Mark vs Cancer

Friday, April 21, 2006

End of the Week

No profound musings this time. Just a brief sigh at the end of a busy, frustrating and fascinating week. And I finally have a weekend completely free! It's been such a long time. And I'm so grateful the weather is supposed to be good.

Yesterday was a rough day--I worked about 16 hours straight of pure stress and saw over 5o patients in that time (at the hospital, in the clinic, and at Loveland First Care). On long days like that, each patient comes with their own issues and expectations, and I try to come into each encounter with a fresh perspective, devoting them my full attention and mental capacity (which is not much). But by the end of a day like that, it's tough to maintain my equanimity, and the reservoir of compassion runs low. Like the upset grandma (the actual mom looked about 12 yrs old) who could not be convinced that her grandbaby's rash was benign and self-limiting and not at all concerning. What did she want me to do? Grrrr. And she wasn't very nice about it.

Today was a much different story. I had a pleasant and relaxing clinic full of fairly reasonable people and cute kids. And in the middle of it I was able to do an "external version" on my private OB patient, which involved manipulating the baby from a breech position to a vertex, or head down, position. Very, very cool.

I also presented a case at our bioethics committee meeting today. It's a committee made up of doctors and lawyers and ethicists and social workers that meets once a month to argue about ethics cases. It used to be frustrating to me because nothing would actually be decided or agreed upon--just lots of vocal, unsubstantiated opinion. But what arena could be more appropriate for a Foster? It's a chance to discuss the fascinating grey areas of medical ethics, and it's something I greatly enjoy. Almost everyday I encounter some grey area of ethics--not a hypothetical case, but a real breathing patient or family that is attempting to make life altering decisions. While I am a believer in absolute truth, there are rarely clear-cut answers in medical ethics. Most always, the dilemmas involve the competing effects of two ethical tenets. For example, Autonomy often conflicts with Non-malificence (Do no harm), as in the case of physician-assisted suicide. Which one trumps the other? But that's a discussion for another day.

So now it is Friday evening, and I'm heading home for the weekend! Elizabeth and I are going out for Mexican food tonight. As we say in espanol . . . una enchilada.


Wendi said...

I'm curious to hear more of your take on the gray areas of medical ethics, Mark...very interesting and socially relevant stuff I.M.H.O.. Having a physician in the family is a tremendous resource, both in informational and entertainment value!

TulipGirl said...

External version? Ouch.

(My fourth was reluctant to turn. We did avoid a version.)