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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Catching the Flight Home

A Belgian tour leader informed me that a 70 year-old in his group had severe abdominal pain and wanted a visit.

I explained that this would require more evaluation than I could perform. The guest should go to an emergency room.

“Absolutely,” said the tour leader. “But they want a doctor to come. If you decide he must go, you will explain it so they understand.”

He was not being honest, as I later discovered. Anxious to avoid the hassle of accompanying the couple to the hospital, he had insisted on a housecall hoping I would make the problem go away.

He had not passed on my advice, so they were shocked when, after an examination, I repeated it. The husband refused to go, pointing out that their return flight left the following day. He added that he was merely constipated. His doctor in Belgium had agreed and recommended an enema.

I responded that being on the spot gave me priority. The guest picked up the phone and managed to reach his doctor who agreed that a CT scan was a good idea. The guest assured me he would think it over and go to an ER if the pain persisted.

I passed a worried night. In the morning, the wife declared that her husband felt a littler better. Feeling “a little better” in response to a doctor’s query means “no better.” I warned them not to board the plane if the husband had any abdominal pain. Two hours later the wife phoned to announce that he was entirely better, and they were leaving for the airport.

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