A sweet guy who has actually long since passed away once sat in my office. He was a friend as well as my patient. He had hepatitis c with cirrhosis and at that time was recently discovered to have hepatocellular carcinoma.
We were talking about what he wanted to do for the remaining few months of his life. Because of widely metastatic disease he was not considered a transplant candidate. He still drank and rolled his own cigarettes because the branded cigarettes were not strong enough and were shamelessly expensive.
Somehow the conversation turned to how he acquired the hepatitis c. He surprised me by saying he is very proud of the way he got it. Turns out he used to work in a traveling carnival. He used to be a “carnie”. During his travels he had sex with more than 600 women. He was in fact still in contact with several of them. Traveling with the carnival was the highest point of his life. Several of his partners turned out to hepatitis c positive .Most likely he acquired hepatitis c through sex.
He told me he loved most of the women he was with and most of the women loved him . Of course a lot of times they were not the same persons.
He wanted his ashes to be spread on a beach on the west coast .That was where he started as a ‘carnie’. I pointed out to him that his ashes may have too high a nicotine content for the fishes but he just laughed it off.For some strange reason he did not take me seriously on that.
He did not bear a grudge. He had no regret. When asked if he would rather not have had sex with all this women and be Hepatitis C free. He said he would do everything the same if he had to do it all over again except perhaps wear a condom.
I, being a one woman man was a little out of my element but after doing what I do for more than a decade I was not uncomfortable with the discussion. In fact I liked the man for being who he was. He was happy .Regardless of everything he had been through and was going to go through, he was happy.
If you take the fact that his biggest objective in life was to have sex with as much women as possible I would say he was successful also. A lot of men don’t get what they aim for . He was a successful and a happy man even if he was not considered so by the rest of the society.
So the patient is admitted from the ER At 11 pm . An intern goes to see her and do a history and physical . The patient , an African American woman refuses to let this intern take care of him.
” I don’t want no brown man touching me ”
Unfortunately this being a major hospital In a major United States city , half the doctors are brown and coincidently all the interns on call at night are brown. Most of these interns are born and raised American though and speak American English
We discuss amongst each other and finally a 3rd year resident who is white goes to see the patient .
The senior resident has an Eastern European accent.
The patient says” Can’t I have an American doctor. A white or a black American”
We eventually called our attending who happened to be white . He came and saw the patient . Later on patient was given a letter explaining the rights and responsibilities of patients etc.
The funny part of the story is that until then I did not know that there was a tier system in racism .
Everybody agrees that the number one race is white . They are the baddest of them all , but my oh my ! if there isnt a competition for the number two spot.
So the doctor is taking care of a patient who in the ICU. Patient is intubated, has nasogastric tube and is on continuous dialysis. He was however awake for the first time today and was able to communicate with hand signals and writing on a board. Patient had severe infection and was on three different intravenous antibiotics, one of which was running at the moment.
When the doctor came to see him , the patients asked for his phone after the usual daily checkup.
The doctor gave the patient his phone, offering to dial the number . To which the patient said no.
The patient took the phone and somehow managed to perform the most important thing he could think of upon waking up after several days in a coma .
Taking a selfie and posting it on Facebook!
Doctor: I am concerned about your husband’s recent labs. I would like to repeat them ,if possible tomorrow. Based on the labs he may need a biopsy or may even need to be admitted to the hospital.
Mrs A: Fine , we will go to the lab but if they make Us wait we are leaving. We are busy people too.
Patient: you cannot stop my water pill . I have too much fluid on me . Look at my legs , look at my arms , look at my face
Doctor: You don’t have fluid on you.
Patient : How can you say that. I have always been on water pills.
Doctor: Your labs show you are dehydrated , your exam shows you are dehydrated.
Patient : Then what’s all this.( pointing to her legs)
Doctor: (gingerly)Has anybody ever mentioned the word ‘fat’
Nurse : I was at the church . Placed some flowers. They were expensive but then I thought god is worth 30 dollars.
Dr cranky: ok I believe you . Here is 60 dollars ,can I have two.
Patient : ” I don’t really have nausea . I mean I can eat and drink but whenever I put something in my mouth like a pen or a pencil I get nauseous”
Dr Cranky ( thoughtfully and seriously ): ” how about you go about your life without putting pens or pencils in your mouth .