Updated on: May 8, 2020

Freeze-Dried Physician Chills During Lunch

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Original story posted on: May 7, 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Salvatore recently shared a personal experience about caring for a COVID-19 patient on FrontLine Friday, when he described being called back as an intensive care unit (ICU) physician at a hospital in Lewes, Del. This is his second column in our series.

When you sit down to eat, thoughts that have been chasing after you catch up…

Eight and a half years ago, my clinical self was freeze-dried. Then, a couple of weeks back, the hospital poured water on me and sent my clinical self back to work. One frequent question my now-rehydrated self gets is, “is it like riding a bike?”

The answer is a kind of “yes,” but the bike I got off of in the ICU almost nine years back was one that braked with the pedals and had no gears. The bike I was put back on has 10 racing gears and multiple levers on the handlebars. My clinical muscle memory has returned sufficiently to make my gyrating medical bicycle ever so less wobbly. I am, however, kept astride my clinical two-wheeler by many helping hands, many encouraging smiles, and many, many patient answers to my many, many EMR questions.

My return to the floors where I had for 20+ years ran the ICU has the atmospherics of an Elvis sighting. I had left the ICU just like Elvis had left the auditorium – completely gone. And now I am back, just like Elvis returning to the auditorium. So now I weave a serpentine path as I pedal my medical bike down the halls, just like Elvis, who is back in the auditorium – a living rumor riding a bike.

Lunch is over…

Michael A. Salvatore, MD, FACP

Dr. Michael Salvatore was a pulmonary medicine/critical care physician for 35 years. Since 2012 he has been the physician advisor and medical director of the palliative care team at Beebe Healthcare in Delaware. After earning his MD at the University of Arizona, he trained in internal medicine and PULM/CCM at Duke University. Dr. Salvatore is a member of the RACmonitor editorial board.

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