Christian Medical Blog
Dorothy had reached her wit’s end. She had visited the emergency room of local hospitals at least three times over as many months, but still her pain continued. No answers.
As a new grandmother Dorothy didn’t have time to give so much attention to herself. She had reached the point where an explanation had more immediate value to her than a cure. Before she gave up she thought she would try once more.
Dorothy sat in the room quietly as I walked in and sat beside her. “What brings you here today?” I asked as I had done about fifty times already that day.
“I don’t know what to do, Doc.” She admitted.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I have this pain. It’s in my chest. It’s been going on for several months and it just bothers me. Something is not right.”
I probably sighed a little bit, but she had peaked my interest with the words “chest” and “pain.” It was obvious she was not having a heart attack at the moment.
“Go on,” I said.
Taking a breath, she continued. “Everybody says it’s indigestion.”
“Why do they say that?”
“I don’t know. That’s they way I describe it to them. And, that’s the way it feels. I have burning right here.” She said pointing to the middle part of her chest. “But none of the indigestion meds I’ve taken have helped...and I think I’ve tried them all.”
This particular day I was exhausted. I was working a free after-hours clinic, and I had already had a full day at the clinic, nursing home, and hospital. I was almost inclined to agree with all the other docs she had seen, but something urged me to go a little deeper. “So what seems to make your pain worse? When was the last time you had it?”
“Doc, it happens almost everyday.”
“What are you doing when the pain happens? I asked.
“It’s hard to tell. Seems to happen when I walk and after I eat.”
“Like walking to the mailbox?”
“Yeah, my mailbox is a little walk from the house. I have indigestion almost everytime I go get the mail.”
“Wow.” I said to myself as I realized the problem. Dorothy was experiencing classic signs of heart disease. The indigestion she was describing wasn’t indigestion. That “not right” feeling was really “angina” in doctor-talk.
Knowing what was wrong had suddenly become the easy part of taking care of Dorothy. I remembered this was a free clinic and none of the patients there had any insurance. Having heart disease in America (or any country) is not a cheap problem to have.
Thinking about her options, I couldn’t come up with any resource that would make the finances work any easier. I looked Dorothy in the eyes and told her she was having a heart problem and needed further testing that only a heart doctor could do. I gave her several names of cardiologists and told her to make an appointment as soon as she could. As for the cost, I told her it would probably be expensive but it was extremely important.
As she left the clinic that night, I looked at her again and reiterated my point with a look from my eyes to hers. She nodded, smiled, and thanked me for my time.
Driving home, I reflected on her case some more. I was the fourth guy to see her, and I was almost the fourth guy to agree with her that she was having bad indigestion. Who knows what she told the other doctors. It is very common for patients to change their stories over time. This doesn't happen not because they are trying to be difficult, but because the longer people live with their symptoms the better they are at explaining them to the doctor.
I went on to think about God’s Grace and how I knew it was He that urged me to dig deeper. He was the one that gave me the wisdom at that moment in the day - when I was tired and ready to go home - to recognize her symptoms.
I also thought about how many other patients I have taken care of in the past who had the same kind of heart pains as Dorothy but were interpreted as something else by the patient.
Dorothy came back to the clinic a couple of months later, but not as a patient. She was standing at the window and asked to see me. I’ll be honest. I didn’t remember who she was until she told her story. I often forget names and faces, but I hardly ever forget a story.
Dorothy had followed my instructions. She found a heart doctor that would take payments on everything - clinic, labs, tests, etc. He agreed with what I had told her and did a heart catheterization which revealed a 99% blockage that he corrected easily with a stent.
She just wanted to say thank you. Dorothy and I talked for a little bit, and I went on to see the next patient.
“What brings you here today?” I asked for the fiftieth time.
Dorothy’s story has prompted me to write a list of Commonly Missed Heart Attack Symptoms. Check it out now and share it with anyone you think that might have unknown heart problems!
DISCLAIMER: This blog is for fun only and none of the information in the posts or links are meant in anyway to constitute medical advice from anyone or for anyone. No material or interactions that occur on this website are meant to establish or continue a doctor-patient relationship under any circumstances. Everyone is different and there is never, ever a single answer that is always the same for everyone. If you need medical advice for a problem you have, go see your doctor and talk it over! If you are experiencing an emergency, seek emergency care as soon as possible.
Copyright (©) RedeemingMed.com, 2017