Saturday, February 07, 2009

A question of interest

The other day I inquired with Dr. F. whether he could take a look at my son Erik. I was told no, he was no longer practicing. Dr. F. said that he was retired, and that he did only research at this time.

So I asked if he could refer me to someone else. He asked me where I was located, and I said I was right here at Stanford. I also told him that I needed an explanation for all that had happened to Erik. I said Erik has had about 30 broken bones, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, Kawasaki's syndrome, a slipped capital femoral epiphysis. I said that he only weighed 34lbs and that we had checked all the reasons why this might be the case, and that it took 10 years and 5 nephrologists and several endocrinologists until we finally found an interested doctor, not at Stanford, who discovered Erik needed 1,25(OH)2 D3, (Calcitriol) a Vitamin D hormone made by the kidney. That doctor did not want to continue to care for Erik. I guess it wouldn't look good if he were waiting with other patients in the waiting room.

The other doctor, also not at Stanford, this time a capable nephrologist at Valley Medical Center, told us that Erik was in stage 5 kidney failure.

When I told Dr. F. which doctors Erik had seen at Stanford, I gave him the following names: Dr. L., Dr. A., Dr. P., Dr. K., and others. He said he was sorry that Erik had not been helped. He thought these physicians were all quite capable. But I knew that these doctors would rather have had other patients other than Erik, somebody more on the order of normal, somebody that can be helped, some cute little baby with a curable defect.

What I don't understand is the question he asked me at the end of our conversation, and it truly shocked me. He asked: "Why do you want to know about something that happened so long go?"

I couldn't answer him because it left me speechless and at odds with the world. I know the answer now. My answer to his question should have been: "I want to know because I am interested." I would have also, in turn, liked to ask him why he himself was doing only research. I presume he would have responded: I want to know because I am interested. Would he have answered that or would he have been as dumb-founded as I was?

I can't help mourn the loss of interest in science among our physicians. Dr. F. was not the first doctor ever to ask me that question. I cannot believe that a question like that is posed out of compassion. This question was asked because of lack of curiosity.