"I don't just read Pulse, I adore it." --Donald Berwick MD
A Last Mother's Day
Thuy D. Bui
“What’s my number?” shouted Betsy as I entered the examination room one day last fall.
“Oh, you mean your A1C? It’s nine-point-four!” I answered. A sentence sped through my mind: "The hemoglobin A1C number tells how well a patient’s diabetes is controlled--seven or less is good." In my seven years as Betsy's primary-care doctor, I've repeated this information at visits and included it in appointment reminders as well.
Betsy is a pale, stocky woman in her sixties, with short, neatly cropped hair. Her rather tentative smile, to me, always seemed a bit forced, as if covering up for underlying pain. And she's had plenty of pain in her life.
In 2002, I was living in Albuquerque and working as a nursing assistant. My staffing agency had assigned me to a medical surgical floor at a hospital in Santa Fe, a fifty-minute drive away.
One day, as I was enjoying the high-desert beauty en route to the hospital, a code was called.
The patient's name was Sam, as I recall. It could have been anything, but Sam is the name that echoes in my memories of that day.
His heart stopped.
I hadn't arrived at the hospital yet, but I had been involved in enough codes to know what had been done.
Despite his advanced age, Sam had full-code status with no restrictions, meaning that he or his family had wanted everything possible done to save his life.
a treasury of compelling stories and poems.
Includes The Resilient Heart , Babel: The Voices of a Medical Trauma and Confessions of a Seventy-Five-Year-Old Drug Addict. Foreword by Maureen Bisognano, President of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
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