Friday, August 16, 2013

It makes a difference. Or not.

I had an interesting experience recently that was only marginally linked to leukemia, but it's my blog so I can put whatever I want up.

Recently, it seemed that a patient had a turning point after I said to the family that if loving someone alot could keep them here, their loved one would not die. They said, "I don't want Sidney to die" and I said, "If loving someone a lot could keep them here, s/he would not die." I'm not quite sure why that was the response I made out of the hundreds of potential responses to their statement. It seemed to help (maybe not; maybe I'm just being self congratulatory) and I was glad I said it.

It made me think of the last time I spoke a similar thought--the first day of my chemo. Eva and John had come to hang out with me and distract me while what I thought was my strongest defense mechanism (denial) was being destroyed. How can you deny that you have cancer when some one in a space suit is advancing on you with a vial of bright red liquid? I was worried about what might happen/how I might feel and react when she showed up with it so I asked my kind friend and her husband to distract me. I ended up telling John and Eva my story and it turned out to be an ideal strategy for me. I remember opening the story by telling them that because my mother died when I was seven, I had always known that it didn't matter how much you loved someone or how much you needed them, they could still die. What I said to my patient's family is a kinder version of that. It may be that that was the unspoken thought they were having in "I don't want Sidney to die" and I recognized it and was able to respond to it. At any rate, I felt lucky to have been there.

People talk about doctors using their life experience as a lens through which we view the experiences of patients. I think this is an example of that.

I am grateful that my loved ones are around me and hopeful for a long continuation of that.

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