Cancer on the Weekend

By | July 15, 2012

Patients need weekends and doctors need weekends, but sometimes cancer doesn’t cooperate.

I didn’t publish the regular blog this morning because I was thinking about Nancy (not her real name). You see, Nancy is a cancer patient and despite all of our rules and preferences, I implanted her intrathecal pain pump on Thursday evening, guaranteeing that a large part of her initial care would have to be given over the weekend. I have spoken to her several times over the weekend and had planned to see her in the office yesterday afternoon, but at the last moment she begged off saying that she didn’t feel up to driving and that there was no one to bring her. I asked if she wanted to go to the Emergency Room and be admitted to hospital, but again she declined. Nancy said that she just wanted to rest at home. This is not the kind of thing that a doctor really wants to hear. We always feel better when we can actually see the patient face to face, but I acceded to her request. When I spoke to her this morning she sounded better and I got her to promise to come in this afternoon. I was relieved when I saw her and noted only the expected side effects of therapy. There are many pain management physicians who don’t do cancer work because they don’t want these kinds of phone calls and weekend visits. I don’t think that I could ever stop. I don’t mind the time commitment, but I could do without the worrying. In the end it is the most rewarding thing that I do. Over the next several days I will look at this case in more detail and try to explain why I find this work so satisfying.

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