Disease doesn’t know it’s the holiday season.

Breaking news!  The Apocalypse didn’t happen!

Ah… just when you thought you’d heard the last from me in 2012.  But alas, I return with some further thoughts – lucky you!

Part of me hates the holiday season.  Why? you may ask.  Well, it seems that disease decides to rear its ugly head during the most inopportune time.

I remember the case of a 50-something year old woman several years ago who came in to the walk-in-clinic I was working at on December 20. She didn’t have a family doctor, in fact, hadn’t seen a doctor in many years.  She was complaining of abdominal pain and fatigue, which she said was new but on further questioning she admitted she hadn’t been feeling well for months.  Her family finally made her come to the clinic because she was looking yellow.  Indeed, she was jaundice and upon examination of her abdomen, I felt a mass near her stomach.   An abdominal ultrasound later that day revealed a large tumor of the pancreas.  Her blood work was very abnormal.  I referred her to the local hospital, where she was admitted and died 2 weeks later.

A few years ago, around December 19, I received a very abnormal prenatal ultrasound report.  The patient was already aware as the result had gone to her OB first, and by the time I called her, she had the amniocentesis which revealed a lethal chromosomal anomaly.  On December 23, she delivered her daughter and spent the rest of the holidays mourning the loss.  A year later, almost to the day, a healthy, bouncing baby boy was born.  (This one kind of had a happy ending, sort of.)

This week, I have had to tell two women that they are going to miscarry.

And now, my thoughts are occupied with a young woman, my age, whom I suspect has thyroid cancer.  I am working my ass off today to get her an appointment with a surgeon, before the end of this year.  Why does this shit go down days before a holiday?!  WHY?!  I don’t want to be responsible for ruining someone’s holiday, or worse yet, starting someone’s New Year with news of cancer?  This is the part of my job that truly sucks.

Why can’t disease wait for January?

2 thoughts on “Disease doesn’t know it’s the holiday season.

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