20 September 2008


We really are... many of us, at any rate. Here I am, complaining about my difficulties with starting a private practice, and yet... I am lucky. quite lucky, very lucky, I'd even venture. happy, healthy, with a tiny, but solid, family, a man who loves me, my cats (2), and a job... and both of my hands with all ten functional healthy fingers. That's it, really. Hands are so amazing, and so important. As a hand surgeon, you see it all. Most days, hands astound me, in surgery, in the office, on the street... and yet, sometimes, I just run on automatic. I think we all do, sometimes. Until it just hits you from time to time.

Yesterday, I saw a gentleman, mid-forties, completely candid recovering alcoholic, "I don't want to drink, doc, but it hurts so bad sometimes. I know a drink would make it better. But I can't. I gotta do better for my new baby."

"How old is your baby?"

"A month and a half--my first. I guess there was a reason I had to wait this long, and my wife, she's so good to me... So, when can I go back to work, doc? Because my wife, she's on maternity leave, and there's no one else..."

You see, this guy has a terrible, I mean really awful, poorly diagnosed and mistreated open wound of the right index finger (yes, he's right handed). Weeping, purulent, probably osteomyelitic, ongoing for more than a year. Did I mention that he was my last patient yesterday evening? Oh, and he works in dietary... in a hospital... and desperately wants to return to work.

Amongst the malingerers and bad attitudes, I just felt so much grief for this man.

And yes, we are lucky.


Bongi said...

he's lucky to have you as his surgeon. you'll make a difference in not only his hand but his life as well.

rlbates said...

Bongi said what I was going to say. I think his luck changed when he got you as his doctor.