It was Friday afternoon and the last patient of the clinic day had arrived. A new patient to me. While the medical assistant asked her screening questions (Do you smoke cigarettes? Do you have pain? Have you fallen recently?) and checked his vitals (blood pressure, heart rate, weight), I started to get to know him through his medical record. I began with the clinic referral to find out why he was in my clinic in the first place. Would I be figuring out why he had an electrolyte problem (like low potassium levels) or thousands of grams of protein in his urine (when normal is less than 30 milligrams)? Or would I find the usual, a case of irreversible kidney damage caused by high blood pressure and/or diabetes? The first line read: 70 year-old formerly incarcerated man with recent hospital admission for…
Julie* was 22 years old, but she looked like a frail frightened 13 year old curled up in the hospital bed. She spoke like a petulant one.
“I don’t want to be here! I want to go hang out with my friends!” she yelled when I asked her what she wanted for her care. I was in her hospital room as a representative from the Ethics Committee, my goal to help relieve the conflict between her and the team of doctors trying to take care of her.
Alexandra Garcia was just 20 years old when came to me from the pediatrics nephrology clinic with urine that contained blood I could see only with the help of a microscope and nearly a gram of protein when normal is less than 150 milligrams.
“I appreciate your time and your concern, Doctor, but I have a strong faith in God and I believe He will see me through this.” This is what Maru Johnson said as I attempted to persuade him to follow the cardiologist’s recommendation to have coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG or ‘cabbage’). Just a few days prior he had a major heart attack that landed him in the ICU.