This season of thanks, we asked Doximity Fellows to share brief stories of gratitude. We’ve split their responses into two parts; the first part, about patients they are grateful for, was published in late October. Below is part two: gratitude our writers have received from patients.
Gratitude for Gratitude
“Dr. Fong, I am going to nominate you for the Nobel Peace Prize!” My patient exclaimed as I walked into the exam room. In a world where health care is really a service industry and everyone has a butthole and hemorrhoids exist, I often get the shitty end of the stick, literally. So it filled me with gratitude to receive some gratitude, even though all I did was band a couple of hemorrhoids. He said he’d been in pain for 15 years. Since then, this patient and I have become friends. Lately he’s been leading a picket line of 90-year-olds protesting the corporatization of their church-run senior living home. I tell him to remember to drink more water and try to rest now and then and I’ll see him in six months. He says, “I’ll miss you.” And I say, “I don’t know about a Nobel Peace Prize, but there is a Nobel Prize in Medicine…”
— Carmen Fong, MD, Colon & Rectal Surgery
An Update on Baby
I periodically get DMs from patients whom I took care of years ago. I can't always remember the particular situation but I am always struck by the gratitude of the patient. A recent one read: “My daughter had a prolapsed umbilical cord. You noticed the monitor, came in calmly and checked me. You held her off that cord as they ran me to the OR and delivered her by C-section in three minutes.” Now that baby is 22 years old and graduated from college. My patient became a pediatric RN after that incident and wrote to tell me that I saved her baby from becoming hypoxic and to thank me for being a big part of starting her baby’s life out positively.
— Rohana Motley White, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology
A Family Affair
I met him a month earlier in my clinic for swallowing difficulties. I told him we will get an EGD done and chat about the next steps. I was concerned he was having a bad case of heartburn. When I saw him a week later in pre-op, I told him, “We will take good care of you.” I did not see signs of heartburn but saw a mass in his stomach. I resected the mass that turned out to be early cancer. Lucky for him, he did not need surgery or chemotherapy. He came for follow-up with his 78-year-old wife, daughter-in-law, son, and granddaughter. He held my hand with tears in his eyes and said, “Doc, you are my angel. I get to live to see my grandbaby graduate high school.”
— Sara Ghoneim, MD, Gastroenterology
A Patient’s Journey, a Doctor’s Calling
As a resident dermatologist, I recently had a wonderful interaction with an elderly woman who had her first squamous cell cancer excised. Despite performing a relatively simple procedure, her relief and appreciation were palpable throughout our encounter and even after I called her to report the final pathology results. Our conversations not only reminded me of the profound impact we have on patients’ lives, but also reaffirmed the calling that drew me to medicine and dermatology. Witnessing her journey from diagnosis to recovery also underscored the importance of staying updated on the ever-evolving advancements to improve our patients’ well-being.
— Albert Zhou, MD, Dermatology Resident
When you receive a thank you for helping someone with acne scars that have affected their confidence, it is rewarding as a health professional. Using your skills to help patients improve their confidence is only one of the benefits of my work.
— Linda Gordon, NP, Acute Care
The Magic of Helping Others
“You’re my angels!” She exclaimed, eyebrows raised and a soft smile on her face, as an anesthesia mask muffled her voice and she drifted off to sleep on the operating table. The surgeon and I looked at each other and shrugged, as it was a small excisional surgery. She told us later that she saw two doctors and another surgeon who were not able to help her with this until she was referred to our practice. What felt like a quick and simple surgery to us was finally a resolution for her. It is easy to forget the magic of helping others — but it is absolutely still there.
— Julie Therien, PA, Plastic Surgery
Our writers also expressed gratitude for the non-medical professionals they come into contact with in their busy days as clinicians. Below, a story of a compassionate barista, and of the strength of Ukrainian ballet dancers:
A Sports Doctor at the Ballet
The Kyiv City Ballet in Ukraine started a six-week tour in Paris on February 17, 2022. The Russians attacked their home on the 24th. They hadn’t been back since they came to Detroit, Michigan six months later. I came to offer treatment before the show. Each dancer described their sadness and despair, but also optimism and determination. One dancer wryly noted that if they knew Russia was going to attack, they would have packed more clothes. The audience waved flags and cheered, enjoying a night of skill and beauty. The show must indeed go on, and I was better for it.
— Steven Karageanes, DO, Sports Medicine
From One Healer to Another
He is already measuring espresso with the expertise that comes from years of opening the cafe as I walk through the door that morning. I’m wearing sweat-soaked scrubs in the hazy aftermath of a difficult death, leaving a night shift in the ICU. I am there seeking caffeine-kindness, trying to cope. Our conversations only ever last for the time it takes to steam milk, but they hold a sustaining warmth that carries me through the day. It’s what brought me here: coffee poured like a sacrament. He hands me my latte. “You’re doing important work, you know,” he reassures. “You too,” I tell him, “Even more than you know.”
— Michaela Barry, MD, Internal Medicine
What’s the most memorable thank you you’ve received from a patient? Share in the comments!
Illustration by Jennifer Bogartz