Friday, July 29, 2011

The Handsome Doctors (Smart Too!)

So I've tried to be a good wife through all of this. On one particular evening I was pre-reading one of Paul's blog posts. He was talking about our doctors and he went so far as to comment on their good looks. As I don't consider this his area of expertise(!) I chimed in with a small protest on an inaccuracy that needed adjusting. You see he commented that one was less good-looking than another. As both of these doctors are good-looking I told him he should say as much and perhaps differentiate by stating that one is dark while the other is blond. To my absolute amazement (and consternation), Paul laughed outloud VERY loudly and reassured me this was a guy thing. Sigh. He left it as is and posted the blog!

I must confess to an IMMENSE amount of satisfaction the next morning when I was validated, albeit unknowingly, by Susan, our nurse for that day. In talking with Paul about something, Dr Lammers' name came up and she clarified which doctor they were speaking of by asking, "You mean the handsome one?" (He was deemed less handsome in Paul's blog.) Paul and I burst out laughing. As she had not read his blog yet, she had no idea she was authenticating my argument. Thank you, Susan!

I've got one picture with our current four doctors. Unfortunately this picture does not present Dr Strickland at his best so I will follow that one with a great one I got of him next to Dr Lammers.

Dr Lammers, Doc Halliday, Dr Paul, and Dr Strickland

Dr Strickland and Dr Lammers

Dr Strickland is an Associate Professor of Medicine here at Vanderbilt. When one googles Dr Strickland (as of course I did) one quickly finds that he is indeed very accomplished. He oversees many of the clinical trials here at Vanderbilt for the Leukemia ward and I've heard it stated that he is the best(!) when it comes to research. As Paul's Leukemia is quite unique - meaning there's very little if any data to turn to - it brings a lot of peace of mind knowing an accomplished fact finder and problem solver is heading up his care.

Another VERY delightful tidbit on Dr Strickland's accomplishments: his initial 4 yr degree (his BS) is in.... ready for this?.... ZOOLOGY!!!!! Now is that great info for my LOL blog or what?! And obviously the PERFECT doctor for Paul! Clearly he has the broad data bank one would need to diagnose Paul and all his, er, peculiarities! For the record, Dr Strickland did go on to obtain an Biomedical Sciences. He completed a Master of Science in Clinical Investigation at Vanderbilt in 2009. Clearly we are in good hands. Handsome and smart too! (The whole "handsome" thing came up from a conversation Paul was having with him, looking for info to use in analogies. Dr Strickland came up with a great analogy on the spot involving teenagers and Paul asked permission to use this. Dr Strickland - who is GREAT with people - jokingly said something about giving credit to the handsome doctor -- then cautioned not to confuse him with Dr Lammers...and so the parlay began...)

One last tidbit on Dr Strickland and then I'll move on. He's also published. One article in particular caught my attention and I in fact had a very enjoyable read on, "Hiccups: Underappreciated and Underrecognized" co-authored by Dr Strickland and an associate. While I had several quips and fun points to make from this paper - hey, he even put in a good word for acupuncture! I'm going to refrain - perhaps save that for another blog - in order to touch on the other docs just a bit.

So Dr Lammers has to be next.

He did the actual biopsy on Paul yesterday. I believe he's in his last year of studies and he's actually moving to another floor as of Monday. They move around while learning stuff. (Very technical clarification there, I know.) So, he's tall - wears size 8 gloves -- Amma and Ariel wear size 6, Rushie wears size 7 for reference -- and seems quiet. He did an awesome job on Paul's biopsy (my experienced opinion there - after all, I'd already watched, er, ONE.) He at first encountered the same problem as the doctor who did Paul's initial one in Corinth several weeks ago. The problem being NO LIQUID MARROW. I have no idea what this signifies, I just know they apparently get liquid first then an actual bone specimen and Paul didn't have liquid. Dr Lammers then proceeded, as did the initial doctor several weeks ago, to procure a bone specimen. Now that looked very, er, interesting. You see, Dr Lammers, as I've said, is quite tall and to see this large man bending way over, using all his body weight to, um, I guess dig through (very appropriate medical term, I know) Paul's very dense hip bone - as if one were going after a particularly stubborn cork on a desired bottle of wine, continually turning and turning the cork screw - was an arresting site for this wife to be sure. We were able to conclude that those years of Paul's pounding the pavement - ie jogging - weren't in vain. Paul has very dense bones. Obtaining a piece of Paul's hipbone required a good bit of effort on the doctor's part. But he was successful in the end. The technician standing by gave a small exclamation of approval causing me to conclude he was, indeed, very good at what he did. Here's his handiwork for those of you experienced with this kind of thing. You can see if you agree with the technician:
For you non-techies, the red stuff is the bone

Now what happened next sets Dr Lammers - and Dr Strickland - apart from other doctors, I'm sure.

