Imagine a 75-year-old man at a new-patient appointment with a young physician. The patient is meticulously dressed and groomed, and he walks somewhat awkwardly with a cane. His medical history is significant for a fall five months earlier that resulted in two fractures of his pelvis. The fractures are healing nicely, but he now needs help with a problem that developed as a consequence of his treatment.
Stop for a moment and describe the image of this patient conjured in your mind. Now read the short story, Confessions of a 75-year-old Drug Addict and see how your image changes, if at all.
The sentence that pops out for me is this: "[W]hat about the doctor-patient communications that never happened, but that might have made things turn out differently?"
Highlighting the problem of elderly patients unwittingly becoming addicted to prescription pain medication is a first step toward preventing this serious, heartbreaking problem.
If you enjoyed the story, consider subscribing to Pulse -- Voices from the Heart of Medicine. This is a fairly new "online magazine that uses stories and poems from patients and health care professionals to talk honestly about giving and receiving medical care."
Like this blog on Healthy Survivorship, Pulse is a vehicle for all of us on both sides of the stethoscope to explore our common wish for a humane system of health for all.