Patient comes in for a checkup, I'm finishing up and he says, "oh, there's one more thing." Which is always the thing they actually came in for and should have said first.
"I've been using drugs for about a year, and I want to stop."
"That's great that you want to stop. What drug?"
"Oh, a lot of them."
"I'd rather not say. I also want to quit smoking."
"Well, that's terrific."
And we talk for the next fifteen minutes about approaches to quitting, and some outpatient programs I can get him involved with, and a schedule of follow-up appointments so we can keep track of his progress and he can feel like we're in this with him... and I'm going to the computer to print out a couple of prescriptions, so I tell him to sit tight for just a minute and I'll be right back. I get up, go to the computer, am back within three minutes... and he's gone.
I don't know if the idea of treatment scared him and he ran, I don't know if he just needed to talk to someone, if he wasn't really ready to quit, I don't know. So we'll send the information to the address on file, and hope he comes back... but, wow, I was really surprised he took off like that.
I mean, I thought I was doing good. I thought I was helping him, I thought I was making a difference. Finally, a problem we can sort of solve. A problem that doesn't end with me saying there's nothing more we can do and sending someone home to die. And he leaves. Argh.