Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Aswani Salvador

I should start by saying that I have the parents' permission to write this entry, because I shall be divulging some identifying information.

I have a wonderful family in my practice. I see both the parents and kids (one of the fun things that comes from being a Med-Peds doc). Recently, the family was blessed by the addition of twin boys. I was excitededly looking forward to doing their newborn exams.

As it turned out, my schedule was packed, and their first exam in the Med-Peds department was to be done by my colleague, who had openings in her schedule. When they checked in, one of the girls at the appointment desk came up to me with a big smile on her face and asked me if I knew about this. I thought she was asking about whether I knew that one of my families had had twins. I smiled back and said, "Oh yes! I can't wait to meet them!"

She shook her head to indicate that that was not what she meant and smiled and showed me their appointment. They had named one of the baby boys Aswani Salvador! Aswani is my last name and we had chatted in the past about my mission trips to El Salvador. Dad had mentioned at one point in the pregnancy that he would like to name one of his children after me. I had thought he was kidding. Guess not.

It was a bit ironic that even Aswani could not get in to see Aswani -- the practice is that busy!

I did get to meet the twins eventually and was somewhat embarrassed to be holding Aswani.

I hope that Aswani doesn't get flak for his name growing up. :-)

Listening to her heart

My mom visited me here recently. While here,she developed a slight cough and congestion. In order to determine if she might be cooking a pneumonia, I decided to listen to her heart and lungs -- something I do for my patients.

I have listened to thousands (if not tens of thousands) of hearts and lungs by now. Just like other physicians who do this, I am listening for certain sounds, characterizing what I hear into abnormal and normal and building a differential diagnosis based on what I hear. Listening to a heart or to lung sounds is not the same as listening to a song in iTunes or on your phone or music player. One usually isn't appreciating some asthetic.

All this said, when I put my stethoscope on my mother's chest and heard her heart, I had a strange feeling. It occurred to me that when I was in her womb for 9 months (I was born full term), I heard that sound day and night. I was drawn by the experience to reflect on how my relationship to that sound has changed. As a fetus, I simply heard it. I wonder if fetuses derive comfort from hearing that heart sound as some have suggested. Here I was now listening with a physician's ear. I probably heard the sound of my mother's breathing both inside her womb and thereafter as she held me. Now I was listening for subtle changes in her breath sounds to determine if she had fluid in her lungs, an asthmatic's wheeze or something else.

It was a bit surreal.