The lost art of reassurance medicine

Jerry and his wife, Pam, were not “medical people” and wouldn’t be considered high achievers. They seemed to be taking life in stride with a “mom and pop” disposition. Jerry had Alzheimer’s disease and was returned to his care facility after having a pacemaker inserted. The staff noticed Jerry slumped in his chair and called 911. Jerry’s blood pressure was low, and EMS transported him to the nearest hospital. He arrived with a happy-go-lucky smile on his face.

Pam freely admitted that she was a “goofball,” after several medical professionals reprimanded her for misplacing the card containing the pacemaker model and serial number. Was the pacemaker malfunctioning? Had Jerry experienced a mini-stroke? Was the dose of his blood pressure medication too high? Was he experiencing a “new normal” with his Alzheimer’s? None of this “medical stuff” mattered to Jerry and Pam as they joked with the ER doctor.

Pam warned the doctor that their daughter, Jean, was a nurse at a nearby hospital and that she was “kinda bossy.” In the meantime, the doctor told Pam that Jerry’s “drop attack” might never be completely explained, but that lowering his blood pressure medication dosage was appropriate. Besides reassurance, was further testing needed?

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