First, the gloves....

During the bone-procuring procedure Dr Strickland was standing by, overseeing. When there was no liquid marrow he asked a few seemingly casual questions and then announced that he was going to go get his gloves. As way of explanation he reassured us all that this is a little trick he uses. He never actually has to use his gloves, somehow just the suggestion gets things happening in a direction he'd like them to go. Meanwhile, Dr Lammers continued to work on Paul and as Dr Strickland took his stand there with his magical gloves on, Dr Lammers drew up what looked to me like blood but was apparently the coveted liquid bone marrow-and lots of it! (Did he just go deeper in the same spot? Did he somehow move over to a different place in that marrow area? And most importantly, how can I get a pair of those magical gloves? These are questions I'll have to ask them tomorrow morning - the team of doctors comes by EVERY morning - even on weekends - so we get plenty of time to ask our questions and stay in touch with what they're thinking/working on.)

They make a great team! Clean-up and all!

Just before the biopsy began Dr Lammers asked if this was going to be televised live. They've grown used to the murmurs about our blogs. So, in answer to your question, Dr Lammer: No. It wasn't televised live. It was spelled out in a play-by-play afterwards! :-)

Now I know this blog is getting long but I simply cannot write a blog on our doctors and not include Doc Halliday! Cowboy boots and all. (Sorry, no picture of the boots at this time but I'll work on that...)

Doc Halliday is from Texas but you'd never know from the way he talks. No accent that I can tell. His one giveaway is the cowboy boots he wears when doing his rounds. (Confessions: I've never actually noticed the boots myself but a great little nurse clued me in on that nice little tidbit.)

He unknowingly endeared himself to us the very first time we met with him. It was our admissions day. He accompanied another doctor (Dr Lehman who sadly moved on.) It was Dr Lehman who asked all the questions and seemed to be in charge. He then left and it was up to Doc Halliday to close up our meeting. Paul asked, "Do y'all just have until tomorrow afternoon to decide on what Chemo regimen to give me?" Doc Halliday responded with, "Well if by "Y'all" you mean Dr Strickland and Dr Greer then Yes, I think so." He went on to place himself at the bottom of the pay-grade scale. It was very winsome! He's the guy most often seen here on our ward and seems to be the first responder when a doctor is needed. He's also the one who checks on Paul first thing each morning - except yesterday morning - I overheard Dr Strickland's quip, "So Doc Halliday is on holiday?"

One morning Doc Halliday found Paul on the exercise bike (again) and started smiling from down the hall. "Let me guess," he called, "You feel great!" See why we like him?

This morning he told Paul that he forwarded Paul's blog to his father who is also a doctor. He asked his dad, "Have you ever had a patient write such nice things about you?" And his dad responded with, "No. Someone did once make a comment about me on the internet, "Odd but good doctor!" That gave us a good laugh.

As for Dr Paul, well - he's new. And he's quiet - though I'll confess to seeing him chatting away at the desk - and he seems to stay busy. And I like his name! So he's a keeper as well.

Sigh. Sad as it may be, I guess it's time to conclude my circumlocution (fancy word I just found for ramblings) on the very wonderful, wonderful doctors here at Vanderbilt who are working their tails off to save Paul's life. And I'm so grateful! They gave us the much hoped and prayed for news this morning that his biopsy looks clean. Continue to remember them and pray for them as they search for a bone marrow match and continue to see him through to a cure!!!!

Reporting live from room 11010 (and grateful to be here!)... Godspeed and Good Night!


  1. So obviously Dr. Strickland is an evolutionist since he made the transition from zoology to human medicine. It's practically the same difference right?! :)

  2. I just love your newsy blogs. Being a visual person no tidbit is too much for me. I love them all.

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