Tag Archives: Physicians

Answering The Unasked Questions

Death sucks.

Yes, I realize that I am courting the obvious there, but I thought we needed to restate where we stand on the issue. Sure there are some occasions, some deaths, where the cessation of breathing is cause for celebration and I would not try to argue that.

For the most part, though, people who die don’t want to die.

Again, blindingly obvious, but stick with me. I do have a purpose to this.

See, we as civilians only have to deal with death on a fairly irregular basis. It’s not like we see it every day as part of our job. Because we, as civilians, are not doctors.

Shara Yurkiewicz is a fourth-year medical student at Harvard Medical School where she’s learning what it takes to become a physician. She’s taking classes about anatomy, about chemistry, about diagnosis of disease and all of that.

However, it’s what she’s going to learn outside of the classroom that will determine how good of a doctor she becomes. My wife, known to many as She Who Must Be Our Best Chance, also is a doctor. She’s an OB/GYN and she’s one of the best doctors I’ve ever met. Not only is she a dedicated physician, who continues her medical education every day, but she’s also got a tremendous stirrup-side manner. She connects with her patients as people, as sometimes friends.

And patients appreciate that. She didn’t learn that in a classroom, but it’s a big part of why she’s such a great doctor. Shara Yurkiewicz has plenty of time to work on her bedside manner, but, right now, she’s still learning some powerful lessons.

Thankfully, she shares a lot of those lessons with readers of her Scientific American blog “This May Hurt A Bit,” which follows her trials and tribulations as a medical student.

In a recent column, Ms. Yrukiewicz transcribes a conversation she Diversity can be accomplished with tiny, little steps and it's not all that hard, now, is it?had with a patient following his hip-fracture repair. It offers we civilians a gripping view inside the real-world learning medical students must go through to become effective doctors.

She thanks the patient for allowing her, a medical student, to watch as the surgeons worked to fix his hip. It’s a relatively bland conversation and I began to wonder why it was in her blog. Until we neared the middle and things — through no one’s fault — began to go downhill.

Very badly downhill.

I watched as they kept your eyes shut and handled your body just as gently as they had a few hours ago.

I listened to the final zip of the body bag. I don’t know who had the time to switch off the radio, but I’m glad they did.

I listened as the nurse asked God to rest your soul.

I watched you leave in a different kind of bed, to a different place. I’m not sure where.

You can learn a lot from watching. Thank you for letting me watch.

We fixed your hip, sir.

The operation was a success, but the patient died. It’s not an oxymoron, but a notice that physicians must understand the different values for success.

To become a good doctor, medical students need to understand that patients are not simply a presentation of diseases and symptoms. They are people, with lives and loves and desires all their own.

What Ms. Yrukiewicz doesn’t mention in her post is the next most important lesson a good doctor must learn: How to learn everything you can about what happened so it doesn’t happen again and then move on to the next patient, fully confident that the surgery will be a success and the patient will survive.

Her blog provides an interesting look into the world of student physicians. I’d recommend you dudes and dudettes go and give it a read. It’s always interesting to learn what the person on the other side of the white lab coat is thinking.

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Happy Birthday, Dad!

From one Richard Jones to another, Happy Birthday.

It’s an important day for me to celebrate, because without him getting borned, I sure wouldn’t be here at the keyboard blathering away at you dudes.

I’ve said it before and probably will again, but it is something that bears repeating: My dad is a good dude.*

He’s generous to a fault, with his time, his money and his experience.

He’s the only person I know who can whip my butt in trivia, no matter how annoying that happens to be. And it is very annoying.

Dad’s example drove me to try and get better, even if it was only so I could beat him in a game of H.O.R.S.E. or one-on-one basketball.

I’m not saying he’s perfect. Not by a long shot.

However, his good points far outweigh his bad.

A world-class orthopedic surgeon, Dad’s since retired and closed his practice, but he’s still spending his time giving folks their lives back. In addition to traveling the world to teach other doctors how to do procedures, he also takes time to fly to poor nations and work with other similarly-minded physicians to provide surgical interventions to people who otherwise would never see the inside of an operating theater and who might never be able to walk without them.

So, while I’m wishing him a happy birthday, I also wanted to thank my dad for all the good things he’s done, the good things he’s doing now and all the good he’ll do in the future.

Footnotes & Errata

* Even if he does seem to harbor some resentment for a certain wooden railing at the St. Augustin Alligator Farm and a particular laughing red macaw.

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Doo The Right Thing

by Richard

I’m taking a break from talking about your brain on love to talk about a brain I love. Yeah, that’s right. It’s time to celebrate another birthday. This time, it’s my namesake, my pater, my dad, the last man in the Jones line to have some play on a slang word for penis as his nickname. Well, his intentional nickname.

(His grandkids all call him Dickey Doo [because he says he’s too young to be a grandfather.] and even that’s going to fade with him. Even though he’s an awesome granddad, I have the feeling no one’s going to want to call themselves that nickname once he gives it up.)

Dickey Jones is a pretty amazing dude when I stop to think about it.

When I was growing up, he was just my dad; the guy who worked late, liked to run around in tight jogging shorts for no reason and who introduced me to the joy that is the Hawaiian shirt.

I had no idea this dude was a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon, one of the most respected teacher/physicians in the country, an inventor, a former major-college football player and track star, a valued scientific researcher and a wanna-be hippy. Okay, that last part I did know. Far too well. But the other stuff was a mystery to me until I got older.

We haven’t always gotten along well. Being a father, he suffered a near-terminal diminishment of intelligence when I was between the ages of 15 and 25, but he managed to survive. No matter what was going on between us, though, my dad always approached things with a calm joy that has come to characterize his life.

Dad is a man who enjoys the finer things in life. One of his greatest joys, though, isn’t keeping that fine thing to himself, but sharing it with others, people who might not have a chance to experience something like that. He and his wife are major parishioners at a Catholic church in Dallas where most of the people attending are at or below the poverty line. They have offered a hand out to many of the people there just because they can.

That’s as good a definition of good Christian as I’ve ever heard. And it’s describing someone who used to describe himself as beyond gods and devils. That was during the ego years back in the early 1970s. I blame the drugs. No, not ones he took, ones others took and led them to believe just about anything said with a modicum of passion and coherence.

He gave me a lot of things. My love of argument came from him and my mom, as did my love of reading. They taught me to always stand up for those who can’t stand for themselves and never let anyone do without if you can help them.

I’m proud to call this dude my dad.

Happy birthday, Dad.

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