This week has been an especially stressful one that involved an entirely too-high number of patients that I saw, a brand new resident, and one particularly trying experience in clinic.
This past Thursday marked the 7 year anniversary of my dad’s death from pancreatic cancer. I was 18, my brother 16, and the whole experience was a horrifically scarring one. The wounds have scabbed, but my family has suffered tremendously from his loss. In clinic this week, one of my patients eyes welled up, and she confided in me that her mother had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I am generally pretty reserved in clinic, only sharing personal details about my life when asked a direct question.
Pancreatic cancer is such a horrific cancer, with the five year survival rate at less than 4%. Many of those diagnosed will never survive past the initial months after their diagnosis. In a world where there are more and more survivors of various cancers, friends and family members who have lost someone to pancreatic cancer can feel isolated and overlooked by the rest of the world hell-bent on continuing to talk about “beating” cancer and “livestrong”
“My dad had pancreatic cancer too,” the words flying out of my mouth before I could contain them. The next few minutes contained lots of tears, hugs, and the strange kind of connection that can only come between people who have had the unthinkable happen to them.
I never would have been able to hold it together the rest of the day had it not been for my amazing co-workers sheaparding me from room to room, double checking that all my labs were ordered and charting completed.
Last night, my husband and I went out to sushi, my dad’s favorite food and one that he introduced me to when I was a preteen, and we toasted (with an IPA of course,) to one helluva dad who introduced me to home brewing and baseball, who always approached life with a sense of humor and wasn’t afraid to try new things, always listened and encouraged my passions, and has inspired me to lead a life that I am in love with every single day.
So, dear readers, it is time for some much needed humor:
When people tell me that they think the HPV vaccine isn’t safe. Even though I tell them that studies that included now tends of thousands of women show that it is safe and effective with the biggest side effect being a sore arm.
Every time I call the medical director to ask a question:
When the front desk comes back to tell me there is a couple screaming at each other in the waiting room, both of them with symptoms and she’s bringing both of them for me to see in the same exam room. 30 minutes before I’m supposed to leave
When one of my buddy NPs and I text each other through one of our clinician meetings:
How I feel about steri-strips:
When I have to eat in between patients because I, yet again, don’t get to take a lunch:
When I’m trying to balance a cup of water, meds, the patient chart and open the exam room door:
When I watch my resident get KOH all over the lens of the microscope:
When I have several patients no-show and I can walk a sexual assault survivor through her first pelvic exam since her assault and she thanks me for my kindness and gentle touch:
When a patient shows me their rash and it looks like absolutely nothing I have ever seen before, and my resident asks me what to do:
When I get my lab coat caught on literally everything in the clinic:
When my resident asks why I don’t do a full mental health assessment when my patients are scheduled every 10 minutes:
When you’ve been talking so much that by the end of the day you start combining words and are generally incoherent:
When I’ve had an inordinate number of men on my schedule before lunch:
When your clinic has run out of lidocaine with epinephrine for nexplanon removals, which helps decrease bleeding, so you do it with plain lido and you get that sucker out in 10 minutes flat even though you can’t see what you’re doing:
And finally, every time I’m talking about sex with my patients:
Happy weekend, everyone!