Thursday, December 13, 2012

Some Collected Thoughts

My life is a walk down the hospital floor.

Hello Bev. How was your weekend? Hey Dr. Ryan (Ryan is the nurse who teaches me all about effective pain meds.) Your Broncos are doin' a ton better since I last saw you! This makes Ryan grin. I still have a weird feeling talking about life outside the hospital is like talking life outside the mission. Foreign and distant...yet comforting. Usually I can say hi to one or two people on my hallway trips. The before and after is rounding, writing orders, double-checking my orders, tracking down consults, eating an apple--today it was Anna's homemade granola--taking a quick leak, and more rounding. But, the more I say hi, the more I feel at home. Funny how that works.

I've collected a few kernels of random knowledge and observations in the past week that feel to good not to blog about. First, the price of my hide. My co-intern taught me today that a wealthy father living in India will advertise his daughter for as much as 300,000 American dollars if he can catch a future physician son-in-law. The dowry.  Now when he told me this I was fishing through patient records and returning a page

Uh..that's amazing, I said, trying not to sound cliche. Wait! What did you say! 300,000? How much was your dowry?

He never did tell me. But his wedding in India lasted 14 days and cost 60,000 American dollars. In the words of a not-so-culturally-sensitive-American blogger, Holy Cow!

I'm ball-parking his dowry at 150 grand. And he said India is packed with wealthy. I don't know why this fact catches me off guard. You just read and hear so much about the poverty side. Their 1% might be the wealthiest in the world.

Second random kernel: And this one is good. I work at the hospital across the street from the most famous McDonald's in the world. It's the one, get this, where a woman ordered coffee in the drive through and subsequently spilled it on her legs, resulting in the famous lawsuit which won her millions and placed "caution hot" messages on our cups. Her story is interesting. She succumbed to multiple surgeries and infections, not just some coffee burns. But still, she should've been more careful.

Awesome kernel of the year: The Phoenix Suns, once mighty now flighty, recently offered to their fans against the Dallas Mavericks a money-back guarantee if they were not satisfied with the ballgame. Suns fan, yes, I am.

Final kernel: Dr. Mason. Dr. Mason is a dermatologist here at the Albuquerque VA. He is old. He wears a bow tie to work And around his waist is a black fanny pack. Inside this pack rest his accoutrements of the trade: a magnifying glass, a light, some pens, and some other small knick-knacks. He dons no stethoscope. And he walks around the halls between seeing patients holding his gun of liquid nitrogen. This past month I had the immense pleasure of working with him every Friday afternoon in dermatology clinic. In his old age he can breath fresh life into medicine. He makes patients smile, he heals their ailments, and he makes my heart warm. Just last Friday I walked in with my helmet on. Now that's a fancy helmet, he said. He then looked back at the desk where his helmet sat, turned upside down. It was from the 70's. It was, in fact, purchased in the Univ. of Arizona bookstore by his son who was at that time a wildcat. I offered to trade my new for his old, on the spot. But he declined, sadly. I love to collect items from people I admire.

Now Mason is a man who understands the art of medicine is more than treatment. It's conversation as well. Intelligent conversation. Take this pearl he shared with a patient suffering from dandruff:

Now what head and shoulders do you use? What color is the bottle? Is it the new blue head and shoulders? Awww, that's a good one. It's got, awww, selenium in it. The white bottle has, awww, zinc pyrithione. Now if you walk into Walgreen, look for this white bottle. It's $7. Now, awww, right next to it is the Walgreen's brand for $3.50. Grab the Walgreen's one and you're set. Now, to get the action, you need to command your bathroom for a while. Walk in five minutes before your shower and apply shampoo to your affected spots. Let it sit for five minutes. Keep command of the bathroom. Then get in the shower and scrub the stuff off. That's how you use head and shoulders for dermatitis.

That is medicine! And cost-effective at that. If we had more Mason's, we could get every state on health exchanges with no trepidation of how we'd save enough to pay for it. He effectively cuts the cost of medicine by %50. Head and shoulders above the rest...

One more unforgettable note on Dr. Mason. We had a certain encounter together with a farmer his age, complaining of lower leg red spots. They were in the distribution of the sock line. Mr Angus was his name, go figure. While Dr. Mason explained the condition, he raised his own pant legs and began to show off his shins. He then explained what he used on his shins. A certain hydrophilic ointment. The two old men, relics of the clean America of decades ago, sat there in their western manliness, showing off their ankles to each other, talking about lotion application. And both were animated like kids under the Christmas tree discovering a new present. It was classic.

I'll try and remember Dr. Mason. A man who does more than just write scripts for medication. he converses. He conserves. He confirms. He compliments. I'll miss working with him and how he always said to the patient after we saw them, "Now, awww, put some of Dr. Spencer's medicine on the spots on you'll be set." Just like him, to pawn off the credit on the next generation. I'll miss him, but I might run into him out on those Albuquerque bike trails on some Saturday morning.

As for tonight, time to sign off. A physician told me to walk out tonight at 10:00 to witness the Gemini meteor shower. That gives me fifteen minutes to make some hot chocolate to brave the thirty degrees. Anna is in Utah for her Grandma's funeral.
See Obituary About A Wonderful Saint
So I finish with one of her best quotes of the week: "Men love women...women love love animals." That got me to thinking, no wonder we men eat like animals sometimes at the dinner table, we just want to make the women and kids in lives smile :)

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