From the Buckeye Surgeon archive, original post date 12/13/09
There’s this old guy with dementia/chf etc who came in with SOB and a dislodged gastrostomy tube. He isn’t one of those quiet/gorked-out type of demented guys either. You walk in his room and he starts rambling incessantly. “Doctor, let me ask you a question…” and then he trails off, mumbles or else “Doctor, dont leave, I have to know something….” whenever I try to leave, but he never completes a thought. He never actually asks me anything. It’s annoying I’ll admit. I don’t usually spend a lot of time in his room. I just want to get in, get out, make sure the new tube is working properly and sign off the case as soon as I can. Well the last day I went in and his wife was there. She’s this small, frail, soft-voiced old lady who sat quietly in the corner in the shadows when I was examining him. I didn’t notice her at first. As I pulled up his covers and made to leave, he started his usual demented rambling. “Doctor I have to ask you..” And his little wife shot up out of the chair in a flash and was holding his hand saying Joe, Joe what is it you want to ask the doctor and his eyes looked scared and she said I’m here Joe I’m here Joe just tell me what you want to ask the doctor. And then he went silent. He just stared at her. He looked terrified and lost. And then she started crying I know Joe it’s ok it’s ok Joe and kept holding his hand and she looked at me and I felt like the biggest asshole for wanting to rush through things and sign off the case. I’m sorry I said, hoping she would understand everything I meant by that and I stood there and rubbed his damn shoulder or something like that for a while and then I left….
OnSurg thanks Dr Parks, Buckeye Surgeon author for permission to re-post from his blog.