Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Dr. Gupta becomes the patient
In my entire life, I have never taken a sick day. Now, I know that is not necessarily anything to be proud about - but I really just never get sick. Through hundred hour-plus work weeks as a neurosurgical resident and even two small children, I have been remarkably immune. So, as I lay around the last several days nursing a broken hand, I started to go a little stir crazy. I don't like simply sitting around or being pushed into some sort of forced relaxation. Still, there I was. Feeling sorry for myself and driving my wife crazy.

For me, it started while covering the wildfires in San Diego. Getting by on just a couple of hours of sleep several days in a row finally caught up with me. I was walking toward my live shot location, when I suddenly found myself at the bottom of a flight of stairs. I was so tired that I never even saw them, until I was lying flat on my back at the bottom of them. Of course, as I heard people scurrying toward me to see if I was OK, I immediately sprang to my feet - mainly out of embarrassment. "I'm alright," I shouted for all to hear. At the same time, I took my wildly distorted left ring finger and twisted it back into place. That hurt. Badly. It was the sort of core pain that nearly drops you to your knees. Even then, I thought it was just a bad sprain.

So, I continued on to my colleague Kiran Chetry. She took one look at me and asked, "What's wrong?" "What?" I replied. "Nothing." She's one of those women who just knows when something is off --- or maybe I was grimacing like a crazy man. Who knows? I still did a couple of segments about my investigations the day before, all the time watching my hand balloon up to the size of a boxing glove. Chris Gajilan, my producer, had enough and off to the ER we went.

At Scripps hospital in San Diego, they could not have been nicer. While telling me how badly messed up my hand was, they still smiled. The ER doctor walked in, chuckled in an amused way and said the hand surgeon was already on his way in. It was 4 a.m. Turns out, I had a spiral fracture of my fourth metacarpal on my left hand. That's a pretty nasty fracture where the bone not only breaks, but also rotates. "Could I wait to go home for the operation?" I asked. After all, I wanted to follow up with my own doctors in Atlanta. Reluctantly, they agreed.

Two days later I lay in the holding room at Emory Clinic, while Dr. Gary McGillivary sharpened his knives in the next room. He quickly placed two pins in my hand to hold me in place, and then a cast to hold the pins in place. Honestly, I barely remember anything. They gave me 2 mg of Versed, which is an antegrade amnesiac, and I slept through the whole thing. Lightweight.

Well, I wanted to blog today (it took me two hours to do this as I am typing with one finger) to simply say thank you to all the nice people who have e-mailed and sent their well wishes. By all reports, I will be fine. Within another few weeks, I hope to be back to operating myself. My hand surgeon is confident that won't be a problem. In fact, just yesterday, my physical therapist told me I was the best patient she had ever worked with. My wife wasn't buying it.
Best wishes to a speedy recovery.
What is the prognosis for your recovery? How soon before you are able to operate again? (Now you know how it feels to be told take it easy!)

Renee Garris-Shaver
Moseley, VA
Dr. Gupta;

Please listen to your wife and doctor. I've heard that those in the medical profession make the worst patients.


Vicki K.
Chesapeake VA
Dr. Gupta! I'm surprised! Normally Doctors make the worst patients.....
Nasty fall..regardless of how anyone tells you how to fall to prevent broken bones (lots of horseback riding and falling off here..) in the moment, it's a different story....
PT really works, so continue to be the best patient!
Looking forward to your report on the VA.
Jayne Ferguson
Los Angeles, CA
Hi Doc, I did notice the bandage on your hand and i thought you cut yourself while cutting vegetables.
Be gentle on yourself. Don't stab yourself in the operating room:-)
Do some homework on Colbert in the mean time. He rips you apart mercilessly. I can give you some tips to kick him left, right and at the center. I do like Steven wrt certain views but not all.
Dr. Gupta:

Take this as a sign...slow down dear one!

Glad you will be well!
I am so so sorry you hurt your hand. I was wondering why you weren't blogging much. Get well soon doc. I need a subject to write a comic love talk blog on and your my favorite.

