A blind man and his gastritis

Not only is family practice about taking care of patients and their illnesses, it is also learning to know the patients as people.

Elroy Yoder* is a semi-retired businessman who came to the office today for a follow-up visit for hypertension. You would never know this unassuming 70-year-old struck blind by glaucoma is a multimillionaire.

His visit today is fairly routine and as he guides himself out of the exam room with his red-tipped white cane in hand, I thought back to a year ago when he nearly died of blood loss because he could not see the blood he was passing in bowels. It was not until he passed out on the floor of the bathroom and his wife found him in a pool of blood that he was brought to the hospital. His hemoglobin  (blood count) was significantly decreased at 6 grams. Fortunately his situation stabilized quickly with a couple of units of transfused blood and treatment for his bleeding gastritis caused by bacteria, Helicobacter Pylori ( H. Pylori).

As a footnote about H. Pylori. I am truly amazed as I enter my l9th year in private practice that there continue to be milestone advances in medicine. H. Pylori, only this decade was discovered to be a major cause of gastritis and stomach ulcers and in most cases, it can be cured by taking a combination of antibiotics just as it was in Mr. Yoder’s case.

Anyway, I am glad that Mr. Yoder was cured and now continues to enjoy a healthy life. His wife has been alerted to watching for any future episodes of bleeding, and I think I have finally convinced a fairly stubborn gentleman about the benefits of taking his blood pressure medicines.