Thursday, September 12, 2013

Unexpected Perspective

It was a fairly typical day, with an afternoon schedule full of patients and a meeting at the end of the day, the only significant mystery being how late I'd be to the meeting because of the perpetual time-creep that has me running several minutes behind (at least) by the end of the day.

One particular patient I saw today was not very interesting at all, almost downright forgettable.  He was so absolutely straightforward (both medically and with direct communication) that I finished in 5 minutes fewer than the time he was scheduled for.  He is seen once a year, takes one medication, has no side effects, has exactly the desired response to that medication, and has no other issues.  He is a very nice, professional man who works hard, is good at what he does, and enjoys grown-up leisure activities.  I gave him a new prescription, told him I would see him in a year--sooner if the need or desire arose--and moved on to the next patient.  I didn't dictate a note on our visit, leaving that for later in the evening so that I wouldn't miss [more of] my meeting.  My other patients were all far more medically "interesting" (i.e., complicated, and generally not something someone aspires to) than he was, and I soon forgot about our visit.

Fast forward past my other patients, my meeting, dinner, kids' homework, bedtime battles...I sat down to dictate the afternoon's appointments.  When I got to him, I noticed his birthdate.  He was born on the day I was diagnosed with diabetes, 24 years ago.  Over the years I've gotten used to just counting (though there were several years where I wasn't counting at all, the years just stacking up).  Though I've reflected a little on the number, I haven't reflected at all on the actual time represented by that number.  I  stopped before dictating, transfixed by his birthdate, and it suddenly seemed that I've had diabetes forever. Since I was diagnosed, he was born, learned to crawl, to walk, to talk, went to kindergarten, high school, college, work.  He shaves.  He votes.  He drinks.  He's married.  He has a kid on the way.  Suddenly I saw my diabetes as an adult itself, having grown through all of those stages, in a flash.  How can my diabetes be old enough to do all of those things?

In the end, completely unexpectedly and in a completely new light, he was the most interesting patient I'd seen not only today, but in a very long time.


  1. Wow, cool story! But has diabetes matured over time as your patient did? That's something interesting to think about...

  2. Glad to have you here amongst us as a big boy in spite of the DM. (My T2 is just a toddler) Be well my friend, best to the girls.

  3. Sean.

    Great post. My view is that this patient is the EXACT model of what we want diabetes to be in people's lives.

    Something that has learned to crawl, to walk, to talk, went to kindergarten, high school, college, work. It shaves. It votes. It drinks. It's married. It has a kid on the way.

    While it is important, it is SECOND to all that crawling, walking, schooling and living.

    That is its place, not very interesting at all in comparison to what really matters.

    Thanks my favorite post in a very long time.