The other day we spent 30 minutes at the residence of a 40-year-old woman with a history of anxiety attacks* who had an anxiety attack. Despite my intense distaste for anxiety attacks and the people who ridiculously involve 911 when they have them, I patiently coached her out of it, tried my best to explain every little detail about how to keep it in check to her and her willing family, and even managed to slip in there a reminder to her daughters that being good kids meant not upsetting Mom.
“Why did you spend all that time there?” My partner asked.
Well, that’s simple – if I can keep them from calling us again for something like that, I’d do as much as I can to make it so. Someone has an anxiety attack, calls 911, gets transported to the ED while every provider is thinking what a dumb call it is, comes home after being discharged within an hour or two, has another anxiety attack some days later and the cycle starts all over again. The only way this cycle has any chance of being broken is when people take the time to show them there’s a better way.
Or, as a co-worker likes to say when dealing with idiots, “Your way doesn’t seem to be working for you at all, does it?”
It’s not that different than the time I take to explain advance directives to patients and their families. There is a better way to manage end-of-life decisions, but no one has shown them. (And once again, thanks, Sarah. You’re a tool.)
Besides, they loved us. For not laughing in their faces. For not rolling our eyes. For taking the time and effort to fix their problem. For answering their questions. For agreeing that chocolate milk tastes good. That was some PR that no money can buy.