“Doctor, what did you need to take out during the surgery?”
“Let me show you.”
I pull out a dry-erase pen. During the post-operative discussion in the Family Center, I often draw out the procedure on a white board. I sketch the basic relationships between the structures and show what was removed and what was preserved.
“We removed this area and the lymph nodes from these areas of the neck." I erase the structures that were taken out. "When you see him he will have an incision here.”
The drawings serve as an additional communication technique. The families seem to appreciate and understand them and they are usually much simpler to interpret than photographs.
Early in my practice, I developed a series of quick line drawings that depict the regions where I spend my professional time: the oral cavity, the pharynx, the larynx, and the neck. I use the pictures in my office notes and in hospital charts and almost all of my notes have at least one drawing. They serve to remind me what I saw and what I need to check at the time of the return visit.
Believe me, I am no artist. Nevertheless, every few years, my residents ask for a demonstration of how I create my drawings. I am gratified when they discover this simple means of communication. I think some of them enjoy it as much as I do.