Your fan

Hi Dr. Gupta,

Sorry to hear about your hand. When I was ten-years-old, I broke both of my wrists at the same time. A month later, I broke my right pinky finger and re-broke my right wrist. Best of luck for a speedy recovery.
Dear Sir,

I saw your comment about working a 100 hours a weeks, two questions:

1. Does the current system of medical education preclude a more normal person from becoming a doctor? Do you have to be super healthy in order to become a doctor?
2. Do you feel that working a 100 hours a week impedes your performance as a doctor?

Thank you for your reporting about medicine. It is very interesting.
So sorry about your hand! I guess that means you were not able to run the ING NYC Marathon on November 4th?

Take care...
Dear Dr.Sanjay ^^

I saw your left hand was bandaged when I was watching on "ac360" Planet in peril roundtable discussion 4v-mailsQ&A last Thursday 8th. So I was very surprised. I muttered myself "Sanjay!! what's going on?" I was surprised like this. How was your family surprised furthermore.

Since that show I have been wondering about your bandaged hand.
Andthen,I presumed that something heavy droped on it, or it was burned, or fight with someone.(I'm sorry. I'll apologize if you felt an unpleasant feeling about my comment.) Also, I have been since Thursday worried about your left hand. I'm so glad you have decided to cover about your bandage hand. so timely!!

"Dr.Gupta becomes the patient." It makes me smile. The title name is brilliant. You surely seem like a fun and delightful person.

Sometimes bad things turn out to be blessing. It might be the painful time to you at this period with your hand bandaged. On this opportunity, you would better get some rest and enjoy your spare time with your family. I really hope.

It's really amazing that you typed that long sentence with one finger for two hours.Wow~ Is your one finger all right?? In Seoul, they call the person who types with one finger so called an "eagle typing"

Maybe this time pass to a memory soon. I hope you meet a recollection with smile :-) We are share joys and sorrows with you.
Always take care to avoid an accident. Sincerely I hope you feel better soon. Thank you so much for this posting. Bravo!!!
Also I like your blog very much...
Your blog contains a lot of useful info.I'm so grateful to you and your crew. ~bye~
Ok ... I thought you were hot before - intelligent, nice smile, pleasant demeanor. Now I discover that you are a klutz too?! You have just moved to the top of my crush list. Gotta love a self-deprecating man!

Get well soon and I hope your wife isn't too hard on you ... it's tough being the patient!

Marcella Potts-Fletcher
Seminole, Florida
Dr. Guptaji:


My prayers for your early recovery.

You are a down to earth reporter and we learn a lot from you.

Suru Manek
Los Angeles, CA
Hello Dr. Gupta,
I've watched your comments and insights when you give us wonderful information relative to a current news article and always find them interesting and informative. As a mere bystander, I offer you some of your own advice. It is very important to get enough sleep, day in and day out. I think it's time your re-examine your schedule and make your health just as important as the information you supply to the public.

Here's hoping for a speedy recovery!
Oh, the 2 mg shot of Versed! From working as a nurse in the emergency department for 15 years I can honestly say that you never 'slept' through anything!! Chances are, you were awake and talking but you just don't remember anything about the whole ordeal. I've had some pretty interesting conversations with patients while they had that stuff for procedures. I usually ended up laughing my head off while trying to get the job done. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to see/hear what you were talking about....
Always a first time for everything:) Anyway, hope you have a speedy recovery, and definitely keep up the good work!

You are such a breath of fresh air! Get well soon.
Hello Dr Gupta

Sorry to hear about your acident and I wish you a speedy recovery.

Take some of your own advise - get plenty rest and you will be fine. Also follow your doctors advice.

Dear Dr Gupta,
I was very surprised when I saw your bandaged hand on TV. I hope you will feel better soon.

You are always incredibly busy as both a doctor and a journalist, so please take care of yourself...
Dr. Gupta,
From an RN who just had the experience of being the patient, I understand what you are saying! The experience gives you an entirely different view. Best wishes for a speedy recovery and back to normal. I throughly enjoy your reporting and think you are such an asset to CNN.

Get well soon!
Mary Lou
Dr. Gupta,

I feel for you since I did about the same thing. I broke the fifth metacarpal in my right hand in September. I'm in college currently and am thankful that I have a laptop to take notes. I'm right handed and writing was impossible.

