I came into the office Friday a bit frazzled. I had dropped my car off at that garage at 4:45 (on my way to a 5:00 a.m. Crossfit class), and I had forgotten to get my parking pass out of the car. That meant I could not get into my assigned parking area in the garage. I realized this en route. I used Siri to text my nurse manager to see if she could validate a parking card (if I pulled one to go in the public part of the deck) because I knew I did not have enough cash in my wallet to get out!
It was also Super Bowl Friday, and the office was having a potluck. My staff had BEGGED me to make my famous white trash dip (yes, that's the name of it in my Southern Baptist Church cookbook) for the party. So, I had a 20 lb crockpot full of it with me! And, I had nowhere to park!
I finally found a space, trekked upstairs and got the crockpot deposited in the breakroom. I then ran back downstairs to pick up my coffee (that I had ordered en route with my Dunkin Donuts app). I jumped on the elevator to come back up and realized I was once again sharing the elevator with a patient. (At least this one was not puking!) This patient did, however, want to start the visit in the elevator! And, elevators are not HIPAA compliant! I just nodded my head and said, "Hmmm" several times until we could get to our floor. As the doors opened, I jumped off the elevator and told her I'd let her check in and see her in a few minutes. (I reallly need to stick to the stairs.)
After a long swig of coffee, I headed into the first room and saw a few patients, including the elevator one, back to back. As I waited for the next patient to be roomed, I ran into my office to get another swig and greet my PA. She was looking at her computer intently, wide-eyed and said to me: "Dr. Teague, I think you need to read this!"
Through our EMR messaging system, we had been notified that a patient seen earlier in the week was quite dissatisfied with my unwillingness to prescribe controlled substances. This patient had informed our behavioral health colleagues that I was "no use" and would be better off dead. Furthermore, he did have access to guns was willing to use them. Well, I have to say, after 15 years of practice, this was my first "death threat"!
The next few hours were consumed by my practice manager who had to notify building security who then made us file a report with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department. What an ordeal!
All the while, I'm trying to take care of patients, who are booked solid for 8 hours.
Midway through the day, I walked in to see a patient that I had not seen in over 2 years. He had reestablished care with our office a few days prior and had seen my partner. This visit was to follow up on significantly abnormal labs from that visit. From the labs and from our discussion, I realized he was an alcoholic, and his consumption was out of control. His kidneys and liver were screaming for help. His soul was as well.
He said he was ready for rehab. We prayed together, and we claimed the verse from Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.
My clinical staff then spent the next several hours trying to find a rehabilitation bed for this patient. Luckily, we found one, and he will be on the road to recovery soon. There were tears; there was joy; and there was hope.
I thought about the irony of contrasting the patient for whom we did not meet expectations and this one. Both have devastating addictions. One was just angry when I did not support the addiction. The other was thankful and ready when we confronted it. I cannot cure these addictions. But, I can point patients to the One who can.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can bear it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:13–14).
So, today was my first death threat. But, it won't be my last. All in a day's work!
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