This month I'm on my cardiology rotation. Mostly this means that I get to watch cardiac stress testing, something I will hopefully one day do in my own clinic. I also get to pal around with the 70-something year old gentleman cardiologist who still works here part time. Every day he shows me several echocardiograms that he has read.
My love for ultrasound technology just grows. Watching the way the heart moves as it is beating, watching valves open and close, monitoring the forward and backward flow across valves - it is just stinkin' cool. The mitral valve (which is the valve between the left atrium and the left ventricle) looks like someone with two very large lips singing at the top of their lungs as it opens and closes. The aortic valve has three parts, so when it closes it looks like a Mercedes symbol. I watched them do an echo through someone's esophagus yesterday (something they do to get a better look at the aortic valve and the left atrium) and we could even see the atherosclerotic plaques he had built up in his aorta. It was amazing.
What impresses me most so far, though, is that as we are looking at these echoes, Dr. Smith does not just talk to me about the pictures on the computer. He tells me a story about the patient. He tells about the first time they met, how he also took care of their mother, about the other things they have gone through, their jobs, their families. Even though he is a cardiologist, he truly see his patients as people. Not as a conglomeration of medical problems or a list of medicines. He sees them as a husband, a father, or a sister, people who love, live, and breath, are afraid, cry, get sick, and then one day pass on. He remembers that behind every Xray, every echo, every lab value is a person. He doesn't condemn them for their bad decisions or get annoyed that he has to take care of them when they are to blame for their health problems. He simply takes the best care of them that he can, in a kind, caring, and gentle way.
That is the kind of doctor I want to be.