“Things were happening at lightning speed,” she recalled of the scene at Baptist. “I had a burst fracture of L-1 and needed spine surgery….They were moving me, cutting off my clothes. I was scared and still screaming in pain and frustration,” she said. “At that moment, ER doctor Wendel Phals, MD, was at the head of my bed. He held my face and calmly and quietly said, ‘Janet, you’re going to be alright. We’re going to take care of you.’ For the first time since I’d hit the culvert, I felt calm, secure.”
After his own recovery, Klitzman wanted to understand the rare, dual perspective of physicians who have confronted serious disease. His interviews revealed first and foremost that many physicians resist, at least initially, the idea of beiing “sick” or being “the patient.” Furthermore, many physicians most resist “not” being the doctor…..
Griffin found both emotional and practical aspects of being a patient surprised him. “I was surprised at the size of my bills,” said Griffin, adding that he understands now the number of medical bankruptcies. ….Also surprising to him was his embarrassment to ask for pain medicine. “I was afraid someone would think I was becoming addicted,” he said. “……..I imagine there are many more patients suffering from pain than are abusing pain meds.”
“As a physician, you never know what little thing a patient is going to latch onto…be impacted from,” she said, remembering that night eight months ago, in the Baptist ER. “As a patient, I felt my recovery began when amidst the chaos of the night, Dr. Pahls took a few moments to look at me and reassure me.”All of that medical knowledge can be a blessing and a curse, especially when physicians suffer from something serious or debilitating, Cathey implied. “For me to have a devastating injury, it really hit hard. Being a physician takes away some of the hope that you’d have if you didn’t know your limitations,” she said.
I was walking down the hall at work on a very ordinary day in December. I had sudden onset of excruciating right shoulder, neck, and upper arm pain. For the first time in my life, the "...if 10 is the worst pain you can imagine" finally had meaning. ……. The next 48 hrs were a whirlwind: emails, calls, and pages to my internist (I am usually a once a year-ish whether I need it or not patient), a possible diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, MRIs of my brain, spinal cord, shoulder, appts with ortho, neuro, and ultimately neuromuscular, including the test that provided a diagnosis: an EMG/NCS. The diagnosis was something rare called Parsonage-Turner Syndrome. I had never heard of it before (which is a very bad feeling as a doctor).So, what have I learned from this experience of being on the wrong side of the stethoscope? A lot that I am still struggling to put into words and a lot worth sharing.