Joseph Van Wart - Patient Centered Ethics: Pathography

Jan 21, 2022 at 05:15 pm by pj


     Pain, sharp and deep, almost what feels like too hard to bear, at some points radiates from my back to my groin, almost as if it is shooting through me. I already know what it is… another kidney stone, but this one is worse. This one isn’t passing, and your husband’s constant nagging brought you here.

      After what felt like days, but was just a few hours, they finally took me back to a bed in the ER, and now my patience is wearing thin. Already annoyed, I prepare myself for the upcoming uncomfortableness, the way everyone looks and speaks but I can’t hear them. In fact, I’ve never been able to hear them and although I’ve grown accustomed to the pointing and head nods, it still makes me feel distant.

     A nurse comes in to check my blood pressure followed quickly by a young man in scrubs and a white coat. I can see both of their mouths moving beneath the masks but ever since everyone has been wearing them, I can’t read lips anymore which makes things even harder.

      I patiently wait for when I believe they’ve stopped, and they both look at me. I quickly pull out my phone and type “I’m deaf.” They both stop and the young man raises his hands and signs, “Hi I am Joe.” His letters are slow and deliberate but it was a kind gesture and I smile. He then pulls out his phone and types “I will be right back.”

     He quickly leaves the room and I let the nurse get my blood pressure and start an i.v. He returns about a minute later with a stack of papers and 2 pens. I smile at him amused.

     He writes “I am an FSU med student will this work?” I smile and give him a thumbs up.

      So, we began writing back and forth and he asked what brought me in and I wrote about my kidney stones and how this isn’t the first time this has happened. He asked me about how long it had been going on and if there was any of these “symptoms” I had been having with them. I just wrote back about my pain. He smiled, thanked me and wrote,

“I will be right back with the doctor so we can get some of this pain taken care of.”

      I smiled as one of the sharp pains shot through… more of a grimace, I guess. He walked out and I see him walk over to another slightly older man I presume to be the doctor. They briefly talk together and then walk over to my room, He picks up a pen and introduces himself by writing, “Hi I’m doctor X. I’m going to give you some pain medication and let’s get a scan and a urine sample.” I nod my head vigorously finally something is going to get done!

      As they walk out together, the young man waves and I smile and sign “thank you” to him. A nurse quickly walks in afterword and puts something into my i.v. As she pushed the medication, I feel a cool fluid rush through my veins and almost immediately after, relief, finally sweet relief. I breathe in deeply. For the first time since the pain has started, I can feel my abdominal muscles relax.

      After a while, they bring me back to the scan. I look through the window and there they are, the young man and the doctor. He waves but then looks back at the computer screen as the doctor points to something. They quickly get me into the large machine, and after a few minutes rolled me back out to the room.

      As I sat there and waited scrolling through my phone, both the doctor and the young man came back into the room. While the young man began writing the doctor began pulling something up on the computer. As the doctor turned the screen, I read what the young man had written.

      “We found the source of your pain was definitely a stone, unfortunately, it is too big to pass, so we need to have you see a specialist this morning.” I looked and saw it was nearly 4 am. I smiled and wrote back, “At least that’s not too long.”

      He let out a half smile and began writing down the name of a doctor and that they would try to keep me until close to the appointment to control my pain. I nodded and as he got up to leave, he said “Thank you for letting me help you today.” I grabbed his arm and wrote back “NO THANK YOU! :). You will make a great doctor.”

      Even below the mask, I could see what looked like the redness of a blush. At 7 am, my husband showed up with the car and quickly whisked me to my appointment.













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