My cardiologist: “the devil himself”

1 Jul

devil on brown paper

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Letters to the Editor, Victoria Times Colonist

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dress codes in hospital should respect patients’

Dear Editor,

In May, I had to stay in the Royal Jubilee Hospital cardiology ward. At that time they decided to do a cardio conversion. Then in walks the devil himself to do the task. He wore tight jeans, a shirt of some ungodly print and had curly hair hanging down past his bum. Not OK. I am a 66-year-old woman with a serious heart condition and I just wanted to get up and run.

Whatever happened to dress code? A white coat and clean hands gives a person a feeling of confidence. Is it some kind of infringement on these people’s rights? One seldom knows if they are talking to the janitor or head nurse. I feel I deserve better than that in the hospital.

Sincerely,

Mrs. M.A., Victoria, BC  Canada

Re: “Dress codes in hospital should respect patients,” letter, June 24.
I’m pretty sure that “the devil himself” — as the letter-writer described the doctor who helped her in cardiology wearing tight blue jeans, a “shirt of some ungodly print” and long curly hair — was the same cardiologist who saved my life a year ago.
Two weeks earlier, I’d been sent home from that same emergency department by an older, white-coat-wearing, officious, über-confident, old-school kind of physician whom your letter-writer would have certainly preferred.
This doctor did not introduce himself, did not make eye contact and made it clear that I was wasting his and his colleagues’ valuable time.
He told me with the absolute certainty and superior tone that I merely had acid reflux (despite presenting with textbook heart attack symptoms like crushing chest pain, sweating, nausea and pain radiating down my left arm).
Then he sent me home, feeling extremely embarrassed for having made a fuss over nothing, with instructions to go see my family doctor, who would prescribe antacids for my indigestion.
Fast forward two weeks of increasingly debilitating symptoms (but hey! at least I knew it wasn’t my heart!) until I finally presented myself again in emergency in extremely serious condition.
This time “the devil himself” was called in, and immediately administered a 30-second non-invasive cardiac assessment test (pressing firmly on my abdomen with both hands while observing my abnormal jugular vein pulse) before announcing that I had “significant heart disease.”
I was taken to the operating room immediately. Later, when three cardiology residents came to examine me as I lay recuperating, I learned they had all come to Victoria just to study under the cardiovascular mentorship of “the devil himself.”
I’ll take “the devil” any day. Perhaps patients with “serious heart conditions” like your letter-writer wouldn’t have such serious heart conditions in the first place if they lightened up a bit and learned to be gracious and grateful for the amazing care and expertise we have here in cardiology — “ungodly printed” shirts and all.
Carolyn Thomas
Oak Bay
© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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Letters to the Editor, Victoria Times Colonist

Friday, June 26, 2009

Re: ‘Dress codes in hospital should respect patients’,  6/24/09

Dear Editor,

I’m pretty sure that “the devil himself” — as the letter-writer described the doctor who helped her in cardiology wearing tight blue jeans, a “shirt of some ungodly print” and long curly hair — was the same wonderful cardiologist who saved my life a year ago.

Two weeks earlier, I’d been sent home from that same hospital’s Emergency Department by an older, white-coat-wearing, officious, über-confident, old-school kind of physician whom your letter-writer would have certainly preferred.

This white-coat clad doctor did not introduce himself to me, did not make eye contact, and made it clear that I was wasting his and his colleagues’ valuable time.

He told me with absolute certainty in a superior doctorly tone that I was in the “right demographic” for acid reflux (despite my presentation that day with textbook heart attack symptoms like central chest pain, sweating, nausea and pain radiating down my left arm).

Then I was sent home, feeling extremely embarrassed for having made a fuss over nothing, with instructions to go see my family doctor who would prescribe antacids for my indigestion.

Fast forward two weeks of increasingly debilitating symptoms (but hey! at least I knew it wasn’t my heart!) until I finally presented myself again in Emergency in very serious condition, no longer able to tolerate these unbearable physical symptoms.

This time “the devil himself” was called in, and immediately administered a 30-second non-invasive cardiac assessment test* (pressing on my abdomen with both hands while observing my abnormal jugular pulse) and reviewed my EKG and cardiac blood enzyme test resultsHis manner was kind, gentle, professional and caring – even as he told me that I had “significant heart disease”.

I was taken immediately from E.R. to O.R. for emergency cardiac treatment for what doctors still call the widowmaker heart attack.  Later, when three cardiology fellows from Sweden came to examine me as I recuperated in the Coronary Care Unit, I learned they had all come here to Canada just to study under the cardiovascular mentorship of “the devil himself”.

I’ll take “the devil” any day.

Perhaps patients with “serious heart conditions” like your letter-writer wouldn’t have such serious heart conditions in the first place if they lightened up a bit and learned to be gracious, tolerant and grateful for the amazing care and expertise we have here in cardiology — “ungodly printed” shirts and all.

Sincerely,

Carolyn Thomas, Victoria, BC  Canada

© Copyright 2009  The Victoria Times Colonist

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* The brief diagnostic procedure that my cardiologist performed is called an abdominojugular test (previously known as hepatojugular reflux). Jugular veins bring de-oxygenated blood from the head back to the heart. Healthy people undergoing an abdominojugular test will have a temporary increase in the internal jugular pulse for just a heartbeat or two before the venous pressure returns back to normal. But a skilled physician can observe in the sick patient’s earlobe pulse the characteristic double flicker of a sustained elevated jugular venous pressure –  a sign of active or impending heart failure.

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See also: Top 10 Tips On How To Treat Your Patients: An Open Letter To All Hospital Employees

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Q:  Do you have a great doctor who dresses unconventionally?

 


4 Responses to “My cardiologist: “the devil himself””

  1. Nurse Nancy November 29, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    Your cardiologist seems quite brilliant. The woman who wrote that ridiculous letter seems quite stupid.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. RN in NYC November 8, 2011 at 3:02 am #

    This explanation of the simple 30-second non-invasive hepatojugular reflux test is spot-on. Should be in the arsenal of ALL physicians working in Emergency Medicine.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Heart Chick February 7, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    The woman who wrote that letter is an idiot. LOVED your reply to her – I sure hope your wonderful cardiologist appreciated your attempts to set her straight.

    We heart patients tend to complain about our doctors over the smallest slight, I think we also need to shout it loud and clear when good doctors like your cardiologist are publicly attacked like this. That’s how the rest of the docs, like the white coat in the ER you met, will learn to smarten up, and that’s how we will help to educate patients as well, good for you for writing that letter to the editor.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Magic March 13, 2010 at 9:58 am #

    I think that the original complaining letter-to-the-editor writer has a toxic and close-minded worldview. No matter how you or anybody else responded to her or attempted to give her another perspective, you’d be wasting your time. Also, the way she states her age is as if she is a frail elderly senior and somehow this doctor was just too much to expect somebody of her frailty to bear! She needs a good swift kick. I sure loved your response to her!

    Liked by 1 person

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