Don’t even try to refute,
For this there is no dispute
Could I get any closer?
I tell you, No Sir!
Happiness is a shorter commute
Synopsis: I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. On sabbatical to avoid burnout, while my non-compete clause ticks away I’m having adventures, visiting family and friends, and working in out-of-the-way places. After a six-week assignment in Barrow, Alaska, I’m working on the North Island of New Zealand.
I started the day at leisure with a seven-step commute to my office. I sat down promptly at 8:00 AM and started to review lab work.
In the quiet of the morning, early, before the first patient arrived, I found an alarming erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) with the highest C-reactive protein (CRP) I’ve ever seen; both markers of inflammation throughout the body, I prescribed prednisone. I don’t prescribe that medication often, and always in the context of getting a specialist’s opinion.
I can’t talk about patients and their medical problems without permission, but I can talk about myself and about medicine. Yet diseases don’t come to me, people come to me; none of them perfect, each with flaws, quirks, a terrific back story and a family. Every person who seeks my advice has a unique smell, voice, accent, style of dress and body language.
If a person presents with an ear wax problem, and I take the wax out with a simple instrument called an ear curette, I’ll tell them how to keep the wax problem at bay. I make sure they’ve never had a hole in their ear drum and I instruct them to start with body temperature water and put in enough white vinegar that it smells like vinegar but not so much it feels cooler. Then, I say, use a bulb suction syringe to rinse the ears out about once a week.
I saw another person today with appendicitis, making three since I arrived. At least, I hope I saw the first case of appendicitis I’ve ever seen in a person who had enjoyed their lunch. I worry that my patient has something worse.
I saw a person with a single distended vein where I’ve never seen one before.
I made referrals the general surgeon, ophthalmologist, urologist, neurologist, and orthopedist.
At mid-morning, I took a tea break. While the fifteen minute hiatus comes built into my schedule, most mornings I use it to catch up. Today I walked back through the apartment, picked a lemon from the tree, came back in, made hot lemonade and sipped it while I talked with Bethany, nibbling on some exquisite dark chocolate macadamia nut bark.
When noon came round we lunched while we watched the shocking, driving rain outside. The first thunder we’ve heard since we arrived made us stop and listen.
The rain continued for the afternoon drive to Wellsford.
In accordance with the Medical Council of New Zealand rules, any doctor new to the system requires supervision their first year. In this case my supervisor is the clinical director, and we met in the early afternoon.
I enjoyed the interview.
A reasonable clinical pace. I told people on asthma medication to quit smoking. I gave others with high cholesterol levels instructions about diet and exercise.
Driving back to Matakana in the rain, we learned that the same storm that gave our afternoon’s deluge spawned a tornado, so rare in New Zealand that rating came only with difficulty.
Tags: appendicitis, cholesterol, clinical director, CRP, dark chocolate macadamia nut bark, ear wax, ESR, inflammation, lemonade, Matakana, prednisone, supervisor, thunder, tornado, venous distension, Wellsford