“Tom, come take a look at this,” the attending beckons excitedly. I get up from the charting station and walk over to his computer.
A CT scan fills his screen with a very large, obvious abnormality. “This is one of the biggest I have seen in my career,” he says. The patient had developed not only a large mass but a rare one, causing all sorts of systemic anomalies. Given the extent, it would be inoperable.
As we proceed to the patient’s room, the doctor explains the clinical presentation of mass effect on the body. His eyes are wide and flicker with a fiery excitement. He can barely control the rate of his words as he gushes about the various pieces of the unique clinical puzzle in front of him.
“Are you excited?” he asks after he finishes. I reply that it is “interesting,” much to his displeasure. “How could you not be excited? You might not see this ever again in your life.”
But all I could think about was how this mass, this zebra on a CT scan would soon bring our patient to their untimely death.
Within, I watched the attending as he spoke to the patient and their family about the situation. He explained things with such professionalism, clarity and assurance that I could see no better way it could have gone.
Yet it continued to disturb me, his excitement in it all.
Joseph Addison, a poet said: “Everything that is new or uncommon raises a pleasure in the imagination, because it fills the soul with an agreeable surprise, gratifies its curiosity, and gives it an idea of which it was not before possessed.”
For my attending, who may have seen thousands upon thousands of patients with very similar presentations, this zebra case must have stirred up a renewed sense of adventure, a break from an otherwise regular routine of patients.
Perhaps, it is that hot flush of novelty, that infectious high of our peers that perpetuate our own behaviour.
Too often our fascinations show outwardly as our primary intent. In the process, we forget that the patient has a name, has a right to be treated with dignity, has an illness that still needs to be treated. In the process, we forget that the condition does not define the patient any more than he defines the condition.
It is a strange situation we find ourselves in, to be excited and captivated by our morbid curiosity; on some level, we must in order to learn and improve as clinicians; at the end of the day however, it must come at the expense of someone else’s health. For that, I must always consider the fine line that separates respectful and disrespectful learning.
“Pretty neat findings, eh?” He nudges me. I take a look back at the patient’s room. I watch as the family huddle in an emotional embrace as they come to terms with our news.
“Yeah. It is really interesting,” I mutter bleakly.
- strangebiology reblogged this from medicalstate and added:
- livelovetry reblogged this from wordbox
- worldofthenebulous likes this
- justalittledoctor reblogged this from medicalstate
- desiree91 reblogged this from medicalstate
- roxannegarcia reblogged this from medicalstate
- roxannegarcia likes this
- heyhach reblogged this from medicalstate
- scummymummy likes this
- turning-back-into-soil likes this
- potato-bunny reblogged this from zygoma
- nowhereelsetorunto reblogged this from zygoma
- citysoliloquy likes this
- zygoma reblogged this from medicalstate
- fatumingenium likes this
- evelynalvarez95 likes this
- mr-squiggle likes this
- jfk33 likes this
- ngpu reblogged this from medicalstate
- blue-sapphire2344 reblogged this from medicalstate
- ao0oga likes this
- munfaridzaidi reblogged this from medicalstate
- tinynegi likes this
- frostyicecube likes this
- ohiomandy reblogged this from medicalstate
- vipernora likes this
- sowonsongchi likes this
- box-of-trinkets likes this
- followmekanye likes this
- operationjenn reblogged this from medicalstate
- avianflew likes this
- cactuscuddles likes this
- 4everperfect likes this
- mtinic likes this
- a-votre-sante likes this
- starlightwhirl likes this
- --dopamine likes this
- theidiotspeaks likes this
- sunshineinmyis likes this
- stefania-spano reblogged this from medicalstate
- akaosthoughts likes this
- la-jubilance likes this
- ramirec reblogged this from medicalstate
- theydontknowhowitfeels reblogged this from medicalstate
- theydontknowhowitfeels likes this
- picaillons reblogged this from medicalstate
- hopityhop likes this
- infatuated-with likes this
- capetowntocanada likes this