Tales From All The Comforts of Home Hospital~ Edition 8*

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Sarah Underkofler (she/her/hers), Editor

If you missed part 7, click here!

*This story is a creative interpretation of all real events. Names and locations have been changed to maintain privacy.

 

Karma is a wonderful thing– on occasion. It can be so relieving when something finally happens to that one person who treads along all the wrong nerves in your body, but as we all know, karma can, and will, bite you in the butt.
How long has this whole COVID global pandemic been going on for? Roughly 2 years? Yeah, you would think with 2 years of experience under our belt the human population would be pros at this, but nope, you would be wrong. Before I get into this mind-boggling story, I just want to make it clear that there are more kinds of medicine in this world than modern western medicine, and despite being a doctor (in training) in modern medicine, I do believe practices such as alternative and traditional medicine all have their place and uses in life today. That being said…
The ER was overflowing with COVID patients today, which these days is not uncommon, but as I was informing this middle-aged, COVID infested, brick head of a man as to why he had to wear a mask inside of a hospital, Becca came sprinting full speed into the waiting area.
“Michelle, Dr. Ruse wants you in the ICU. Fair warning, try to keep your cool.”
Great. Because all “good things” end with “keep your cool.” I leave mister brick head to battle it out with Becca (good luck to him, no one ever wins an argument against Becca), and jog on down to the ICU to meet Dr. Eileyn Ruse, the current attending. Dr. Ruse meets me outside the looming 8 foot double doors. Apparently, this story needs telling privately away from the patient.
“Michelle. Before I tell you anything about the patient, I need you to promise me you won’t say a word to her. Remember your Oath.”
“Okay. You have my word” I hesitantly reply. This must be a real kicker.
“Good. Through those doors right now lays female, 43-year-old, Dianne Kinnter. She came in a week and a half ago for COVID correct?”
“Yes, I distinctly remember her case not being too bad and then having a conversation with her about vaccines and preventative measures. What happened? Why is she back?”
“Well, apparently after you discharged her that day, she went to see her holistic doctor. This holistic doctor of hers sent her home with a prescription for Ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, and azithromycin. Now you know I’m all for alternative medicine, but sending a mild COVID case home with an animal parasite medication, a lupus and rheumatoid arthritis med, and an antibiotic FOR A VIRUS is outrageous. Because of these prescriptions, Ms. Kinnter’s previously easily treatable “bed-rest and drink water” COVID has now turned into ventilation, and most likely she will die within the next couple of days.”
I stood there in stunned silence, unable to bring words or even thoughts to mind. I think Dr. Ruse saw my disbelief and followed up with, “We have already contacted Ms. Kinnter’s primary care to confirm that the holistic doctor visit was not approved by her primary care physician, and are planning on reporting him (the holistic doctor) to the Board of Registration in Medicine (BORIM) to possibly get his medical license revoked.”
I continued to stand there, unmoving, just staring slack-jawed at Dr. Ruse.
“I’ll give you a minute to process” she stated calmly. “Remember the Oath.” She whipped her head around, and with slight hesitation, pushed her way back through those dooming double doors.
The oath. That damn oath I took at my white coat ceremony the first year. The oath I took when I swore to “primum non nocere.” First do no harm. The oath I took to treat any patient, no matter their background, beliefs, or choices, who comes my way with the best care possible. No matter what. No matter if they don’t believe in this world of modern medicine. No matter if they ignore previous advice that would’ve saved their life, and no matter if they come stumbling back after previous care. While “karma’s a bitch,” I didn’t feel the usual accompaniment of relief– that satisfaction from knowing what you did was right despite their doubts.
I feel betrayed.
I felt betrayed by the fact that Ms. Kinnter didn’t trust my medical advice enough that she felt she had to go elsewhere looking for alternate solutions. I felt betrayed that she thought I didn’t give her “the best care possible,” that I wasn’t enough for her. But, somewhere in my consciousness, I also felt pity. I pitied Ms. Kinnter because she trusted her gut to tell her to look out for herself by searching for more care and was instead received by some uneducated idiot that led her to her death bed. She was going to die for his mistakes. No one, regardless of the choices they’ve made, deserves that ending.
These contrasting emotions pulled back in forth inside of me, each one attempting to take total control.
“She should’ve listened to you.”
“She didn’t know better.”
Each one tugged, yanking at my conscience. Each one struggling. I took a deep breath in, the air rushing through my lungs, pushing the battle aside. I swallowed the lump in my throat, my pride, pressed my hands against those damn double doors, and walked through.