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!