I, too, thought it was a bad sprain. I work as a cook and I worked three days before I finally went to the doctor.

Since then I've seen a very nice Orthopedic doctor several times and am cast-free. But I still have pain at the site of the break so I try to be as careful as possible.

Good Luck!
Dr. Gupta,

I agree with "Anonymous"........

Listen to your wife.

Keep Smiling!

Cassie Pisano
Denver, CO.
Thank you for leting us know what happened to you. I was concerned about your bandaged hand.
I hope it does not hurt too much when the weather changes as my knee does.

I hope you get well very soon and thank you for your reporting. I love your simple smile and the expert advice.
Look at it this way, it is one thing to preach it, another to live it. As doctors, we're better at what we doing having the true experience of being a patient with all that comes with it.

I know as a pediatrician, I'm much better at my job now that I'm a mom and having had a few health issues arise with my kids. It puts my families concerns in a new light now when I hear them raised.

Here's to a speedy recovery!
Glad to hear your on your way to a speedy and successful recovery.
Hope you get better as soon as possible...we need regular blog postings. : ) Have a happy, healthy Thankgiving.
Dr. Gupta,
I hope you will be feeling better soon. I know how hard it is to lay around with an injury. I had a tri-malleoular(sp?)fracture of my ankle, so I know what you are going through. I'm a big fan of yours! Get well soon,
Dr. Sanjay,

Best wishes for a speedy recovery and a return to the great work you do everyday. I just finished watching your eye-openening investigative report on injured veterans.The stories featured touched me deeply. Thanks for all you do.
Providence, Rhode Island
Wow, Dr. Gupta! My girls and I had no idea you were relaxing and getting on your wife's nerves.(hee, hee) We really admire you, and have learned a lot from just listening to your many "house call" segments. We wish you a speedy recovery and back on the fast pace scene sooooooooon.
Cheryl, Tara & Charnelle
Doc,dont ya do that again,would miss you on Cnn..So happy that your ok.Best wishes to you,and to your family
I am a big fan of yours and sorry to hear of your mishap. I hope you heal well and quickly. Maybe that's trying to tell you that you're trying to do too much :-)Slow down, we need you.
Please convey my sympathies to your wife. I'm married to a doctor, and am mom to one son who is in his residency and two sons still living with us who are in the process of applying for residencies. I know what she is going through! I can confirm that doctors are the worst patients. Thankfully, mine seldom get sick.

I am glad that you are going to make a full recovery. It had to be a bit scary as a surgeon to have such a serious hand injury.
Dr. Gupta-
I have always thought you were an amazing journalist and doc. To me able to accomplish both and still raise a family............my hat is off to you! The fact that you're handsome, on top of all that....what can I say. Your the best. Get well.
Nancy in San Francisco
Dear Dr. Gupta, I am sorry about your accident. At least you didn't break anything else, it helps to be flexible. I'm glad that you are making a speedy recovery. I'll be seeing you on CNN, when I can.
Dr. Gupta,

Glad to hear that you will be fully recovered soon - those hands are valuable! I really enjoy your medical segments on CNN (as a med student) and wish you a speedy recovery (to work and to picking up the kids).

Jeff K.
Norfolk, VA
As one of your fellow Wolverines (freshman year - 3rd Hayden - East Quad), I enjoying seeing your reports on CNN. I was especially interested in your coverage of the recent California wildfires (I live near the burn area from the Santiago fire in Orange County). I was very sorry to hear that you injured your hand.

I had surgery last November to repair damage in my dominant hand (the tendon had adhered to the tissue inside the carpal tunnel - wierd...). My surgeon and occupational therapist were great! The surgeon estimated that it would take one year for my hand to fully recover and she was very accurate. OT was great and although the exercises can seem very strange, they work.

So hang in there - and listen to your colleagues on this one. I wish you the best during your recovery and we'll keep watching you on CNN.

Melanie Graham
Mission Viejo, California
"Getting by on just a couple of hours of sleep several days in a row finally caught up with me." Doctors do not practice what they preech! I love your reports but I always wonder how you do it. Now I know that you are getting in debt with your body.

