Saturday, November 17, 2007

Having a family member become a hospital patient really makes you think about your own practice. My physically active husband returned from a pre-op appointment for elective shoulder surgery with symptom-free "changes in my EKG" and was turfed to his cardiologist. Another EKG, an Echo, and next thing you know, he's headed for the cath lab. While on the table (and after finding a couple of significant occlusions) he now has a choice of the metal stent or the medicated stent. Choice A means ASA and Plavix for a few months. Choice B means ASA and Plavix for over a year, and by the way you can forget about that shoulder surgery. Since I happened to have a friend who worked in the cath lab, she drags me back to help my husband with this decision. This is a problem considering he is one takes 3 trips to the store to decide on a pair of jeans. I will say the interventionalist was VERY patient with him; decision made, medicated stent.

In the ICU, Jane, his nurse, seemed to understand my husband's "what the hell just happened here", deer-in-the-headlights look and promptly got him some Ativan. She patiently answered all of my husband's questions and got him settled in. She signed out to Leslie at change of shift, who handled my husband beautifully with the right mix of humor, authority and caring. My husband had some leaking around clip in the artery, so in comes the Resident Twins. This is an equal opportunity teaching hospital, so they neither speak English nor posess people skills. Oh, and they travel in pairs for added fun. I refused to leave until I made Leslie promise that she would turn my husband over to someone more than competent at change of shift, and keep Frick and Frack away from the patient.

I picked husband up at noon the following day and all was well. He is home now, testing me at every turn, angry that he can't have his surgery and not yet grasping that the ticking time bomb in his chest has been defused. A little perspective is useful.