Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Notice to my patients

I am more than excited about my gentle return to seeing patients. Despite the IVIG and the risks, my getting back to work restores a sense of normalcy to my life. It exerts an external control, so my hours are less transfixed by the existential questions of how to fill my days. Like many of us, my work imbues my days with meaning. Being a family doctor, I move in the realm of meaning and value. It wraps around me and makes me happy and purposeful. (In the last year I have seem to have blissfully forgotten all the bureaucratic hassles of medicine in the 21st century).

The last letter I sent to my patients was to share that I was going to gone from the office for a long time for a transplant for leukemia. It was shock to nearly all of them. Most had no idea. But I said I'd be back.

Almost a year to the day that I left, here is the note I will have posted at the front desk, tomorrow.

For Dr. Koffman’s Patients

Dr. Koffman is thrilled to be back to work.

Since his bone marrow transplant on July 1, 2008 he has achieved a deep and complete remission. Despite some stubborn lymph nodes in his gut, his blood and bone marrow are totally free of cancer. This good news however does not mean his immune system is fully recovered or that he is cured. How long this wonderful remission will hold is anyone’s guess (he is counting on about 40 years, but will settle for 35), but whatever the future brings, he is planning on enjoying each day he can at the clinic.

The leukemia and its treatment have however significantly affected his ability to resist infections.

As he wants to be able to increase his hours in the office slowly and avoid any setbacks, here are some simple precautions:

If you believe you might have an infection or have had a close exposure to an infected family member or friend (cough, fever, suspicious rash, etc), you would be better served by having your consult with one of his partners. Please tell the front desk and they will help you.

If you recently have received certain live vaccines such as Yellow Fever, MMR, or the nasal spray flu vaccine, please schedule with a different provider for the next two weeks. Most common vaccines such as flu shot pneumonia, and tetanus are not an issue.

Finally, if you are the hugging type, please feel free to let Dr. Koffman know you are feeling so inclined, but please refrain. Your warm intention will more than suffice to add joy to his day.

In summary, please let the front desk know if you think you are infected or have been exposed to an infection or if you’ve had a recent live vaccination.

Thank you



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a you'll have to remember not to hug your patients!


June 4, 2009 at 7:12 AM  
Blogger Judy Cleri said...

Dear Dr. K,

May I be the first to say.....AMEN! Now, I hate to say it, but I am looking forward to going to the doctor.........never in a zillion years did I think I would ever say that. Welcome back. We desperately have missed you! speaking of which I'm off to see dr. Lawton for my check up.....I feel great so all must be well........


Judy C

June 4, 2009 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger E. Kostich said...

You are a ray of sunshine that has broken through the RCC cloud that I've been living under. I look forward to seeing you soon, fear not, it will be a preventative appointment. Cheers.

June 4, 2009 at 8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am wondering if valved N95 mask would offer a bit of extra protection for you. You can tell people to stay away if ill but there will always be the occasional good will individual or sneezer/cougher which sneaks in.

June 4, 2009 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Because I have my own immunity dysfunction, I go through life carrying medical masks and whip them out like a handkerchief. Sadly, patients come to you WHEN they are ill or sick. Children are little petri dishes of germs and contamination!! Your letter is too polite to effect their recognition of your danger risk from them. So, my suggestion is that YOU wear the mask - the majority of the time - in your office and when handling patients. Your work is important, but you DO HAVE limits now. CONGRATULATIONS DOC!!!

June 5, 2009 at 12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a form of MD and I too have to watch out for those that do not get that getting sick is a huge deal for me. So I always have wipes, hand sanitizers,or the like, if I am not around a sink. I wish people would understand when you cant contact them instead of being offended by it.

June 5, 2009 at 9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one of your patient, I am absolutely thrilled that you will be back in the office!

We have certainly missed you!


June 6, 2009 at 9:51 AM  

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