La Coop P.A.- General and Forensic Psychiatry - Boutique-Private Psychiatric and Forensic Practice in Tampa-Clearwater-Florida


December, 2012 - Seasons Greetings


This newsletter is somewhat of a downer in December, but it's something that needs to be written about. I've been involved in the deaths of some patients, though people don't typically see a Psychiatrist as a real doctor. I treat medical issues as well and some very complicated medical patients that have co-morbid Psychiatric problems.

I want to talk with you all about a patient. This is a patient that I have seen for years. It is someone that I cared about very deeply and was able to see not only himself, but his very beautiful and kind wife. One of the themes in our treatment was drug abuse. His drug of choice for many years was marijuana because he said that it helped him sleep (he had horrible PTSD) and it was the only thing that he really took that calmed him down in his opinion. He had many severe consequences due to this drug. One of the consequences was the loss of one of his hands and forearm because while high he got his hand ground in a meat grinder. Due to the surgery that he had, he needed a blood transfusion - he got Hepatitis C from that. Due to the traumatic loss of his hand and the subsequent Hep C, he was depressed and told me that he continued to use marijuana to "heal" that depression. That was until he got laryngeal cancer from that cannabis smoking (he insists that he did not smoke tobacco). He survived that surgery where they cut half of his larynx out and he came out with a very masculine, raspy voice which was somewhat of a signature. He would joke with me allot about it.

He then substituted the cannabis for alcohol and drank to excess nearly every day. He was a very heavy drinker, and though it caused him problems and we discussed the social implications of it (not working to his potential at work, in his marriage and with his children) - he continued to drink. One day while we were talking, he mentioned to me a lump he had and he wanted me to check it out. It was on his thigh and it had been there for a while, but since he knew I was a doctor and we talked about a lot of medical things - I looked at it. I told him he needed to go check it out even though he said that it hadn't changed. It didn't look right to me given the location and shape. He then was diagnosed with Lymphoma.

In the treatment for the Lymphoma he had chemotherapy which was taxing to his liver due to the Hepatitis and the years and years of drinking. However, his lovely wife took her time to prepare organic foods for him, started to help him exercise, spent more time with him, and helped him to cut the alcohol out of his life. He felt better then, than he had in years. Healthy living, caring about himself and those around him that loved him was very enriching. I was happy to see him that way, partly because he was doing so much better,but partly because that only validated to him what I had been trying to teach him all along.

Unfortunately, since this cat had 50 lives given what he had been through, he felt that maybe he could have a drink again since he was feeling better and his chemo was over. He was in remission for the moment. I essentially begged him not to do that. It hadn't been long enough that he was in remission, and he was doing so well. He felt better, and looked better than I had ever seen him. Once the drinking started, the picture got worse, and he spiraled down faster than he had before. This time, he actually got legal implications as a result of his alcohol use and this had never happened in the over 30 years he had been drinking. We then lost touch for a while because he didn't want to pay a no show fee that he needed to. Likely because he was embarrassed that he did me wrong. Then, he emailed me in response to a newsletter and let me know that he missed me and wanted to see me. I emailed him back and let him know that I would stay late or come early to see him as I knew that he moved. He emailed me again, and didn't make an appointment but again reached out to me and said that he missed me. Now, you don't know this person like I do, but for him to say that he missed me was a big deal. For him to use emotion at all was a big deal, but the fact that he knew he could with me - made me happy. It was the result of our work together that he was able to do this without fear. I knew that he was in trouble, and I felt helpless because I can't do anything until people present to me.

I emailed him a couple of weeks ago because I got a feeling about him and I hadn't heard from him. I got an email from his wife who told me that he had esophageal cancer (something he told me in his last email) and that he was having surgery to have it removed. She allowed me into her blog so I could see his story unfold while he was in the hospital. She just emailed me last night to let me know that he died. It was a devastating email to get for myself and my husband (who also knew him due to working for me sometimes and this patient was quite a character).

It's my privilege in my job to hear the stories of people, learn from them and use them to teach others. I created my practice the way it is so that I could do this in the best way that I know how. I know that my patient would have wanted me to tell you his story so that you may learn from it. I know that his life was cut short by his choices. I know that his family loves him and misses him and I do too. People tell me all of the time that they can just "have fun" and drink. They tell me all of the time that this is just one time. I just wish that I could have told him this story. Maybe this would have been the one to get to him.

I hope that you will take this and learn from it in any way that it may touch you. Whether it is you, a friend, or a family member - there are a lot of lessons to learn from his story.

I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday and keep those you love close.

Until next year.

Dr. L

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