Hundreds of articles have been published on the theme of a doctor becoming a patient. I’d like to add one more to the literature. But only to express my gratitude.
Over the years, I’ve cataloged many of the headaches faced by professionals in health care. This includes the countless challenges doctors face each and every day in performing their job. Such challenges can be demoralizing. And it often leads to advice senior doctors give to college students to consider other professions.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m an avid cyclist. I love cycling. I love the people I ride with. Many of these are people I would never recognize on the street without a bike jersey or helmet on. Still, we have a shared passion. As one sports writer once penned, cyclists fetishize agony. My wife doesn’t understand it. But she knows it’s part of who I am.
On July 23, the lead rider in our group dodged a gigantic pothole. We were 9 miles shy of finishing an 80 mile ride. The rider behind the leader hit the pothole and went down. Down came the dominoes. I was one of those dominoes. My bike was the least damaged of the group’s. But my body was the most damaged.
Initially I struggle to breathe. I knew I had at least one rib fracture. But I could not tell whether I had a pneumothorax. If so, the clock was ticking to get quick treatment. I also had a swollen elbow and swollen shoulder. I was alert and oriented. One of the riders quickly called his wife and she was at the scene within minutes. She dropped me off at the emergency room. I called my wife in the interim. She met me at the emergency room. My breathing eased.
The damage: five rib fractures, left clavicle fracture, left comminuted elbow fracture. I probably also had some pulmonary contusions as my oxygen saturation was approximately 90%. Still, I felt fortunate. No head injury, your spine injury, no visceral injuries.
My doctor friends were wonderful. The surgeons, the nurses, the techs, and everyone I interacted with at the hospital, were superstars in my book. They took care of me. They took care of my family. I have nothing but gratitude. Medicine is indeed a great profession. A thousand thanks for ALL you do each and every day.
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