Mr. J has been a patient of mine since I've been in practice. He's in his 80s, and he's one of my favorites (yes, doctors have favorite patients). For the last 4 years I've seen him monthly, not really because he needs it medically (let's hope the medicare fraud folks aren't reading my blog) but because he lives all by himself in a very physically remote area and no one checks up on him. Some months I think I'm the only person he sees.
He's had the dwindles for about 12 months, which I was hoping weren't going to get real exciting. Unfortunately, the dwindles turned into weakness and weight loss, and not unexpectedly, he was recently found to have metastatic cancer.
Due to my own family crisis, I've not been the point person on much of this, for which I've felt sorry. In fact, I've not physically seen him since he was diagnosed, tho I did speak with him on the phone a couple of times.
I saw him in the office today. We talked about his cancer, and his decision to not pursue any treatment, which I support. I talked to him about hospice care, and though he was reluctant, he agreed to getting established with them. We talked about his fears of pain and loss of independence, and I told him what I planned to do to help avoid those things.
When the visit was over, I asked for a hug. I helped him stand up, and as I hugged him I said, "I'm sorry that this is happening to you." I think I said it as much to Henry, and myself, as I did to him.
"It'll be alright," he answered.