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  • Is there a Doctor on the Train?

    Duty seems to call, even on vacation. Recently we were on vacation in Europe, specifically Paris and London; After spending 5 days in Paris, we left Paris by train via the Chunnel to London. The train experience was nice and the train must have been going 80 mph. It was a quick 2 1/2 hr. ride. Soon after we left Paris, an announcement over the loudspeaker asked if there was a doctor or nurse on board. I was imagining the worse. I responded by asking the conductor where to go and he pointed to the left and said “car 2”. I got up and quickly, but carefully made my way down the narrow corridor, swaying to and fro, trying not to lean into someone’s lap along the way. I felt as if I was in the movie “Murder on the Orient Express”- a strange American on a train full of French citizens on their way to London. When I reached the car, I noticed 2 women already there, an oriental young female surgeon and a nurse attending to a young thin Indian male in his late 30’s lying down partially on a seat with his back against the window. Being a gynecologist with limited resources on a train, I listened to his miserable story. He was having chest pain since he got on the train and denied any shortness of breath. . He was in Paris getting a second opinion about his aggressive bladder cancer, unusual for such a young man. He had gone thru multiple cystoscopies and chemotherapy, but was obviously having complications with his treatments. He seemed desparate giving us his long tortuous history. All we could do was listen patiently. The young Asian colorectal surgeon listened intensely. We both concluded that this young man’s chest pain was indeed from a musculoskeletal strain from moving his luggage onto the train, and not a heart attack. After reassurance, I swayed back to my seat several cars down and I reflected on how lucky we are to have our health; to be grateful and thankful that we don’t have to worry and agonize about a serious medical condition. I’m no good at being noble, but our perceived problems in life don’t really amount to a hill of beans since you can always run into someone else who has it a hell of a lot worse than we do. I smiled and nodded to my wife as we approached London, delighted to be able to enjoy merry ole England with our health intact.

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