America is not like a blanket - one piece of unbroken cloth,
the same color, the same texture, the same size.
America is more like a quilt -
many patches, many pieces, many colors, many sizes,
all woven and held together by a common thread.
Today is my very last day of internship. That seems very dramatic considering that I have a whole 2 1/2 days off before residency starts on Monday. But that makes today both a good time to reflect, and the perfect time to tell you about my clinic last week. Read on - it's better than it sounds.
I had an amazing surprise last week in clinic. You probably recall that I'm doing my residency in Internal Medicine, which is a field that broadly encompasses everything from the ICU to Rheumatology and Infectious Disease to Primary Care. So all year long, no matter how many nights I've been in the ICU or the CCU or the wards, or doing shifts in the ER, or even my Derm roatation, every Thursday afternoon I go to My Clinic. And to this clinic come My Patients.
There are about 60 or so right now, soon to increase up to about 100. And from my very first day ever as a doctor, these patients and their multiple medical problems have been stuck with me as their primary physician. They see me for routine check-ups. I check their cholesterol, bone density, blood pressure, blood sugar, and the "spots" on their lungs. I ask about their family history, tell them to stop smoking, and make sure they get their immunizations. When they are sick, I get called to see them in the hospital. When they are less sick, the ER calls and asks me to squeeze them in this week. When they are a little less sick, they walk into my office with back pain, fevers, headaches, and any number of other complaints I won't talk about here.
Among these 60 patients, there are a few I've never seen more than once. Many I've seen about 2 or 3 times now. And some I've seen at least every month, maybe more. Last Thursday, I saw one of these latter patients. A woman sent to my clinic by a colleague because she needed "a doctor." And she did. So many office visits and telephone calls and coordination with different doctors in different departments later, she's doing much better. So much better that she's able to get back to one of her favorite activities.
Sewing. This patient of mine made me a quilt as a wedding present. It's lovely. And I'm just (nearly) speechless. What an amazing gift.