Followers of newFNP may recall that last week she sent a gentleman to the emergency room with a temp of 102.3 and purulent nasal discharge. The day she sent him, he has come to clinic on his bike. When El Conejo was a no-show, newFNP told him that she would get him a cab and that he could lock up his bike at the clinic.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
At that time, newFNP had no way of knowing how fortuitous it would be to store his bike for him.
He came today to pick it up, telling newFNP's MA that he was there to pick up his "Mercedes." As newFNP's MA took him to unlock his bike, he told her that the emergency room physicians had drained a lot of pus from his face and told him that if he had waited one more week, he would have lost his eye. He was hospitalized and given IV antibiotics for a week.
He was also diagnosed with leukemia.
Unfortunately, it makes sense. Why would an otherwise healthy 39-year old guy have 6 months of purulent nasal discharge and weight loss? At the time, newFNP was thinking immunocompromise due to HIV. (He had never tested positive, but newFNP was just trying to make sense of the bigger picture.) She had not thought of leukemia when she decided to send him to the ER.
Learning of his diagnosis A) reminded newFNP how crucial it is to consider patients in context and B) made newFNP feel so relieved that she sent him for further evaluation and treatment. Sadly, she knows that in other clinics, he would have received antibiotics and been sent on his way. He's poor, uneducated and uninsured. Maybe he would have gone to the emergency room when his eye was beyond saving. Maybe the infection would have overwhelmed his compromised immune system.
The silver lining is that his purulent nasal drainage is resolved and he has oncology follow-up scheduled. That is one hell of a silver lining.