Thursday, September 27, 2012

In The Midst Of Tragedy

At first it's a little daunting.  A friend or colleague approaches you to take care of their parent. You pause for just a second before accepting.  Do you really want to get involved in this person's life?  But it is a compliment after all.  They are entrusting the well being of their loved one in your hands.

You tread lightly.  You spend extra time teasing out the symptoms.  You explain each diagnostic test and medication.  Days or years go by. Usually they get better, sometimes they don't.  But eventually tragedy ensues.

And you're calling your colleague or friend in the middle of the night.  You don't mince words, you tell them the end is near.  Physician to physician, friend to friend, there must be a level of truth and certainty. 

The appropriate orders are written.  Morphine and ativan.  Hopefully you can avoid the IV's and diagnostic tests.  While looking into the teary eyes of the family you again question whether you should have gotten involved.

The truth is, you will honor your friendship.  You will bath their relative in a cocoon of loving care.  Because you owe at least that much.  Because you will do it better than others.  Because you will be there to comfort and explain patiently in the midst of tragedy.

We do these things for acquaintances.

In fact, we do these things for complete strangers also.  Every patient eventually becomes like family.  We care for them as if their sons and daughters were our best friends.  We shower them with the best we have to offer because that is the covenant we make when we usher them through our exam room doors.

It's an intimate relationship between doctor and patient.

Even more intimate than with friends and colleagues.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really love your pieces, but I do think that your message would come across more powerfully if you were a little more careful with your spelling. I hate to be the one who says it, because I was the student with the horrible penmanship who didn't understand why teachers made such a fuss about it. But, as someone who truly appreciates your work, I do want to let you know that, unfortunately it does detract from the wonderful content you post. The solution is easy: type in word (or anything that automatically corrects grammar) and double-check the spelling of words you are less familiar with by quickly searching for them in Google. It's very easy to take these precautions, and it will increase the quality and reach of your work. In this post, the word is not dyer but dire, and you should also be careful about compound words - rebranding is just one word, for example, not two separate ones.

Thanks, and I'll keep reading!