Happy first day of August! Lots of friends celebrating birthdays today: Kim, Maureen, Laura, Murilo, Steve and others I am sure. Happy birthday!
My buddy Chris is the father of three kids. When his wife needed to go out of town for the weekend I got the call. “Hey man, would you like to go up to Long Beach Island, NJ to my mother-in-law’s beach house with me and the kids?” I agreed, but then something came up and the beach house was not available that weekend so I got a second call. “The beach house isn’t going to work out, but, listen, my wife is going to be out of town and I really could use your help with the kids.” So, we spent the weekend in the sprawling paradise of West Friendship, MD. We had a great time and I love his kids. I learned that I pretty much suck at the Wii. His five and seven-year-old destroyed me in almost every game, especially Super Mario Brothers. The only thing I could beat those guys at was ice skating and bowling! I know, I’m pretty pathetic.
Anyway, on Saturday we took them over to the pool. I didn’t think I was going to get that many opportunities to engage with other humans out in the metropolis of West Friendship, so I decided to see who I found cooling off by the pool that day.
After playing with Nick and Dylan for a while in the main pool, I headed over to check on Chris who was watching Avery in the baby pool. That’s where I found Linda.
Actually I walked up to her husband first. He was feeding one of their boys when I asked if he would participate. He skillfully pawned me off to his wife who was reading her kindle and listening to music as she sunbathed poolside. I felt kind of bad. Imagine being the mother of two and finally getting a few moments of absolute bliss where you were relaxed, reading your book, listening to some tunes…..ah, life is good. And then some weird guy wants to talk to you….yep, that’s me. It could have been worse though. My buddy Chris could have talked to them!
Anyway, so Linda is a thoracic surgeon. As the name implies, this is surgery related to the treatment of diseases affecting organs inside the thorax (the chest) such as the lungs, chest wall, and diaphragm. She pursued this area of specialty after participating in a surgery rotation during medical school. She really likes anatomy and the idea of fixing things. It also seems like one of the more manageable fields of work in surgery as most of the procedures are scheduled allowing the physician to have a somewhat normal work-life balance. Sometimes you hear crazy stories of doctors being summoned at all hours of the night on a regular basis. Or ER doctors who don’t sleep for 36 hours. Anyway, sometimes she gets woken up in the middle of the night too, but not as much as some others she tells me.
One time she got a call around 3am and was asked to come in to take a look at a stab wound victim. Although she really didn’t think that her expertise was necessary given the other medical staff that was on hand, she got out of bed and hurried in to the hospital to help the patient. As it turns out the man had several punctures in his organs. As they operated on him she discovered that he had a hole in his heart that ended up splitting open. Had this have happened before they got him on the operating table he would have died for sure she told me.
I couldn’t suppress the urge to ask about a few other interesting cases that she has seen. Dr. Linda shared with me the story of a young woman who came to see her a few months ago with some severe problems not being able to keep food down. It turned out that the sphincter muscle between the esophagus and the stomach was too tight and she had to go in and cut it in such a way to release the tension. She had been battling this problem for a long time. In fact, when she was younger doctors thought she might be bulimic, but she was not.
Another case Dr. Linda told me about was an 89-year-old patient who went to their dentist for some dental work. Apparently the dentist dropped the tiny drill bit he was using and the patient swallowed it. The patient went home but started coughing all night long. He called his dentist and the dentist felt so bad that he went with the patient to the hospital in the middle of the night and she removed the drill bit which was lodged in the lung.
Dr. Linda told me that she and her husband, who happens to be a cardiologist, were going to have a rare date night that evening and were going to the movies. “I think we’ll use the $10 and treat ourselves to a popcorn and a drink tonight,” she told me. I’m not sure the $10 will cover that, movie theater food is one of the most overpriced items in our country.
I thanked them for letting me invade their quiet afternoon by the pool and went back to the chaos that awaited me with Chris’ kids.