A Doctor's Journey Across Borders
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of New Mexico Press
Title Page: La Cl
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Stories that involve relationships between physicians and patients run the risk of either violating the privacy and confidentiality of the relationship or becoming so altered through efforts to disguise identities as to border on fiction. I have attempted to protect identities by changing names and altering characteristics while maintaining the ...
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I had the good fortune to be the recipient of help from many people during the development of this book. Frank Huylerâ€”first my student, then my colleague, and then my mentorâ€”provided invaluable advice and unswerving encouragement...
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We hoisted the bodies onto gurneys and cut the blood-drenched clothes from their heaving limbs, necks, and chestsâ€”John Does 1, 2, and 3, because we didnâ€™t know their names. Paramedics, holding bottles of clear intravenous fluid, described what happenedâ€”a gang fight with knives and baseball bats...
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My pen paused on the word pain "This is a seventy-five-year-old man with a chief complaint of chest pain.â€ť The pen drifted downward across the chart, as if it were a mountain climber sliding down a glacier, and finally dropped off into my lap causing me to startle, open my eyes, and realize I had fallen asleep...
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I slept for eight hours, and when I woke up I tried to remember what had happened before I went to sleep. Laura had been there, and we had talked about Mexicoâ€”about my going down to the village againâ€”and as I was trying to remember what we said about it, the phone rang...
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The recollection of that first day and night released many fragmentary memories: the sounds of hands slapping tortillas and the smell of the tortillas roasting over an open fire; the feel of a horse between my legs, running full out; a face of death staring up at me. I sat in a daze and let the images continue rather than think about the meetings and problems I would have to address at work the next ...
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The village was perched on a low bluff overlooking a river that drained part of the nearby Sierra Madre. Tiny hamlets of three or four adobe houses dotted the horse trails that led up out of the village, but the village itself was the end of the road.
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When you sleep all day, you wake up in the evening hungry and confused about what time it is and where you are. Thatâ€™s how I felt as I found myself in Albuquerque rather than Mexico, where and shuď¬„ed over to the refrigerator...
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As the darkness enveloped the house in Albuquerque, I decided to take a walk. The rooms seemed unfamiliar. Shadows and â€śShit!â€ť I shouted as I bumped into a stool and knocked it over...
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I felt a dull numbness in my head as I sate in my dim house in Albuquerque drinking beer after beer. But all the sweetness was gone from the beer...
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I didn't want to think about Mexico anymore. I grabbed the photo album to look at the pictures of my children...
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Carl's world included people who believe in powerful spirits that could cause illness or death and in the intervention of other opposing powers to cure illness. The clinic straddled the spirit world, with its witches, spells, and evil eyes, and another world where tiny microorganisms caused illness, and antibiotics could cure them...
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A few days after I had broken the witch spell, I had my most difficult case. Even today, it would be difficult, if not impossible. The woman in the house had tetanus...
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After an uneasy night of dreams and awakenings, I finally opened my eyes to the bright New Mexico sunlight sneaking through the shades. I had a full day scheduled in the office with meetings and faculty evaluations, and I needed to plan my trip to Mexico if I was really going...
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Every day, Deanna's brother Goyo would carry water from the river to the clinic to fill our containers. We used a lot of water to clean our tables and supplies and to give to the thirsty patients in the waiting room...
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The memory of that day in the clinic merged with my memory of the next day, and what I had had to do. It started the next morning as I sat in Rosaâ€™s kitchen waiting for Sopa vieja splattered in the cooking grease as I drank a cup of warm milk flavored with powdered coffee...
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The phone rang, snapping me out of my reverie. I looked at my watch as I answered and realized the residents were already waiting for me...
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Rick came back into the office, interrupting my thoughts. â€śTheyâ€™re waiting for you, all the young doctors, waiting for you to impart the wisdom of why to become a doctor."...
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"That was weird," said Rick. "You could be sued if you pulled teeth in this country.â€ś â€śYeah, well you can be sued just about anytime things donâ€™t turn out well. And that reminds me, the students and residents are waiting for my malpractice lecture,â€ť I said...
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â€śEl otro lado,â€ť the other side, was how people in the village referred to the United States. The term referred to the Rio Grande, which separates much of Mexico from the United States, but the other side also meant more...
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I sat in my office, my eyes passing over reports and memos and finally coming to rest on a stack of faculty evaluations that I needed to review before my meeting with each faculty member. The evaluation meeting was one of the most important parts of my job as chairman because it was the time that we made decisions about faculty goals and salary and figured out what had been accomplished over the past year...
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When I returned from Mexico, I entered medical school with both an advantage and a disadvantage over my classmates. My advantage was my familiarity with the diseases with long complicated names. I had seen cases of hepatitis and had treated a woman with tetanus, a baby with tuberculosis, and a musician with diabetic ketoacidosis...
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As a student at Stanford Medical School, I had the opportunity to observe faculty physicians, residents, and other medical students. I would sometimes hear the medical team tell jokes about a patient during hallway discussions, only to watch the team enter the patientâ€™s room with a false, exaggerated respectfulness...
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My thoughts about my days as a medical student and intern were interrupted when the phone rang. â€śHi,â€ť she said. â€śI just wanted to see how you were doing.â€ť...
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I had nightmares about my house. It had been bought by the television newsman and converted to a studio with actors and actresses. I woke up in the dark wondering where I was...
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My next encounter with the clinic occurred during a class that I took on international health. I had hoped it would give me perspective on my experience in Mexico, but later, as I watched the setting sun from my office, I realized that instead, the class had picked at my festering wound...
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The international-health class also led me back into contact with Carl. Some of the medical students whom I had met in the class wanted to invite Carl to be the medical school graduation speaker. He was becoming famous for his work at the clinic and the books he had written about it...
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A few months after my phone conversation with Carl, after a particularly frustrating resuscitation had failed, I ran into another person from our original group of La ClĂnica volunteers.The unsuccessful resuscitation was not the nurseâ€™s fault...
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The memory of Tony's visit made me smile. He had survived crises, failures, disasters of all kinds, and here he was â€”traveling, enjoying the world, selling sandals...
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As I was about to leave the office, there was a knock at the door. It was Rick. â€śYou still here?â€ť he asked...
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After Peggy Norman left, I finished looking at my mail, signed a few memos, and decided to go home. After I parked in my driveway and went into the house, I decided to go for a jog along the dirt trails near the river...
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"How was your trip?" Laura asked. â€śFine,â€ť I said. I had been back for only a day, and she had called to discuss the children...
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After I returned to Albuquerque, I resumed my work in the emergency department. Sometimes between patients I would ponder my visit...
Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2009
Series Title: Literature and Medicine Series
Series Editor Byline: Elizabeth Hadas, Frank Huyler, M.D., and David P. Sklar, M.D.