Someone I Miss
Dave was a patient of one of the neurologists I used to work for. God do I miss that man. I think I’ve mentioned him before in this blog but it’s a story I need to repeat today.
Dave had a terrible neuropathy that affected most of his body causing overwhelming pain just about everywhere. He was a healthy middle-aged guy who had managed to retire early from his career as a high school football coach. He worked his butt off to reach early retirement and, not three months in, he began to suffer symptoms of the terrible disease process he suffered.
The poor man could not find any relief. Conventional medication did not settle his pain no matter what was tried. He had a morphine drip at home that did little to dull the pain when it was at its worst and when he was at his wit’s end he would come into the Emergency Department to beg for help. Because Dave’s condition was under the care of the neurologist, she was always the one called to come treat him. No one wanted to mess with his medications as they barely understood his condition.
The neurologist was very good at her job (very, very good) but she lacked compassion most times. I would pass along the message to her that Dave wanted to come into Emerg and she would usually say no with a dismissive wave of her hand.
“I cannot do anything for his pain. Tell him not to come to Emerg as there is nothing I can do!” She would have me relay to her patient.
Of course, I’d treat him with more care in my words. I’d talk with him for a few minutes, soothing voice, understanding. I’d explain why it wasn’t a good idea to come in; the ambulance ride, moving around so much in the hospital plus, he knew as well as I did that there would be no relief for him here. He needed to find a way to cope through the flare up on his own and I told him he could do it. For some reason, he listened to me and followed my advice to the letter.
Occasionally I would get a call from his lovely wife who was at her wit’s end herself. She would beg me to talk to Dave, even just for a few minutes when he was really suffering. I’d often hear him screaming in the background through desperate pleas and tears. The stress on the two of them much have been so overwhelming.
“He always feels better after talking to you.” She would tell me. I always agreed. I wasn’t about to let this guy suffer all alone…not if I could help in some way.
Today, and all days, I wish I could talk to him now. I wish I could pick up the phone and chat about how difficult it is to live in pain. He’d understand very well…much like my friends here who suffer from ongoing pain that seems to have no relief.
Dave passed away a few years back but I don’t think I’ll ever forget him. Now and then I ask him for help…for understanding and compassion. I’m pretty sure he gives it to me as he is able. I’m glad he’s out of pain now. I wish I could tell him that this morning.