond in those all night-ers, and I’m still tight with the whole family.  Insurance chart guys, and sometimes young docs, often do not understand how we know so much about our people.  It’s ’cause we don’t have to ask the family history- we were there!

Dr. B

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10 Comments on “Up all Night”

  1. mrschili Says:

    This is a big part of what makes my marriage so precious to me. Mr. Chili and I have a half a lifetime’s worth of shared memories and experiences. We know each others reference points, we understand each other’s jokes, we have a common vocabulary. Volumes can be said in a glance.

    That kind of love is EARNED, and whether it’s love between a husband and wife (or, to be inclusive, any life partners), a parent and a child, a doctor and a patient or a teacher and a student, it’s something to always be treasured.

  2. pandemonic Says:

    There aren’t many doctors like you in the big city, and I surely wish there were. It would eliminate having to retell my life history every time I go in for something.

  3. drtombibey Says:

    mrschili,

    I agree except for one thing. You and mrchili are only 25% the way along ’cause y’all is young’uns. Dr. B

  4. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Pande,

    The history is a lot huh? We have hospitalists these days, but still do courtesy visits a couple times a week. The hospitalists have learned all they have to do is call and old Doc B can go on indefinitely.

    It goes about like this: “Oh yeah, I remember when she had her first M.I. in 1988. I was home listening to the Country Gentlemen- “Bringing Mary Home” was the tune to be exact. About the time we got her in the unit she had a new murmur and son of a gun it was a papillary muscle done gone bad and we shipped her to Sandhills, and…”

    And so it goes.

    Dr. B

  5. sshay Says:

    We had a great old doctor in my hometown when I was growing up. No matter what happened, he was there to take care of us. If we got sick on a weekend, instead of sending us to the ER, he’d have us come to his house so he could take care of us or send us on to a specialist.
    He’s the guy I took my little brother to when he needed stitches in his chin and Mom wasn’t home. He caught me when I passed out from watching my little brother get stitches in his chin. (I think little bro got stitches there 3 different times.)
    When Doc died, our entire town went into mourning.
    I often wonder if doctors know just how appreciated they are. Sounds like you do.
    Susan

  6. sshay Says:

    Hey,
    Come play SIX WORD MEMOIR. Check out my blog today to find out the details.
    Susan

  7. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Susan,

    When I was a little boy I’d go on house calls with my Dad. We’d go to the Fair and when the little kids would come up and hug his pants leg and thank him I thought it was the coolest thing in the world.

    In spite of all the modern pressures it is still great stuff. I still live for the folks who come up and speak to me at the Fair. It makes me feel like, even though I wasn’t rich or famous, that I made a difference in my little corner of the world. I guess some things never change.

    Here’s my six word memoir: “World’s first physician bluegrass fiction writer.”

    (Only thing I really write about the truth, just encoded so folks can have their privacy.)

    Dr. B

  8. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Susan,

    When I was a little boy I’d go on house calls with my Dad. We’d go to the Fair and when the little kids would come up and hug his pants leg and thank him I thought it was the coolest thing in the world.

    In spite of all the modern pressures it is still great stuff. I still live for the folks who come up and speak to me at the Fair. It makes me feel like, even though I wasn’t rich or famous, that I made a difference in my little corner of the world. I guess some things never change.

    Here’s my six word memoir: “World’s first physician bluegrass fiction writer.” Will check in re:details.

    (Only thing I really write about the truth, just encoded so folks can have their privacy.)

    Dr. B

  9. sshay Says:

    Okay, I have to tell you another story. (Sorry. It’s what writers do.)
    A few years ago my current doctor told me he and his new wife were going on a cruise.
    I didn’t think much about it until I was at the airport with a couple of other writers, waiting for our speaker to come in on a flight. Guess who got off that flight? My doc!
    I’d never met his wife, but being the shy thing I am, I stepped right in front of them and said, “Welcome home!”
    Doc looked really funny. “What are you doing here?”
    “I came to welcome y’all home.”
    He glanced at his wife, then said, “This is Susan, the writer I’ve been telling you about.”
    She was really nice, but after we shook hands he said, “What are you REALLY doing here?”

  10. drtombibey Says:

    Ms Susan,

    I also am the type to walk into situations on a regular basis! Dr. B


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