Denim Day: A fight against breast cancer

This is to document our surgical clinic's participation in the fight against breast cancer by supporting Lee National Denim Day on Friday, October 6. Give $5, wear denim and a pink bow lapel pin to work, and support the Entertainment Industry Foundation's Women's Cancer Programs.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Zen Thing

Good news: They like the "Guess Who" flyer. We collected over $100 today. The physical therapists came through. I thought they would. They're salt of the earth.

Patients are noticing the posters of Pierce. At first they think we're Pierce-crazy. Then they find out about the fundraiser. A few have donated, we've even started an "In Honor of" and "In memory" spot in the office. Little pink slips of paper surrounding a poster of you-know-who.

Yesterday was like so many days for us, though we realize that when a patient walks through the door, it's all new to them. A new patient with a breast mass arrived early. The only problem was that she should've been at her ultrasound appointment just then. She called the radiologist, and they weren't very nice about her missed appointment. The patient looked frazzled and ready to cry. We told her not to worry, that the doctor could work around not having the ultrasound right now. Besides, we can order one STAT. Go shopping, we told her, relax, come back when it's the right time.

All new consults experience confusion, forgetfulness and anxiety. It's normal and we expect it. It's why we've turned our lobby into "the zen thing." Soft colors, wicker chairs, lamps, and soothing music. Sometimes we put in a guided meditation CD. Twenty minutes later, the entire lobby is sleeping. If we had the money, there'd be a plasma TV, showing scenery of nature, or even movies with Fred Astaire. Everything is geared to help people feel less anxious.

We also try to lighten their mood. Often we'll shout out to a patient, "Hey... how ya doin?" as we stride in to tell them why-the-doctor-is-running late, or we'll pass around a box of chocolates. It catches them off-guard, but it's who we are, though we forget this is non-standard in a medical practice. But things are different here. Patients have called our waiting area "the living room," another has said it's a practice straight out of a Robert Altman movie.

Here's a typical day: a full clinic, our kids hanging pictures or playing Nintendo when they don't have school; me --moving papers from one area to another and back again, wondering where I put them; Rosa on the computer while heating tamales she's brought us from home; Kaity Marie (everything on her desk is pink) negotiating through an insurance maze; Amy to and fro between two computers typing in codes that none of us understand. All the while, the phones are going crazy. And if we weren't busy enough: Amy and Rosa just started at the community college, I'm in the writers program at UCLA and Kaity Marie's new to the area and still finding her way around town. The "Hey how ya doin'?" really does fits the character of our office.