From the archives …
Tweet with us!
Sandra and I don’t watch a lot of network TV. I like sports and things, and Sandra likes what we call cheesy movies (whatever!). But the one show I do look forward to watching is Fox’s House. Hugh Laurie’s character is very intriguing to me. It’s like Dr. Gregory House is a composite of all the physicians that I have worked with over the years. I’ve known arrogant and brilliant docs with the bedside manner of a really ticked off rattlesnake. I’ve known doctors whose warmth and caring sometimes provides cover for perhaps a slight lack of skill. I’ve known physicians, nurses, and others with family problems, with substance abuse problems – you know, the human stuff. But in my years of working side by side with medical staff, probably the first question I’ve been asked by patients and families in crisis has been “can I trust Dr. Fill-In-The-Blank?”.
I think the reason I like watching the show is because the character of Dr. House is a physician that that I feel I could say yes to that question for both others and myself. It’s not just that he solves the most intricate medical diagnoses that the writers find for the weekly topic. It’s not just that the more you watch him, you find there is a very vulnerable human being under the sarcasm and somewhat sociopathic behavior. All that is good. But the key to me is that inspite of his acting out and his own genius he surrounds himself with a team. He does not take a lone ranger approach to medicine. He realizes as he challenges his colleagues, that they challenge him as well. And as his whiteboard fills with the results of differential diagnosis discussion, the process proves to be one that is trusted.
When all the acute stuff was going on with me we had some good experiences with those taking care of me, and also some not-so-good. And it soon became clear that when the not-so-good occured, it was because someone providing my care did not play nicely with others. When we were transferred to the Tampa General Liver Transplant Team, I will just state our experience with them was all good. We found immediately that they not only meant the liver transplant part, but the team part as well. And we were not only invited but required to be the center part of that team. Even during the scariest times for both Sandra and me, we found an unspeakable amount of comfort in knowing that we were surrounded by physicians, coordinators, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, social workers, chaplains and others that we trusted.
So, one of the tough parts of deciding to move to Nashville was leaving “my” team and the security they represented for us behind. The Tampa General folks did a great job of assuring us that the program at Vanderbilt was excellent. Even so, I did think to myself what else are they going to say? My records and history were shared between the programs and before we left Florida the Vanderbilt Clinic had already called with an appointment time for me.
The day of that appointment came, and I was very surprised about how nervous I was. I actually did not sleep well the night before. What if I didn’t like this new doctor? What if he was the bad side of Dr. House? And what was the coordinator program going to be like? Tampa General is a big place, but Vanderbilt, for some reason just looked bigger – would I get the attention when I needed it? Will I be able to trust these people?
Well, the good news is Vanderbilt has so far been great. We met my coordinator first who thoroughly reviewed me with us, and told us about their program. Then the doctor came in. He was great. He listened first, and responded second. He was very friendly and an obvious professional. You can be sure I did some research both on the Vanderbilt Transplant Program overall and this physician specifically – I knew the credentials. But as importantly, by the end of our visit, I felt not only could I trust this new team, but I already did trust them.
So based on all of my experiences on both sides of the patient/family coin, I offer Dave’s Dozen Things to Look for in Your Transplant Team: