When you see 20-25 patients daily 5 days a week, it's difficult to expend a lot of emotional energy on each visit. Actually, it's impossible. Fortunately, you don't need to plumb the depths of compassion for each URI. However, some patients really touch you deeply. It's unpredictable who that's going to be, and it seems to happen for a variety of reasons.
Today, though, it happened for quite an obvious reason. I'm turning 34 this week. I met a new patient, age 37, with a lump in her breast.
I haven't felt too many suspicious lumps on my career, I guess cause I'm a young'un. The ones I have felt have been quite large, quite obvious, not much left to the imagination. This one was more subtle, less than a centimeter, but quite firm.
The patient knew what was up. She was there because she had found it, and she knew the implications. All I had to offer her was expeditious workup, there would be no words of reassurance. She's getting a mammogram tomorrow, and sees the breast surgeon 2 hours later, so conceivably could be biopsied then.
She blinked back tears, as I would have.
I will worry till I get her report, but not as much as she will.