The office with 1001 stories

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 57, No. 7, September 2015, Page 272 Editorials

“You will go into the wrong room,” my colleague stated. “No, I will not.”

“Yes you will.”

“Will not!”

“Will too!”

“Will not,” feeling a little like a third grader, I hesitated.

“Your exam rooms were across the hall from one another in the old office and now they are side by side,” my colleague explained. “Trust me, when the doors are closed you won’t remember which one you were in and you will go into the wrong one.”

Sure enough, on day one I burst into one of the rooms expecting to see an older, overweight diabetic male and instead was faced with a young lady in a vulnerable state of undress. At the same time we both exclaimed, “Aaahhh!” Not wanting to linger I muttered, “Oops, sorry, wrong room,” and left. Don’t worry, it’s okay, the College already has me on speed dial.

My colleagues and I had decided a move was in our future because we had outgrown our space. Since our lease was also coming due, the time seemed right for a two-block migration to a new and shiny office.

Moving day arrived, and as I wandered through the empty rooms of the old office, faced with bare walls and empty shelves, I wondered if I would miss this place. I had spent over 20 years of my working life moving across the hall from room seven to eight and back again. Staring at the vacated space I was flooded with memories of patients past and present. These recollections weren’t really about my old exam rooms but revolved around the stories told during thousands of patient encounters. What a privilege to have listened to the intimate details of my patients’ lives as we grew together through the years. It is this privilege that is the real gift of general practice. How special to be at an infant’s birth and then to watch with wonder as they learn and develop through life’s stages. What a blessing to build rapport with patients young and old, easing into a relationship of trust and guidance.

Admittedly, not all of these visits have been pleasant. Many of them have been filled with heartache and sorrow. Bad diagnoses and poor outcomes were discussed, often followed by despair, anger, and tears. Even then, what an honor to be so trusted that individuals feel safe baring their soul and exposing their heart to scrutiny.

I have been entrusted with the care of many extended families, and as I spent my last moments in my old office it was their faces that came to the forefront. I realized that when all is said and done, it won’t be the walls I remember but the people and their stories.

David R. Richardson, MD. The office with 1001 stories. BCMJ, Vol. 57, No. 7, September, 2015, Page(s) 272 - Editorials.

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