A while ago someone mentioned in the comments that he'd like to read more about my experiences with (my) patients. The dilemma with writing about my patients is that I might divulge too much. Even if you leave out the names, one can always guess from other pieces of information I give. What I write about my patients differs from what you'd read in a medical journal - on the blog I don't care about heart rate, systolic blood pressure or dyspnea. I write (or would want to write) about people.
About a mother of three girls - all younger than 7 - who was recently diagnosed with lymphoma.
About a young man in his twenties, who kept going - having two jobs, helping in his father's workshop, studying at University, moving between flats - until he contracted a severe cold. Because the illness was so severe, he went to see his physician, who diagnosed the man with very severe leukemia.
About the sweetest man in his fifties - who is so very patient with us, students. He's been in the hospital for so long, he's basically our second mentor. I'll never forget how he helped me learn some skills which are essential for any basic physical examination.
About an older man, a farm-owner, who's been healthy all his life, who's worked all his life, but now has to be confined to his hospital bed many days in a month. I'll never forget how he told me - in the simplest words, but with a telling facial expression - about his grief, about his wife, who died a couple years ago. It was a secret exchange of thoughts between us - he spoke a language I understood - and he told me that he missed his wife so very much. It's not that he wasn't thankful - he had many friends, his children and grand-children often came to see him in the hospital - but he missed her still.
As you can see these are very personal stories. People confide in me, they tell me about their lives, their relatives, their own hopes and fears. And I feel I would be letting then down if I wrote (too) much of this on the blog. I don't think I can avoid it alltogether, - no. Since this is going to be an ever bigger part of my life, it is impossible to stay completely silent on the subject - what moved me, a recovery that filled me with happiness, a death that devastated me...
These stories, my patients are the best reminder I have. They tell me - without speaking - every day that regardless of how lost and sad I feel, I still control my life. I have no illness to hinder me, no medical advice to follow, no hospital bed to stay in. Whenever I feel like my life is worthless, I just need to talk to a patient to discover that my fears are nothing compared to theirs. Every time I realize just how much I have, how thankful I should be.
I wouldn't have written this if there wasn't a post on Hirkani's blog to remind me of the subject. To remind me that once a patient told me that in the previous night a patient on the bed next to his, died. He was afraid that he might be next in line. He said he had so much still to live for.
We all do. And we need to remind ourselves every single day of how happy we should be. Just how much life could still offer us. And we should be able to realize this even in the darkest times.