After four days into the admission with still no real communication from clinicians, Bill yelled out at the nurses. A diminutive, yet authoritative-acting foreign doctor gathers the troops around his bed to tell him he caused a freight by yelling [a behavioral anomaly readily addressed with anti-anxiety meds].
This group's "show of concern" at least provides him the chance to express his frustration's source. It seems the diminutive doctor, rather than having the courage to acknowledge she doesn't know the answers to his questions, instead responds to them by evasive language and seeming coy.
The man just learned he has cancer! Going haiku doesn't help.
When the doctor cannot answer a question ~ and instead avoids it ~ it is normal to assume the worst. On the other hand, a frank admission that you just don't know, while not providing satisfaction, is at least a lot more clear.
What is it about some doctors, so frail they interpret loudly stated verbal expressions of anguish, anger, frustration and loss as potential indicators of lack of control ...of mental illness !?!?!
The irony here is that the West Haven VA Hospital is riddled with posters offering help and assistance for combat veterans with PTSD. And while being diagnosed with cancer is not the same as combat stress, hearing you have cancer can be traumatic, it can be stressful. Is it too much to ask that all clinicians working there at least know this? I think not.
The coy doctor vaguely admitted she did not know what to tell him, and introduces the oncologist, who can, and who provides a clearer description of what the past two weeks of lab tests, procedures, poking and prodding have found. The answers aren't great, but the news is encouraging: that the state of esophageal cancer Bill has is treatable.
UPDATE: In fairness, aside from the one glitch of a clinician being unclear about details, the care and attention Bill has been getting has been exemplary. Each of the people under Step Down's care have unique and difficult medical problems, yet the staff remain on top of their mission while remaining thoughtful to what the folks they are working with go through. I'm glad they are there.