Friday, March 31, 2017

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AHMAD!! What do neurofibromatosis, scoliosis, burnout, patient safety and "flow" have to do with one another?

 After going to a wonderful Duke Patient Safety Conference last Thursday which discussed ways of avoiding and treating burnout, and also finding "flow" in your life, I've been inspired to start writing my blog more regularly again.  Dr. Shanafelt from Mayo Clinic shared that 45% of doctors and nurses are burned out, and that burnout leads to patient safety issues, retention issues, and even health consequences for healthcare providers and patients!!  Bryan Sexton, PhD from Duke also shared his research and interventions that could possibly help prevent burnout.  I was really struck that this is an issue that we as a medical community need to work together on.  It reminded me of a lecture I gave almost 3 years ago at Cornell to a Phi Delta Epsilon premed Honor Society entitled "Finding and Maintaining Your Joy and Idealism through your Medical Career Journey"  -- that talk was very well received with over 1/4 of the audience coming down to talk with me afterwards since I was providing hope to escape the cynicism that was already pervading their path.  The main point of that talk was COMPASSION -- what can drive us to keep serving, as we realize the precious people we serve in healthcare, and the precious people we work with in service together as a team.  So here's my plan -- I want to help improve patient safety, and also improve work culture by writing down thankful encouraging miracle moments when they occur so we can all take better care of our patients, and enjoy the journey more, and inspire the next generation to do likewise!!!

While events are still fresh in my mind, I want to try to remember the inspiring patients and families and events that remind us why it is great to be a surgeon, nurse, PA, nurse practitioner, medical assistant, X-Ray tech, scrub tech... you name it!  Every day there are little miracles that occur that make you smile.... and I often say that I should write them down while the "energy spike" of the moment is fresh.... but usually I don't!

Well, I want to make an effort to share a bit more now, so as time goes by I can remember, but maybe also inspire some others to take heart and be encouraged as well.  We are all quite blessed to be able to interact with precious people, and to be able to be in a compassionate profession.  But we are also blessed to be working WITH EACH OTHER, showing compassion to one another as well as to patients and families.  Taking special notice of those moments of compassion and healing can help maintain a thankful spirit, which is a great treatment and prevention for "burnout", which I learned affects 45% of physicians and nurses in healthcare today!!

The miracle guy I want to focus on first is my friend, and future MD partner Ahmad.  Ahmad is 12 years old, and will be 13 years old tomorrow, April Fool's Day!!  HAPPY BIRTDHAY AHMAD!!!  He has neurofibromatosis, which has caused a very severe scoliosis, around 110 degrees. This makes it tough to grow, tough to breathe, and can become quite painful.  We admitted him for cervical traction at WakeMed Children's Hospital for several weeks, gradually stretching out his spine, which allowed his lungs to work better, improve his spinal alignment, and also improve his nutrition.

Yesterday I got a chance to see Ahmad and his mom and Pre-Med sister at Hey Clinic for his 6 week postop visit doing very well.
12 yo Ahmad, before and after scoliosis surgery

His mom brought us two big boxes of Dunkin' Donuts which our staff and patients fully enjoyed, even though it broke my "low carb" promise I had made to myself.  Ahmad then gave me a very special gift that he had made for me, that he designed himself:


When I opened up the box and took out this beautiful clear award, I just had to laugh as I read the inscription around his before and after X-Rays etched into the glass:  "Get it Straight... Dr. Lloyd Hey... COOLEST DOCTOR AWARD" !!!  

The hand-written card from Ahmad and his parents was also quite precious...ending with "I love you"

So Ahmad has already told me that he wants to join Hey Clinic as a doctor when he grows up, but he doesn't plan to do surgery, since he "doesn't like blood."  His older sister, a pre-med definitely is is surgically minded and wants to help as well.   They will likely be working alongside Jonathan R, a boy a little older than Ahmad who had a 110 degree scoliosis we fixed at WakeMed about 2.5 years ago.  Jonathan just entered a special medical health high school program so he can fast track toward a career in medicine.  As an interesting coincidence, I actually got invited to Jonathan's 14th birthday party, which I went to as Jonathan was making transition to manhood!  What a joy to be included in that special celebration with his family and friends.  We are all part of a web of relationships... it's not just work!!!

So, Happy Birthday Ahmad, and thanks to you and your family for blessing me and our whole team at Hey Clinic and WakeMed with your words of encouragement, your gifts,  and your friendship.

I love you too, Ahmad.
I was a patient once, too, and still love my surgeon who saved my life and my leg.

Dr. Lloyd Hey
Hey Clinic for Scoliosis and Spine Surgery

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I just received a beautiful letter from a guest of Hey Clinic I just had to share!
This is one of the remarkable reasons I became a surgeon-Thanks Kara and to your wonderful family as well-Keep Dancing-Dr. Hey

"Dr. Hey,

This a link to a video of Kara doing a dress rehearsal for her dance solo this year.  The dance is based on her journey this year with her surgery.  I want to thank you and all of your staff for making this possible.  5 months ago when she went in for surgery I really had my doubts that she would be up and dancing this quickly.  She learned this dance in December just 2 months after her surgery.  Her teachers are amazed at what she is doing.  Hope you enjoy.  Thank you again for what you do for everyone that suffers like she was. We are so grateful for Hey Clinic!!"