Every patient has a rich history behind their current state of health

As I was reviewing his chart, I noticed under social history that “freelance artist/painter” was listed as his occupation. I’ve never met a patient of such talent and honestly, I was excited to meet him. When I arrived at the ER, I was introduced to an unassuming elderly man. He wore a pair of worn out jeans and a burnt orange T-shirt. Tufts of white hair emanated from under his baseball cap. He ran out of home oxygen a day ago and was brought my ambulance for COPD exacerbation. After being on high-flow oxygen for some time, he transitioned to a nasal cannula dialed to three liters.

“Hi Mr. Birch, my name’s T.J. I’m a third-year med student with the treatment team.”

“Hey there, T.J. You’re here for the story?”

“Yes, only if you’re comfortable and breathing better.”

“About 80 percent better, let’s go.”

After filling in the details on what brought Mr. Birch to the hospital, I asked him what it was like being an artist.

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