The first pitfall of a first impression

This is new. I have decided to talk about something even if I can’t make sense of anything.

It happened today during work. I was held up by some unfortunate turn of events before I could actually get to do my rounds and my ever reliable house officers told me about a certain ill patient. This is where the fun starts.

The so called patient ( Mr X is so cliche so lets call him Hercules although he looks nothing like a Greek demigod!), came in with severe chest infection. He was in septicemic shock (to the non medical’s reading this it means the infection has pretty much booked him a place in the afterlife) and with Type 1 respiratory failure (which means one foot is already there).

He was unkempt, thin and haggard and looked very ill and worst of all…. he was all alone. I found out that he was brought from a nursing home where he was left in their care about a week ago. His clinical condition along with all the tests we have run so far did not look good. He was 70 and in my eyes was suffering. It would have been easy to let go and tell yourself that ‘going all out’ is only going to add on to his suffering. Something told me to give this poor bugger a chance. I am glad I did.

At that time I  can only think of the worst possible curses for Hercules’s children ( I found out that he had a bunch and none of them were there). One of them involved a pickaxe and his child’s head. Go figure…

To the non medicals reading this I would like to explain a few things as I am so used to comments from my ‘muggle’ friends that when we ‘doctors’ get into the groove we forget the existence of others. It is customary to not pursue active resuscitation in certain patients, among others involving the bedridden (as i heard was Hercules’s state since he was in nursing care), those with poor social support and patients with advanced or irreversible illness. Having said that being old is not a prerequisite to die! I have seen people more than twice my age living a healthier and fuller life than I have ever had (I BLAME THE MEDICAL PROFFESION!)

I wont go into the details of how we stabilized and brought him back from the near clutches of death. Needless to say that as his condition improved within the hour I felt a sense of dread. Have I done the right thing? Am I just prolonging his suffering? Does he deserve this? Where is he going to go now if he gets better? Its more expensive to care for an ill patient in a nursing home than caring for just a senile old man. What about the children? Where the hell are they?

As these distorted thoughts were entering my mind, a young lady approached Mr. Hercules. She held his hand and stroked it with tenderness that can only be born out of love. He eyes shone with tears as she called out to him. Hercules started to look and behave like Hercules! His condition improved by the afternoon and as I am writing this post we are weaning off the medications that supports his blood pressure. Before noon all his children were there and were very keen to know about his condition and progress albeit nothing I told them was particularly a ray of sunshine!

I found out from them that they all chipped in and sent Hercules to the nursing care so that he can be better taken care of. They also take turns to care for their sick mother who until recently requires all their care and attention. They did not want the father to feel neglected at home so they thought he would enjoy the company of people his own age for a while till their mother recuperates. They have not seen him this past week and are blaming themselves for their father’s health.

At this point I felt the pickaxe was better suited for my head.

Fast forward, I realised the essence of my ‘ near fatal mistake’. Had I left it to first impression and denied my gut instinct this would have been a different post. It would have been ‘oh i had a crappy day’ or ‘why does this always happen to me’ (similiar to certain ‘personalities’ updating even their bowel movements on facebook!)

The first pitfall of a first impression is the impression itself. I learnt that today and luckily not the hard way. Dont be generous with your judgement. As corny as it sounds…follow your heart. Gosh…I believe this is making sense after all!

Hercules…you made my day. It is an honour to have met you.Cheers…

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3 responses to “The first pitfall of a first impression

  1. Yes , Dr. Raj, Our Pitfalls in life: We are too quick to Judge!! Actually it happens daily in most of our lives, But u have actually voiced it out in public , that puts u above many.. We all make mistakes , but its how fast we realise our mistakes and get ourselves enlightened by it.. a good reading on a saturday morning.. Thank u!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I came to know your blog and read them all. You are a gifted writer. I work in ED past 17 years and what you wrote in your blog is every day business in my ED. I enjoyed it …..

    Liked by 1 person

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