Bread and Butter Medicine

Of all my patient visits since I came back from my CME trip to Boston, the one that lingers in my mind as I do my farm chores on a sunny day off in mid-May is the young woman I had first met on a bitterly cold evening in February. Her face had been covered with acne, small pustules and red papules, so many of them that they almost touched each other. She had tried every over the counter preparation she could get her hands on to no avail.

I saw her again the other day, beaming, smiling and exuding optimism and confidence. Her face was just about clear and she told me she had just posted a closeup photograph, with NO MAKEUP, on Facebook. She pulled her smartphone from her jeans pocket and showed me.

She is graduating this weekend, and she is ready for her adult life to begin, comfortable in her own skin, as we say in America.

“When I first came to see you, I thought you’d prescribe some other cream that wouldn’t work. But the doxycycline is really working. You remember, at first I got sick to my stomach on my morning dose, but you told me to eat something with it and it worked. Now I’m only taking it at night with supper and look at me!”

A common generic medicine, some common sense advice about skin care, some tinkering with how and when to take the medication, and a young person feels better about herself and ready for summer vacation and a big move out of state in the fall. Not like diagnosing a pheochromocytoma or Fanconis syndrome, but in primary care, even the small victories are important. Every patient deserves to get better if it is at all possible.

2 Responses to “Bread and Butter Medicine”

  1. 1 Mary Symmes May 12, 2018 at 1:20 am

    Yay! You really changed that young woman’s life, and she will never forget you.

  2. 2 Philip Miller MD May 12, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    Think Mino more expensive than Doxy, and more side effects.

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Osler said “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”. Duvefelt says “Listen to your patient, he is telling you what kind of doctor he needs you to be”.



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