Friday, September 2, 2011

Tales from Residency: Walkers a deux

Some people who do musculoskeletal medicine deal with young, fit athletes. But at the VA during my residency, most of the patients we saw in musculoskeletal clinic were elderly people. With back pain.

I remember I had a patient once who was kind of typical: an elderly man who was hard of hearing who came in with a walker. Except he also came with his wife, who ALSO had a walker. I brought the two of them to the examining room, which took about 20 minutes because they were both SO slow with those walkers.

Finally, finally, the man got to the examining room, but his wife seemed to be lagging behind. I checked the hallway and saw that the holdup was that she was weighing herself on one of the scales we have out there. No hurry, just take your time.

It was a follow-up visit, but the man had no idea why he was there. As usual. It took me asking the question about three times for him to even understand what I was saying. Then he thought about it and said, "All my joints hurt."

Then the wife, who wasn't the patient, said, "All my joints hurt too."

I tried to have a bit of a sense of humor about it. When I told my attending about them, I said, "It was awful. The two of them both came with walkers. I had to put them in the big room."

"They both came with walkers?" my attending asked in surprise. "That's unusual. Most of the time they both come with scooters."

1 comment:

  1. I had to laugh at this one (not a good thing to do in anatomy class) but it reminded me of my pre-op physical at the local VA here.

    I'm mid-twenties; I had to have surgery on my hip but the doctor made it very clear she was not used to seeing "kids" under sixty. She asked about falls (No, I don't fall much) and started to say "Have you ever had a stroke or heart- wait, no. You're a kid, nevermind. Your EKG is fine, you're good to go."