“Look at the patient, to listen to the patient, and not be so hastened to write out that prescription and get them out the door”. This was the starting commentary of a long term patient of mine whom I was interviewing recently. She is an intelligent and articulate person and can express herself very well and this is why I always loved and respected her as a person and as patient. In our many years of relationship I have been with her in the ups and downs her life and so as her families’. Several of her family members are also my patient. So, when I requested her this interview, she easily agreed with a smile and a confident composure. Although I told her that the story could be about anything that had impacted her life, she decided that her story should be about doctors and office visits since it had great impact in her and in her family’s life. It was not until the end of the story that I realized this was a great Prescription for Doctors, from Patient.
She went on saying, “Patients like in my case could have more than one issue when I visit a doctor’s office, so which one do we need to talk first this time? In my case I write down a list because I forget often and then I talk one by one and my Primary Care Physician who has the patience of listening through it. I get so aggravated that I have to wait so long just to see him, but its worth it because when I am seeing him, he spends the time, just like you do. I am not just a number, I am not a money-pocket, not just the insurance, it is me, you are concerned about me. That’s important. Sometimes I wait for hours because once I get to see him (my primary care doc) he makes me feel like I am the only patient!”
I know her sister and brother in law, two years ago the brother in law was diagnosed to have pancreatic cancer by me. He is still living as of the date of this interview but he is on his way down. When she went to his topic, she started crying and sobbing, and then her gaze deepened at me, “It started with you, it started with you caring, being sensitive to him as well as to my sister, I appreciate that, the family comes to you more, because you are tenderhearted and you showed that you care, I have faith in you totally, I know when you say I have an ulcer or a polyp, I know that you gonna fix it, it is as simple as it.” as she stated. I was filled with a great grief about her brother in law as well as a tremendous happiness as a physician to hear this from her.
She went on saying, “My wish for myself is that people will see God in me, that I lived, I walked and I talked with God in me. I stopped smoking about a month ago, I smoked a pack and half a day for over four decades, because both you and Dr. PCP (Primary Care Physician) was getting on by behind hiney..I did cold turkey!
For you physicians, Listen, just listen, don’t say wow, I can get her insurance,insurance will pay, its not a money thing, it shouldn’t be, it should not be cattle running through a track for slaughterhouse. It should be truly one to one. When patients and physicians start taking each other seriously, then people will get more healed, not to get God out of the picture.
Listen physicians, you guys are very smart, God had given you the wisdom to learn, he put you on this earth for a reason, that is to help us, that is your purpose on earth. by doing this means is to listen to us whole-hardheartedly to figure out what’s wrong with us.”
Then I asked her about Life changing event in her life and this is what she told me, “A year and half ago my grandson was born. He was born with a collapsed lung and lung deformity. He was in local Children’s Hospital for two and a half months. He was on a heart-lung machine, and on an artificial kidney machine. they told us he would probably not live through the first surgery, they told us he will live “one hour by one hour”. We all put our faith in God and our trust in the doctors, they were always there, they would give us the worst scenario and the best scenario. they always said, “he could live one more hour, one more hour”!
And today he celebrates his first birthday! I am so moved, he is a blessing, just like my brother in law. I have learnt from it to put my trust and faith in God, and to treat people the way you want to be treated. Be kind, be generous, don’t be having negativity, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Like even when my grandson was in the most critical moment, they told us “There’s a chance!”. And he did have a chance, he did make it! And it changed me, made me humble to see the fragility of life.”
Then I asked her, “What do you want people to know about you?” Without much deliberation or pause she went on spontaneously looking at the walls of the exam rooms she went on, “That I smiled all the times, happy and that I had positive attitudes, that I did not walk about being mad about the world, expressing negativity. I am a retired hair dresser, I taught this trade too, I loved it when people came to me and said, “You’re just a great hair dresser, I learnt so much from you!”, it’s nice, it isn’t for the praise or boasting but it is nice to know that you taught somebody something good.”
Magic Bullhorn Moment: “I want my grandchildren to know that their “Nana” was always there, ( she has 11 grand children and 2 great grandchildren), their “Mimi” was always there, no matter if I am mad at them or happy at them, that they can count on me. And that’s important. People need to know that they have family, always through ups and downs. Life is not always good, but you need to know that there’s always a person you can count on. I want my grand and great grand kids to know that they can count on me, so they can say, “Grandma was always there for me, and she always had a smile on her face and she always baked cookies for me”.”