Thursday, July 7, 2011

When Doctors Cry

I was on my way to the Emergency Room when I heard someone calling my name. It was a former classmate in medical school. She was sitting outside the ER, teary eyed. “It’s my father.” she said. “He has metastatic cancer. Now, he’s unresponsive. His pupils are dilated.”

I didn’t know what to say. Just in the hospital where I work, a consultant had already lost her mother to an illness. Another’s father is loosing lost a fight against an infection. And yet another’s newborn son is fighting for his life.

Her father had prostrate cancer that had spread to his bones. “You know the course of this disease and how painful it is,” I told her hoping to imply that she should take comfort that the suffering would come to an end.

“I know,” she said, “but it’s still so hard.”

“I think I’ve forgotten that I’m a doctor.”

That froze my mind. How are doctors supposed to act and feel when it’s their loved ones who are slipping away? Are we expected to look on impassively, and intellectualize what is happening to loved ones who are suffering from disease?

Whether it’s our fault or not that many think we have power over death – Well, we don’t!

The process of loosing someone is more painful for us than for anyone else because we, of all people, know ahead of the others when nature has chosen it’s course. But we have to suffer with that knowledge, alone, while waiting for the others to accept that it is time to let go. And during that time we can only grieve while in private because showing grief even to family members may destroy what small hope they have left, despite the odds.

To my classmate, “No, you haven’t forgotten that you’re a doctor. You are part of the minority who now knows what it really means to be a doctor.”
blog comments powered by Disqus

Coming Out Clean Blak Magik is Designed by productive dreams for smashing magazine Bloggerized by Ipiet Blogger Templates © 2008