The skeptical cardiologist is about to embark on a two week vacation in Europe.
I and my Eternal Fiancee’ will fly into Paris and spend a few days there lapping up the Parisian food, booze and ambiance. Then we will take a train from Paris to Bruges, Belgium for another few days of sight-seeing.
The tour will end in Haarlem, The Netherlands (aka Holland) where the Eternal Fiancee’s parents (Wendy and Geo of “Are you on the fence about statin drugs ” fame) have swapped their house (and car) in Annapolis, Maryland (temporarily) for a house in Haarlem (and car and bikes!).
For a cardiologist, a two week vacation in Europe used to mean severing almost all communication with one’s practice. I can recall my first visit to France in 1987; there was no internet, no cell phone and no text messaging. A several minute phone call to talk to my children seemed prohibitively expensive.
For this trip, however, I am loaded up with a laptop, a cell phone and an ipad, anticipating the ability to stay in communication with everyone, everywhere.
This super-communicative status means I could do a whole lot of patient care on this European Vacation.
If I wanted to, I could log in to my hospital’s EHR and check on my patients. I could see what their latest blood pressure and weight was, or how low their potassium had dropped after diuretics. I could write orders to lower their diuretic dosage or for additional potassium.
For my outpatients, I could check labs results and send them messages. I could stop blood thinners prior to surgery or advise those having questions or problems.
If my patients have had diagnostic imaging studies, I could remotely read and report echocardiograms, nuclear stress tests, long term monitors, coronary calcium and CT angiograms.
In short, I could continue to keep an eye on my practice even while trying to vacation thousands of miles away.
Fortunately, I have an outstanding partner in my practice, Dr. Scott Brodarick and a wonderful medical assistant, Jenny Clancy, who will be covering me and handling the low potassiums and the surgical clearances and all the myriad unforeseen patient developments, making it possible for me to focus on being a skeptical tourist rather than a clinical cardiologist for two weeks.
Perhaps I shall encounter a grisette in Paris.
Mark Twain visited Paris 150 years ago. In “Innocents Abroad” he wrote about searching for grisettes in Paris whom he expected would be beautiful, graceful, happy and “charmingly, delightfully immoral.” When he finally saw them he was disappointed: “They were like nearly all the Frenchwomen I ever saw–homely. They had large hands, large feet, large mouths; they had pug noses as a general thing, and moustaches that not even good breeding could overlook; they combed their hair straight back without parting; they were ill-shaped, they were not winning, they were not graceful; I knew by their looks that they ate garlic and onions; and lastly and finally, to my thinking it would be base flattery to call them immoral.”
In the first chapter (I AM BORN) of Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield, the protagonist notes that “I was born with a caul, which was advertised