"Hello Mrs. Jones," I say as I walk into the exam room. "How many times do I have to tell you that it's ok to call me Dot," this very pleasant 64-year old female says to me. As I look at her chart, I'm always trying to figure out how Dot was shortened from the name of something like Dorothy, Dolores, or Desiree.
"I haven't seen you in a while," I continue. "Well, doc, I got laid off a few months ago and that's why I haven't been in the office for a while." "I need my refills today, but I have no insurance right now. I hope in the next 7 months that nothing really bad happens, because that's when my Medicare kicks in, and in this economy, I don't anticipate getting another job any time soon."
"How have you been doing," I asked. "Well," she said, "it's been rough, since I have a little medical training, I've been helping take care of my sick relatives, and that's been a stress on me. In addition to always thinking about my financial situation."
She was talking like her usual self -- Then -- She paused -- Silence -- And it felt like an hour of no words between us. I saw a small tear forming, and this is when the flood gates opened. She broke down right there in my office. "I'm sorry doc," another couple minutes passed by. "I have felt like I've had to stay strong for my family for so long. But, I gotta be honest with you, I'm really scared right now..."
We had a great conversation following this about her family, her life, and finally, about her health. When I left the room, I looked up at the clock and saw that I was now very behind in my schedule. But, sometimes, there is a key moment in someone's life that needs to be recognized. This is why I went into medicine. I actually felt like I made a difference that day. This is why I love being a family physician!