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Opening abscesses and other deeply satisfying things…

A few days ago, my daughter came to me complaining that her toe was hurting.  She had been wearing dress shoes all day, and (of course) looked like the 7-year-old angel that she is.  But when I held her foot up, there was a little abscess on her toe.  Poor girl, Papa is an ER doctor.  And emergency physicians love pus!

So, with mother posing as nurse, and diabetic brother’s finger-stick lancet, we held up the affected foot and drained the pus, beneath which there lay a tiny splinter.

Daughter, beautiful as ever, has made a complete recovery…her beautiful toe as perfect as before.

However, thinking about all of it, I realized that life in general, and medicine in particular, both bring us many things, many moments, of extreme satisfaction.  So, here are a few of mine:

Obviously, and despite the inherent grossness, I love draining abscesses.  The reward is instantaneous, the patient’s relief incredible; the (equally disturbed) nurse smiles with delight.  Ah, pus.

Further medical satisfactions:

Shiny vocal cords, clearly seen, during intubation…clear breath sounds afterward.

The delight of an obvious appendicitis, with all the appropriate history and physical exam findings.  Rebound and heel-tap, Psoas sign, fever, anorexia and all the rest.  No CT necessary.  Magnificent.

A splinter removed.  A fish-hook removed.  A tooth-ache anesthetized.  A fracture splinted.  A wound closed evenly.  The return to normality of a terrifying EKG, after appropriate treatment.  The return of pulses after a brief cardiac arrest.  Heavenly gifts.

But in life?  A child’s hug, spontaneous, followed by ‘I love you Papa!’  A wife’s misty eyes, ‘I’m glad you’re mine…I’m proud of you.’  A patient’s words: ‘Thank you for your kindness, you made me feel less afraid.’  An editor’s words:  ‘well-done, beautiful column!’

A perfect hole in the center of the target. The way my children draw a bow and release their arrows…just the way I taught them.  A hip-throw in Aikido that actually works properly.  My son or daughter quoting Proverbs to me…just because it was relevant and they read it on their own.

The turn of phrase in a poem, written by me, for me.

The insight when I read the Scripture and say, in my heart of hearts, ‘I see, now I see!’  Rapture!
The warmth of my bed, by my wife’s side, at the end of the day.

Satisfaction abounds.  God is good.

Edwin

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Edwin

6 Comments

Carlos

2008-12-17 20:54:57 Reply

One more inmediate satisfaction: the sound of the air of a tension pneumothorax being drained.

Edwinlea

2008-12-17 22:50:43 Reply

Yes! A pneumonic symphony!

Edwin

mamadoc

2008-12-19 02:45:52 Reply

Not to mention a nice straight forward strep throat after a long day of multiple medical problems, depression, and “just one more thing, doctor.” Even influenza is pretty satisfying: they just want their tamiflu and their codeine and don’t want to tell you their life story….

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2010-08-07 17:25:41 Reply

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