March 25, 2013

little white lies

"Are you good at this?" the words came floating up from the hospital bed as the patient was lying flat on his back, talking mostly to the ceiling. His daughter seemed uncomfortable and excused herself.

"The best," I replied calmly. Truth be known I'd never take a central catheter out of a human but I figured if I could put a catheter into something as small as a mouse, how hard could it be to take one out of a human being? I didn't feel bad about telling the fib. The patient needed assurance that everything was going to be ok, at least at this moment. The uncertainties of the diagnosis still loomed large over him. The catheter came out just fine and I held pressure on the now open hole in one of his major veins for a goodly while to ensure said hole closed, especially as he'd been receiving a good dose of heparin. During that ten or fifteen minutes we chatted about life, mostly his and I was happy to listen to him recount his story. Every patient has a tale to tell, most of them interesting and it's one of the big draws of my wanting to become a family doc.

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