Friday, June 29, 2007

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  • An Unexpected Gift

    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.

    -Jesse Jackson


    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.

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    30 Comments:

    Anonymous mary lou said...

    What a gift! A what a gift you must have been to her. Your skill as a listener and healer is apparent from that quilt!

    6/29/2007 7:03 AM  
    Blogger JayJay said...

    Wow, that is so beautiful! I'm sure this represents only a small portion of the good that you've done for other people in your chosen profession this year. May there be many more wonderful years to come.

    6/29/2007 7:06 AM  
    Blogger Wool Winder said...

    Wow, that's beautiful! What a generous gift.

    6/29/2007 7:45 AM  
    Blogger Margene said...

    You must have touched her heart in a special way! You're going to be a fabulous Dr.

    6/29/2007 8:01 AM  
    Blogger knitzalot said...

    Wow, that's an amazing thing to receive. How sweet of her! I'm sure it won't be your last gift from a patient, but it will probably be your most treasured.

    6/29/2007 8:07 AM  
    Anonymous Kristen said...

    Oh my, that is touching. Congratulations on acing your year of internship, and best wishes as you head into residency.

    6/29/2007 8:08 AM  
    Anonymous Rachel said...

    Oh my goodness, isn't that wonderful! I bet you will get years and year of use out of that, and it will always be a great memory of a virtual stranger's unexpected generosity (perhaps an ideal we could all stand to keep in mind!).

    6/29/2007 8:35 AM  
    Blogger Elizabeth said...

    That is a wonderful gift, both the quilt and to be aware of the impact you had on your patient.

    Good luck with the residency!

    6/29/2007 8:44 AM  
    Blogger Liz K. said...

    My jaw just literally dropped. An auspicious beginning to a wonderful career caring for people.

    My dad, also a physician, had an amazing array of things from patients, including some ripple afghans that we still use!

    6/29/2007 9:06 AM  
    Blogger sloth-knits said...

    That is gorgeous! And congratulations on finishing your internship!

    6/29/2007 9:25 AM  
    Blogger Marsha said...

    Wow, what a really nice and thoughtful give. The thought of her kindness and the quilt will keep you warm for years! Very lovely!

    6/29/2007 10:44 AM  
    Blogger Liz said...

    I can't even see the pictures (firewall), and I'm melting at the thought of that kindness and generosity. How great. What a wonderful, wonderful keepsake.

    6/29/2007 10:58 AM  
    Blogger Ginger said...

    it's so beautiful!!! and a great story behind it too :)

    6/29/2007 11:29 AM  
    Blogger Carole Knits said...

    What a wonderful and touching gift.

    6/29/2007 11:38 AM  
    Blogger Kim said...

    Oh, wow! That's beautiful! Such a thoughtful patient.

    6/29/2007 1:25 PM  
    Blogger Jenn said...

    Beautiful!

    6/29/2007 3:00 PM  
    Anonymous Meg McG said...

    That is totally awesome! What a touching gift. What makes it more special is that it's easy to see that you truly understamd and appreciate the gesture of a handmade quilt. What a great connection you've made.

    6/29/2007 5:10 PM  
    Blogger Mia said...

    Wow. I suspect that this kind of moment is a big part of why you and I became doctors. I think that, despite all the barriers and stress and insurance disasters, that most of us enter medicine with a sincere desire to help people. I can't imagine a better way to represent that help than a lovely quilt! You'll always remember how much you meant to that one lady. And what better way to celebrate the end of your intern year and the kick-off of your second year! congrats...

    6/29/2007 5:35 PM  
    Blogger Jenni said...

    That was a very nice story and a sweet gift! She must know that you are working hard. I am a teacher and it is quite demanding. Every now and then I have a special moment of gratitude like the one you had. Those moments are very nice!

    6/29/2007 7:21 PM  
    Blogger Nonnahs said...

    How beautiful! What a lovely, thoughtful gift!

    PS: I saw Lisa today. I want to see your new 'do! :)

    6/29/2007 9:48 PM  
    Anonymous jennie said...

    oh, i just got a little verclempt. what a beautiful quilt and what an incredibly sweet gift!

    6/30/2007 9:31 AM  
    Blogger Disentangled said...

    Congrats on starting your residency and what a wonderful gift!

    6/30/2007 2:05 PM  
    Anonymous tiennie said...

    Oh wow! What a gift! You are definitely deserving. Congrats on making it through your internship and becoming a doctor!

    6/30/2007 8:52 PM  
    Blogger Carrie K said...

    Oh wow, what a wonderful wedding present! Congrats on finishing your internship! A whole two AND a HALF days off? What will you do with all that time?

    7/01/2007 6:18 PM  
    Blogger Melissa said...

    that looks SO COOL!!

    7/01/2007 6:19 PM  
    Anonymous Emily said...

    That is incredible! My heart just became a big mush of goo.

    (that is a medical term, as I am sure you know)

    7/01/2007 6:46 PM  
    Blogger Kat said...

    That is an amazing gift. When residency gets you down pull that out to remember what amazing work you do and how much you help people!

    7/02/2007 9:00 AM  
    Blogger TeresaB said...

    What a wonderful way she took to show you how much she's appreciated your healing and your willingness to help her. As someone who "makes things" I'm sure you'll treasure this wonderful gift. Good luck on your residency!

    7/02/2007 12:15 PM  
    Blogger Jenny Raye said...

    WOW! What a wonderful gift~~hers to you, of course, but even more, the gift you have obviously given her. Well done, doc! Keep up the good work!

    7/04/2007 6:51 AM  
    Blogger Lorette said...

    That is just beautiful, both the work and the thoughtfulness.

    I've gotten a handful of lovely things from patients over the years. My all-time favorite was a pot of chili from a patient and his wife who were regulars, but too poor to ever pay their bill. And you'll learn to save the little notes, cards, and thank-you letters you get. I have a folder of them, and pull them out to read when I'm feeling like it's really not worth all this much work.

    7/09/2007 1:11 PM  

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