I Can’t Jitterbug Anymore

Throughout my more than 62-year career in medicine, I have seen a steady decline in the level of personalized care that physicians give to patients. This is related to the significant advances in medical technology.

The story of my patient John Bongiovanni illustrates this very well. John owned his own food market. Shortly after he retired in his early 60s, he came to see me with chest pain. It came on occasion when he bowled, he said, and “I can’t jitterbug anymore,” he complained. He used to take his wife out dancing weekly.

Office evaluation revealed he had angina pectoris, which is pain in the chest from hardening of the arteries. He improved with medication and a change in diet.

I continued taking care of John, and became familiar with every aspect of his life. He came in regularly for checkups. After four years, John got worse. He had a heart catheterization and heart surgery. After the procedure, he returned to his activities without chest pain.

I took care of John for more than 20 years before I retired from patient care. Even after I retired, he called me regularly to see how I was doing.

John died at the age of 91. He’d been out dancing the prior week.

The John Bongiovanni story is one example of personal medical care. The emphasis is on the “personal” part. It really involves doctors taking the time to develop meaningful and caring relationships with their patients.

Patients who experiences this type of medical care sorely miss it if it no longer is available. Even those who have never experienced this degree of personal medical attention, still need the reassurance that this type of care provides.

The decline in this type of care today has resulted in a significant loss in an important aspect of medicine.

Norman Makous, M.D.

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