July 15, 2018

Andy when he first started in Geriatrics back in the early 90s

Well, the first routine weekend is over and done with. Was it productive? A little. I completed the majority of my CME for the year. One more course to go which I should finish this coming week, then I’m good until sometime in 2019. What I’ve noticed is that I can’t read those board style questions and make sense of them with my aging brain the way I was able to a few years ago. I have to get through one more of those exams in my life, my geriatrics boards recertification in 2024 (when I will be 62) and then that is it and I refuse to do more after that point.

What else did I manage to do? I wrote this week’s MNM column (which will be out midweek sometime). I went to a work related social event. And I went and saw two of my favorite actresses, Holly Dikeman and Carole Armistead in the play Well at Birmingham Festival Theater. I haven’t been on that stage for some years so maybe that should happen this season. They’re doing The Good Doctor this fall and that has parts for which I would be appropriate casting so I should get off my butt and audition. Going to have to brush off a monologue or two. And, I spent this morning at church teaching Sunday School – I’ve got upper elementary this year. I also got my laundry done so, all in all, not a bad weekend.

It still feels empty and slow paced without Tommy and his multiple jobs and projects. He had so much to do, far more than most human beings can handle, and it was my job to handle the overflow. I can’t say I’ll miss being pressed into service rolling wigs at one in the morning, but I do miss the hum of activity and the hours of busy companionship. I even miss being told that I’m doing it wrong.

The play, Well, is by Lisa Kron who wrote Fun Home and has a lot to say about health, illness, how that affects the body, family relations and communities at large. I nearly lost it when they got to the Chaka Khan scene (see my last story) but much of what was being discussed is what I deal with professionally on a routine basis.

Tonight’s story is one of healthcare. I don’t talk a lot about my job in this forum for HIPPAA and other reasons but this is from years ago with no identifying information so I’ll go ahead and do it. Most of you know that house calls have been a huge part of my career. I’ve been doing them since 1991, when I first figured out their usefulness in community based geriatrics. This particular house call, from some years ago, was a routine visit to a family of limited function and socio-economic means where daddy, who had severe dementia, was the patient, and mama had severe untreated schizophrenia. We arrived one morning to check up on daddy as he had repeatedly been in the emergency department with burned feet. What we discovered was mama would roll him right up to the space gas heater to keep his feet warm, then forget he was there. His dementia and his diabetic neuropathy kept him from recognizing that his toes were getting a little too toasty and burns would result. I and my nurse showed up, pulled his feet from the fire (literally) and went in search for mama. We found her in the kitchen of their filthy and decrepit house (we took bets as to whether someone on the care team would put their foot through the floor on any given visit) frying up a mess of something on the stove. She opened a cupboard to pull out some seasoning and the largest roach I have ever seen came flying out and landed in the midst of the pan. Without missing a beat, mama picked up the can of Raid and sprayed the roach, the food, and the open flame of the gas stove. I looked for a handy window out of which to dive in case the house went up but luck was with us and no explosion was forthcoming. Mama then looked at us and said with a grin, ‘Y’all want some?’. We politely refused. The visit ended with daddy peeing all over me as I did my physical exam.

No one ever said medicine was a glamorous profession. Now I’m going back to Season 2 of Queer Eye on Netflix.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s