One of the down sides of gaining experience as a doc is that you start to get this vibe from a patient the first time you see them. When I met Mrs. C 3 weeks ago, I thought she was going to die. When the helo dropped her off in the ICU during my night on call, this 75 year old lady with two replaced heart valves and the worst pulmonary hypertension I've ever seen was septic, in cardiac, kidney, and respiratory failure, on 2 drips just to maintain her blood pressure, and the one lung that wasn't whited out by pneumonia was collapsed by fluid. That whole night I thought she was going to die on me.
After 3 1/2 weeks, she transferred to a rehab facility. Her lungs, kidneys, and heart are working again, and she's back to enjoying her afternoons of watching the Food Network and WWF (Seriously, I'm not kidding--this little old lady loves her some WWF) and chatting with her husband about how the kids and grandkids are doing.
Things don't usually end well in these situations, and it's nice to see a patient come out on the up side of a really dismal situation. Kinda helps make all that time off the bike and up all night feel worthwhile.