Thursday, February 2, 2012
I have always been cognizant of the pitfalls of taking care of family and friends. I constantly worry that personal feelings will blur the lens of objectivity. On the other hand, I could see where my loved ones would enjoy knowing that their doctor has extra "skin in the game".
Little did I know that a few years later Leslie would be gone,
and I would find out in the worst way.
I couldn't help but sigh as I sat down to the large stack of papers that had collected on the desk in my absence. I stared up at the clock. One hour before my first patient would arrive.
I hugged my shoulders tightly and shuttered. After a week of tropical sun, I wasn't yet ready for the torrent of cold that came with returning to Chicago. My seven day vacation felt like an eternity. Now I was a foreigner in a foreign land.
I grabbed a pen and started to sign. Papers flew right and left as I scanned each document and affixed my eligible scrawl. Ten, twenty, thirty signatures into the pile I stopped abruptly and held up the death certificate.
As I read Leslie's name my heart dropped. Nausea bubbled up from my abdomen. Guilt and remorse wracked my chest.
My partner must have forgotten to tell me that she died when I was gone.
I should have been there!
As the years pass, I no longer differentiate between taking care of loved ones and complete strangers. My fears of losing objectivity have been replaced with reality.
The closeness and personal bonds I form with long term patients are often more durable then ones with mere acquaintances. We suffer, we socialize, and we mourn together. I no longer draw such strict lines.
I believe the covenant between patient and physician is sacred. When I accept a person under my care, I pledge that I will stand by them through good times and bad. It is my duty.
But the problem is, when you oversee thousands of patients, it's like you always have a loved one in crisis.
No matter how hard I try to prepare for each vacation, I generally return to some type of tragedy or another. And I wish I could have been there to fulfill my covenant as promised. But what is one to do? I am only human!
I really look forward to the 1-2 weeks each year I leave the practice and go on vacation.
I kind of dread them to.
Posted by Jordan Grumet at 6:41 AM