I am on my second month of family medicine. Last week we saw a 55 year old man who had lost 72 pounds unintentionally over the last 5 months. He usually weighs 220, and he’s down to 148… He literally looked like skin and bones. Most people would jokingly reply that’s a problem they’d like to have. But the fact is, you wouldn’t. Unintentional weight loss is cancer until proven otherwise. Which usually results in CTs and PET scans so we can find it and treat you asap.
The problem was, every blood test, autoimmune antibody, CT or PET scan was negative. The doctor had done a thorough work up, and was grasping at straws looking for a diagnosis. The patient had no answers. And we were as clueless as we were when he came in 3 months ago having lost 30 pounds. He was literally wasting away in front of us from some unknown cause. I couldn’t help but think “man, I wish we had some answers for him.” The latest round of tests we ordered have all come back negative.
My rotation here ends on Friday, so I will probably never know what caused his rapid and massive weight loss. But the whole situation made me think about my own life and how often I’ve been impatiently waiting for answers of my own.
“If I could just hear back about my college scholarships,” changed to “if I could just hear back after my med school interview,” which has evolved to “if I could just hear back about my 4th year electives so I can apply for residency already.”
Life doesn’t stop for us to desire answers. This man didn’t let his intense medical case stop him from hiking daily and enjoying his time with his grand kids. If we are always waiting for the next thing and not enjoying where we presently are, we are sure to miss out on many opportunities and memories.