“You have to go home, you have a blog to write” my breathless patient uttered the words as he awkwardly ended our conversation last night. I was tired, but not nearly as much as he was. Yet he was there, caring about what I still had to do tonight. It had been a long day for him, a long week to be honest and now has been admitted. Patients get admitted for different reasons. Some to get chemotherapy, others with symptoms that are hard to manage at home.

It takes me one look at them to know that they need to be admitted to the hospital and that this is another battle they must face. Putting them in the hospital allows many aspects of their care to take place. They are right at the heart of the “factory”, with all the nurses, the physicians, the pharmacists, the medication, the machines and technology. He looked back at me and he knew that I would admit him. It was clear he was struggling and it was time to offer relief to him and his wife who cried but agreed this would be the best thing to do.

What will happen? Is it the cancer? They and I hoped for many other things and many outcomes, something I could possibly remedy. It’s not easy to see my patients struggling with their symptoms. They are trying hard to “fight”. They get stoic and a little stubborn. I promised to see him the next day to talk over the tests that I had asked the team taking care of him to do.  The ambiguity of not knowing his outcome was a thought that floated in my mind as I went home. I am ending my night praying for a result of a vision of him feeling better.

I walked away from the hospital, leaving my patient behind, but in the good careful hands of the staff in the hospital. I think of his words, “you have a blog to write” and I smile. Sure, I will work on my blog. He was one of my friends that read what I write every week.  It touched me that he read it, anticipated it and knew that I did that on Tuesday at the end of my day. I never know what I will write about, I just do. I let my day and mind settle. Tonight, like many nights, my thoughts are with those who are in the hospital. They linger with those that have ambiguity in what their outcome might be. It is a difficult place to be. Please know I am with you.

Goodnight my friends.




5 thoughts on “Ambiguity

  1. I’ve never read one of your blogs Mo without feeling my heart in my throat afterwards. Thank you for treating the patient with love and respect as well as theyre loved ones who hold on to every word and thought you have, hoping and praying for that one thing that will even they’re world out and, also continuting to “treat” and love they’re loved ones when what the patient as well as the family hears rocks they’re world for ever. Thank you for being you! As always……God bless and hugs from the Birminghams.

  2. Dear Dr. Mo,
    My husband and I met you last week when you saw us because you were covering for Dr. Carlisle. Of all of the health care drs., pas, nurses etc we have met in Iowa City these past 3 weeks, you touched my husband and I both. You REALLY listened to our questions and though you don’t deal with brain tumors you assured us that you were there to help us in ANY way that we needed you now and in the future. You told my Husband to eat that blue cheese that you love and don’t worry about it affecting your brain tumor!
    Now that I happened upon this blog, quite by accident, I can see that our feelings were well warranted. You really DO care about your patients. Thank you for looking us in the eye, listening to what we say, answering the questions that we ask and without keeping one hand on the door to get away from us!
    Cheers to you Dr. Mo, you are a good man!
    Kim and Jack New

  3. Thank you for writing your blogs Dr. Mo- you are more than a Doctor, you are a thinker. You really care about how your decisions impact your patients. Reading your blogs has helped me to know you better and feel confident you are the best person in the world is to treat my beloved family member. Melanoma scares me, you help me navigate that fear. Thank you.

  4. Mo,
    I so look forward every week to read your blog to.. I look at my emails on Wednesdays and hope your blog is in my inbox..I can understand why he wanted you to get home to start that blog for the week…He doesn’t want anyone to have to wait any longer to read it… Your blogs are beautiful Mo and if I ever have to stay at the hospital I know your team of nurses and hospital staff are amazing. Your blogs are very comforting and I don’t feel as alone dealing with this awful beast.. I am blessed to have you and your wonderful team in my corner.. To my amazing doctor of science “keep blogin”.


  5. I don’t have cancer but look forward to your blogs also. My mother died of pancreatic cancer 2 yrs ago and you cared for her during her one stay in the hospital. Turns out that 10 day stay meant her body was shutting down and she went home with hospice. She died 4 days later. Your blog reminds me of all the wonderful physicians (including your lovely wife :)) and healthcare workers who try so hard to relieve pt’s suffering, physical and mental and give them hope. Sometimes it’s not possible to heal the body but piece of mind means a lot. Even to those of us who don’t have cancer but may develop it someday and have traveled that road with a loved one. God bless you and your heart.

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