As part of the NephJC Summer Book Club we are blogging our way through Vanessa Grubbs' Hundreds of Interlaced Fingers. Scherly Leon submitted the summary for the first chapter.
In the opening chapter we meet twenty-six-year-old Robert Phillips, who finally decides to see his primary care doctor after months of not feeling well. The first paragraph is classic, a young person who, although he doesn’t feel well, chooses to ignore or explain away all the symptoms hoping that it would go away.
It turns out that Robert has to see a physician assistant because his primary doctor, Dr. Debra Daniel, is not available. This paragraph provides a glimpse of how many patients feel, they often form very close bonds with their doctors. He describes Dr. Daniel as being pretty, cool and like a big sister. The physician assistant provided care, obtained urine and blood samples and then told him to go home to wait for the results. It turns out that Robert’s suspicions were accurate, he received a call within two hours from Dr. Daniel that he must go to the Emergency Room.
In the emergency room he is met by his nephrologist, Dr. Kravitz, who doesn’t even recognize him as one of his patients and informs him that his kidneys are failing. Robert dislikes Kravitz who took over when his first nephrologist Dr. Gorman retired. Dr. Gorman unlike Kravitz took an interest in his life, insisted he follow up regularly, and explained the test results. He liked Dr. Gorman.
Dr. Kravitz continued to speak at Robert who was overwhelmed. Even though he was warned ten years ago that this day would come he felt like he was being punched. He would have to start dialysis. When he was sixteen years old on his way to see Dr. Gorman for the first time he walked past a dialysis unit and he remembered telling his mother he’d rather die than do dialysis. He is now faced with the choice, he must either go on dialysis or die. Robert chose dialysis. When he woke up in the acute dialysis unit he was attached to a dialysis machine. Although the machine looked like a five by two foot monster to him the experience wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be.
Robert’s life was forever changed. He went from thinking about his career and future wife to wondering if he would have to move back home with his parents, stop working, and remain single for the rest of his life. His hope, though unclear at this point, was that maybe he wouldn’t have to remain on dialysis for long.