Wednesday, October 20, 2004

A Fart in the Wind

Throughout this month Attending Giant has mostly taught us about common sense. I have found it somewhat frustrating that in the way of actual medicine he is not as well informed as I would like and that I find myself making very difficult clinical decisions on my own. Possible that at this age he has found that his greatest contribution would be just plain old common sense and a fifty year retrospective on the experience of caring for people. I have been amazed by his ability to connect with patients. He speaks their vernacular instantaneously and seems to have dealt with each particular patient for years.
Lately, you must have noticed that I have hit some rough patches. I continue to question the work I do and the reasons that I chose to do it. Did I really need to work this hard? Did I really need this level of stress and responsibility? Finally, what is there in all of this for me? As if he could hear the thoughts that cross my mind, today Attending Giant told us a story, he was speaking to me directly and I knew it.
It was about an old patient of his. The patient had passed three years ago but to this day Giant remembers the funny times they had together. His face lit up when he talked about him and he began to laugh to himself and tears almost swelled in his eyes. He told us this patient was a very funny man and that each time he saw him they would lock themselves in the exam room and laugh for an hour, exchanging dirty jokes. Days before the patient died he visited Giant at the office. He talked about how badly he felt. “I feel like a fart in the wind” were his exact words. When Giant told this to us he couldn’t stop laughing. He felt it epitomized his friend. Giant paid for his funeral and even wrote a eulogy for a prominent newspaper in the area, titled appropriately “Fart in the Wind”.
Attending asked me today to think about the definition of the word “Doctoring”. This was before he told me this story. I am happy to say that, although I can’t possibly put it into words, I know exactly what it means now.