“It’s got nothing to do with your pacer! “ I said, barely containing my exasperation.
It was one of those days where by the time I met this patient, I had “used up” my patience and empathy. I had explained my diagnostic impression a few times already in what I felt was a reassuring and confident manner. To no avail, it seemed.
Then, a little while later, the nurse called me to the bedside. “Something’s not right. Her pulse is really low and the pacer spikes aren’t capturing.” Oh, geez. Really? As I stared figuratively red-faced at the monitor, I sensed deep down that this is going to turn out to be another one of my regular servings of humble pie. Coming right up. Served by a sweet, but highly anxious senior citizen. “It’s all right, Doctor,” she said. “You have been so nice and you are really smart. But, I felt something was wrong as soon as they put the pacer in.”
One of the dangers of being a competent and intelligent physician is exactly this: over-confidence. Emotional and intellectual fatigue sneaks up on you which results in trusting in yourself too much. Has that ever happened to you? Haughtiness comes before disaster, but humility before honor. Proverbs 18:12. I believe the lesson I was being taught – again – was humility. It was difficult to swallow my pride and humbly acknowledge to my patient my erroneous diagnostic impression. I was certain, though, that just like any good work, becoming humble is through practice. I was being given yet another opportunity to do just that. I took it because I love the Lord and wanted to participate in what He is doing inside of me. A gracious understanding patient was just a bonus.