I recently went to a medical specialist for my yearly checkup. This young but very bright doctor had impressed me from the moment I met him three years ago. He was always very thorough, but had a sense of humor. He'd laugh at my jokes, but always answered my questions in precise detail. He had to be about the same age as my sons. I'd guess late thirties. Based on his surname and looks he had ancestors from India, but he had a tinge of a Texas accent (think I saw a Texas Tech diploma somewhere on the wall), which added to his kind personality. He always jokes with me when he sees me. "John, if all my patients were as fit as you I'd be out of business".
On this day the doctor was running way behind. My appointment was at 11:15, and the doctor walked in at 12:15. We must've been eating into his lunchtime. As he asked me how I was doing and sat down in his stool, I sensed he wasn't his normal chipper self. After decades in sales, I read people quickly. "I'm good doctor, and how are you?". He looked up from his computer screen and gazed out the window and took a deep breath. "You know you go through all this training and there are days you have situations come up and sometimes things just don't turn out the way they're supposed to..." He was upset. My instant read was this young man had lost a patient, and it appeared it had happened yesterday. I quickly told him a story about being placed in ICU many years ago as a precaution. I wasn't bad off or out of it like most patients in the area. I was awakened one night around 3 AM by voices. I quickly recognized the voice of my primary care physician, a seasoned veteran of internal medicine. I gathered quickly that she was trying valiantly to save the life of a school teacher who's viral infection had worked it's way into her brain. The doctor had called another doctor in the middle of the night to go over everything she had tried in an effort to save this woman's life. I was amazed as I lay there quietly listening to my doctor, obviously upset, but calmly reviewing on the phone any and all possibilities with her colleague. It was life or death, but she spoke calmly just as a pilot of a plane in distress does. I was amazed and in awe of my doctor that night.
I looked up at the young specialist in the exam room and he was listening intently. "Yes!" he said. "That's exactly how my colleague and I handled things!. We kept reviewing all options and tried everything we could think of." Then he looked up at me... "Last night I kept waking up and every time I did, I'd go over everything that had happened..almost in slow motion"
He then took a big breath and started my exam. As we talked I told him stories about how I'd been an orderly at Hermann Hospital in Downtown Houston while I was in college. As I told him some of the comical screw ups I'd seen, he started to laugh and smile. He finished the exam and left my room. On the way out I passed him seated and working on my file. Without really stopping I tapped his shoulder and said "Sorry you had to go through that" and as I walked away he said "Thanks John!"
Walking out to my car I thought to myself... I'm part empath and I think I was meant to be there today just to listen to this young doctor. One week earlier I totally missed my scheduled appointment and was rescheduled to this meeting. I also thought.. I'm glad he's my doctor. He's bright and he's got a good heart. I'm betting he'll stay that way.