Every day I am absolutely awestruck by the amount of thought and energy that these doctors put into their patients. They think and rethink, group and regroup their symptoms, call and connect with experts in Lisbon or in other branches to try and come up with ideas that can explain or help treat a child’s disease or disorder. There are chronic questions that bother the doctors, that are especially prevalent in pediatric cases. What is a symptom? If a patient is timid and responds with short disinterested answers is that a temperament or a cue for a neurological symptom. Are they faking, are they lying, are all questions that these doctors have to ask and consider? Maybe the girl is using short words because it gives her a throbbing headache to do more, indicative of another underlying issue. If you assume she is just shy, you may overlook a symptom of a serious clinical problem. It is incredible how these doctors rule out and diagnose these patients, some of which are infants, and others are unruly teenagers.
P.S. Dr. Juan tests out every oral supplement he can to make sure the taste is adequate for his patients. The other day we tried a strawberry flavored anti-diarrheal and anti-vomit medication that is harmless and designated for infants and young children. We evaluated the flavor, texture, and ease. Who does that? A great doctor does that. So much care and consideration goes into every patient, even when they aren’t in the room.
P.P.S. There has been a strike going on for the past two days in the hospital. The strike is concerning understaffing, overworking, and being unable to speak publicly about their institutions (positive or negative). This is across Portugal and even came to the Azores even though they have more autonomy in medicine than the other states of Portugal. The issue is how can a doctor strike? They have a financial and moral reason to protest their conditions however the people who actually feel their striking are the patients. It causes a moral dilemma for the doctors whether or not they will strike. While nurses and skeleton staff will see urgent patients and maintain care, many of my colleagues here have said the doctors they are shadowing have not come to work for the last two days. Dr. Juan and other pediatric department doctors believe that they have a moral obligation to their patients and cannot strike. Striking is not worth their patients well being and quality of care. This is an ethical question that many doctors currently face and it is a very tricky situation. I hope for the best for both doctors striking and those working because both patients and doctors deserve respect and consideration. It is too bad that currently the two do not coincide.