Saturday, September 30, 2006

"She was dying, and he didn't even look at her."

"I was watching my wife die over the course of those nine months. Our family doctor sent us to see a specialist. Without even doing a physical to see the her ribs jutting out of her back, he told me that 'women typically lose weight during their menstural period.' I was shocked. She was dying, she was as skinny as a corpse, her brain wasn't functioning properly, and he tried to tell me it was her menstrual period. He didn't even look at her."

That happened almost thirty years ago, and still, my patient's husband talks as if this happened last week. Today I had to go to the home of a patient who had volunteered to discuss their chronic condition, part of a rather interesting assignment meant to get me thinking about the impact of a chronic condition on a patient's life and family.

Unfortunately, the husband is still convinced that the only reason his wife was eventually diagnosed or received treatment is because he reamed out the doctor.

Not every story like that has a happy ending. But this one did. Once they diagnosed the disease, although that was a nine-month process, they gave her one injection and other than the low body weight, she was completely normal the next day. Today, one pill per day is all she needs to live a completely normal life, and if she didn't tell you about her disorder, you wouldn't even know it existed.

If only all diseases had outcomes like that...

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