Saturday, December 15, 2012

Day 182 - palliative care

On the other six month anniversary (June 15 to Dec 15), I pretty much just had a nice time. This morning Kate, Terry and I took one of her dogs and Maggie out for a walk at her family's Christmas tree farm. It was nice weather, nice company and nice dogs. We had a good time. A while later, after a little bit of general hanging around, Emily and I went out to get our Christmas tree. A little more general hanging around and then it was dinner time. Tommie took us to Blue Moon to celebrate her art show being successful--yum--and then home to decorate the tree. Not much to the day, but quiet fun.

Sunday, Monday and then my first half day back at work. I will go back to Home, Health and Hospice first and the work I do there will be the same as before I got sick.

I have not been able to talk about what work I will be doing at Dartmouth until now, so let me do that. After a lot of thought, I have decided to stop being a primary care doctor and instead to help Dartmouth start an outpatient palliative care clinic in Manch. I have loved being a primary care doctor so much and am really sad at not being able to do it any more, however I can't do both and right now I feel palliative care is calling. Some of my patients have been with me all eight years I've been in New Hampshire and I have been through big stuff with most of my patients by now. They are attached to me and I, to them. I will miss them very much. I do feel, however, that a palliative care clinic will be a tremendously helpful thing to have in Manchester and I am thrilled that I get to help start one. I think there are a lot of patients we can help in such a clinic and thinking about that mission helps me feel a little less sad about my clinic patients.

We sent a letter to my patients last week. Dartmouth had not told my patients why I was out so I told them I had leukemia, chemo, etc. ; I was sure they would like to know. I also told them I was starting a palliative care clinic and that I would not be able to do both palliative and primary care, that I would miss them and tried to explain why I felt it was important for me to be doing a palliative care clinic. I was expecting to get some negative feedback from some of my patients, but it has not materialized. I got my first patient feedback today in the form of a Christmas card from a patient who said she was shocked to find out why I had been out and was hoping for the best health for me and then continued to say some embarrassingly nice things about me. Once again, I am blown away by the kindness and good spiritedness of my patients. I have been and continue to be extremely fortunate.

My wish for me for tonight is that my good luck continues. For you I wish for similar good fortune.

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