Wednesday, September 24, 2014


One of my favorite drug reps asked me to share a story from the early days of her career.

I was calling on a cardiologist's office. They said the doctor needed samples, and would be out in a few minutes to sign for them.

Being a rep is a LOT of waiting in lobbies, and I'm used to it. There was a sweet looking elderly lady in a chair, who'd been asleep when I came in. When I was talking to the front desk she woke up, and when I stepped away said "that's a beautiful necklace."

It's my grandmother's necklace, and is an unusual piece. I'm quite proud of it. She asked me the story behind it, so I sat down  and chatted with her for a few minutes. Then I had to take a call from my partner. She picked up a magazine, but quickly dozed off again.

A few minutes went by, a patient left, and the doctor came up front. He signed for my samples, then cheerily called "Mrs. Dozer, come on back!"

Mrs. Dozer, however, was still asleep. The good doctor said "Can you give her a gentle tap? She's quite hard of hearing."

So I went over and softly shook her shoulder. "Mrs. Dozer, time for your appointment."

She fell, limply, out of the chair.

The doctor leaped over the front desk into the lobby and yelled for his nurse to call 911. In spite of his heroic efforts, however, Mrs. Dozer was gone.

I called my boss and told her I was going home. I didn't go back to work the next day, either. And I still have a visceral reaction when an elderly patient asks about my necklace.


migraineur said...

A friendly person to talk to, and a peaceful death, that's something many people would envy.

peace said...

Chill down the spine.
May she rest in peace.

Shellye said...

This story gave me chills...

Bobbi said...

What a lovely way to die.

But, yeah, more than a bit disconcerting for Ms. Nicerep.

bobbie said...

Healing hugs for Ms. NiceRep ~
Bless you for talking with her.

Packer said...

It stands to reason that it would stick in your mind. It is not everyday that you transition someone...." he who plants kindness sows love...."
Being kind to someone at the end of their life is only right, and having the opportunity come and not taking advantage of it is tragic.

The Patient Doc said...

I love caring for the elderly, and there is something truly special about being there for them when they pass. But I've never had anyone die in my waiting room and I 'd find that quite unsettling too.

tbd88 said...

While I agree that it's not a bad way to go at all, to be talking about a necklace one minute and then dozing off with a magazine and... gone, it would be unsettling to say the least for anybody that was there.

Anonymous said...

That was certainly memorable (and inspirational) for the woman whose job it was to represent a drug company to various medical practitioners.

It's a little interesting about drug reps. They come from all walks of life. Some are pharmacists or have a background in biology. Ten years ago, and I still recall the rep who brought homemade orange essence chocolate chip cookies from his wife. I've worked other places, and everyone that was around when reps could bring stuff, remembers him. He also provided C.E. and educational resources from his company, but he was known in a radius of hundred miles for those homemade cookies. I don't remember the company, but I sure do recall us fighting for the second round after everyone had one.

I think it's also interesting for the docs that give a company-sponsored talk about a particular drug, to lend a particular level of credibility to the product's benefits and provide a little moonlight. (As a pharmacist, it's my job and entertainment to sit through these talks to figure out how the argument is constructed to minimize potentially distracting and misleading information.) Twenty-five years ago, statistical analysis was not part of my pharmacy school curricula, but it's been a necessary prerequisite for at least a couple decades in larger programs.

Starting out in healthcare as an aide in a nursing home, I, too, felt blessed in my job when a patient died so peacefully. In one case, I was helping a cachectic man with his breakfast in his room. He had bone mets (must've been in constant pain) and I tried to make time to stop in and visit--not often enough, I think. This particular morning, we had a beautiful sunrise, purple, pink, rose, and I was describing if for him while he was sipping his juice. He raised himself up on his elbow, and then quietly slipped away. I stayed with him while I rang the bell for the nurse to come. Why not? Even I, just out of high school, recognized there wasn't any more hoops to jump through in this man's life.

Thanks Dr. G. for this tribute to your favorite rep.

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