I think sleep deprivation is becoming more and more like epidemic in our society and the worst is that we are teaching our children we do not need to sleep.

I am witnessing a trend in schools overworking children, especially teens, leaving them 4 to 6 hours of sleep at night. Then we wonder why the American children perform average or below average in Math and Science compare to other childtren in industrialized nations. Take care of yourself and sleep.

Dear Dr. Gupta,
So sorry to hear about your on-the-job fracture - occupational hazard, indeed! Please slow down and smell the roses. The world (and CNN, of course) needs Dr. Sanjay Gupta in perfect health for a long, long time! you are super.
Susheela Nathan, M.D., Florida
(Your ardent fan)
Hello Doc,

I watch your segments with great anticipation, you always know what to say to ease the concern of the american public. It is a genuine bedside manner that many of us have come to expect and appreciate.

What can you say to yourself in this case where it was more important to continue to work while risking your personal health. What can we gather from this incident that will help us? I say this with the greatest level of respect and courtesy.

We pray a speedy recovery.
Spiral fx usually heals pretty good in the hand. You should get an Exogen stimulator to speed the healing. Good luck. You do great work.
Ouch! I haven't ever heard of a doctor getting hurt, but I guess they do after your nasty and unfortunate fall.

Hope you recover fast!
Hi Dr. Gupta!

I am so sorry to hear about your fall (and glad that it wasn't any worse!) I myself fell and broke my left wrist this summer (on Mother's Day, nonetheless...oh, and did I mention that I did so right in front of my 5-year old daughter? I digress...) I know exactly what you're going through now...learning to adjust to life one-handedly, hour-long-to-type EMAIL messages, sore and tired, etc. ad nauseum. Hang in there and know that we're all pulling for you to recover quickly and well.

Best wishes and happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

-Jennifer in Kansas
Speedy Recovery-
As a coordinator for 19 residents, i find it interesting that you choose to work 100 hour work weeks knowing what that can do to a physician........sometimes we need these big events to get us to refocus on what is truly important in this life.
Perhaps your 100 hour work-week is not it.
NJ girl
Dr. Gupta,

I too experienced your exact injury on the second day of school at Marquette University in ‘02. I am excited I have something in common with someone I look up to and aspire to be like. My broken hand gave me time to realize how much I had and how much my family loved me. It was through Marquette stressing “Cura Personalis”, “Care for the Whole Person” and post-grad experiences like teaching, working at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Pediatric Hospital I recently decided to explore medicine as a career. But it was through “Grady’s Anatomy,” and your journalism that reaffirmed my calling. I saw you on TV, listened to how you communicated to your residents, the importance you placed on teaching. Through you I have seen medicine as a place where my talents can naturally meet the demand of those in need. Because of you I saw medicine as a place where my abilities and care for the whole person could be utilized. Its funny the pain you described and the frustration with typing are all things I experienced and overcame. I hope your broken hand doesn’t force you to think what you haven’t been able to do, but what you have been able to do, and those you have helped. Keep it elevated and no boxing!

Best Regards,
Mike Pippin
You know that space between the top of the stairs and the bottom...that's the twilight zone! Glad to hear you survived it. ;) Get well soon.

Dr. Gupta,

Doctor, I hope you realize how blessed you are. You have a wife and two children, a multi-facted fascinating career, and respect, to name just a few things. Please take this injury as a "wake-up call." 100 hour work weeks? Your wife is a widow; your children are fatherless. Please don't let the time with the most important people in your life slip away. Your children will be grown and gone in the blink of an eye, and where will you be? A room full of awards and commendations makes for sad company. May God continue to bless you and your family.

Vikki Rice
Villa Rica, GA
Dr Gupta:

Yes, I also notice your bandaged hand on Larry King the other night. I am also in the healthcare profession, I know how compliant we can be. Please listen to your doctor and wife. Speedy recovery.
Dear Dr. Gupta,

Best wishes for a speedy recovery! I can only imagine how painful that injury must have been. I so enjoy watching you on CNN. Keep up the great work. We need people like you in this country who care about others so much!

Marsha Mood
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
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