12 July 2008

You Can Go Home Again...

This is going to be one of those posts about a nice experience that I had in the last couple of weeks. A few weeks ago, I was covering for one of my colleagues who was out of town at a meeting. He asked me to stop by an outlying hospital to check on one patient that he had there. This patient was going to be hospitalized for at least another four of five days and I was happy to look in on him for my friend who would do the same for me if necessary.

The patient was out of the room having a diagnostic study completed in the radiology department. A very distinguished gentleman was patiently waiting for him to return. He sat in one of the chairs at the bedside with a magazine on counter-terrorism (spy business). The magazine immediately caught my eye as someone I had known many, many years ago, was an expert on counter-terrorism and a writer. I introduced myself and said that I was the covering physician for my colleague who was out of town. The gentleman said that he was told that I would be the covering physician and introduced himself as a relative. I told him that his loved one would be back from radiology in a couple of minutes and that I would wait.

I also mentioned my old friend who was a writer and who was a counter-terrorism expert. It turned out that this gentleman knew my friend's writings very well. Their paths had crossed many times in the past. He was also able to tell me that my friend had moved to another state from when I knew him and that I should get in touch with him. I made a note on my "rounding sheet" with my friend's name and about that time, the patient returned from radiology.

A week or so went by and my secretary asked me about the name on the rounding sheet. "Was this a new patient?" she asked. I had to laugh and tell her "goodness no" but the name of someone that I knew in my "other" life long before medical school and even before graduate school. I told her of my life before college teaching and medicine and said that I had thought about the person from time to time but had no contact. I told her of the patient's relative and she looked up my friend's phone number, leaving it on an index card on my desk.

Last Sunday, while I was finishing up some of my paperwork, I called my old friend. He was not available at that time but he returned my call about 45 minutes later. I must admit, I was very happy to hear my friend's voice. He sounded much the same but was a very nice reminder of how everything in my life has prepared me for this profession. I believe that he was surprised that I had entered medicine and surgery because they were so far away from my previous life but I am reminded of how small our word is and how much one phone call from an old friend can just be one of the nicest things to happen.

I hope my friend's life has been as rich and rewarding as mine. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't pinch myself to make sure that I am not dreaming. I really love my work and taking care of my patients. I am honored that they place their lives and health in my hands and I never find this job routine. Even something as simple as doing a favor for a friend who was out of town has brought just a little extra joy in my life and the renewing of an old friendship that I thought long past. Enjoy the little things in life as they are precious.

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