Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Inspiration Mondays on a Tuesday: Human Doctors

"Doctors?" said Ron looking startled. "Those Muggle nutters that cut people up?" -- J.K. Rowling and The Order of the Phoenix
I rarely read newspapers. I don't like their clutter, the way the pile up in the house, the way I have to stretch my arms out to get it out in front of me so I can read each page. In fact, the only time I read a newspaper is when I'm in an airport, usually because I've found one sitting on a random seat, or it's been handed to me for free by the airline.

I also rarely like doctors.

I was on another work trip today. I left last night and came home today in a haze of snow and the weariness that comes with sleeping in a hotel bed and eating too many free cookies courtesy of the airline voucher I got from a three-hour flight delay. This morning at breakfast, I sat down and opened up the free newspaper that the hotel slipped under my door. I paged through, skimming through the headlines, and came upon this article written by a doctor. It's an article about how doctors often have the unpleasant job of delivering unpleasant news, and how there are teams of people who are training doctors to deliver this news in the most helpful and compassionate ways.

I have had the unfortunate history of having a string of awful doctors: doctors that scared me, doctors that humiliated me, belittled me, made me feel like an absolutely worthless human being, made assumptions about my life, my education, and my home. Doctors that shocked me into silent rage. Doctors that refused to listen, or forgot about me or my family's problems that required important follow-ups that never happened. I avoided doctors for seven years because of these interactions. It took a lot to make me go back.

I've also been extremely fortunate to have a couple of really, really wonderful doctors that have begun to restore my faith in the medical profession. They're rare. RARE.

My journey as a kidney donor has led me down the path of meeting lots of and lots of medical professionals that have run the gamut of the very best to the very worst. And perhaps it is because I'm a little bit older, a little bit bolder, a whole lot healthier, and well, a lot more desperate to make this work that I am more aware of what I need from these people... and I'm becoming a lot more vocal about it.

Doctors: I just want you to learn to talk to the human beings you deal with day to day as... human beings. These are people who have families, responsibilities, hopes, dreams, and disappointments. Maybe those aren't your problem, and maybe they don't have anything to do with your day-to-day life, and maybe you are really, really busy, but you know what? That's just too darn bad, because when you took your Hippocratic oath, you made it your problem. People turn to alternative medicine, ignore your advice, or just plain avoid you because they have lost faith in you, and it's your job to get it back.

Today, I am inspired by this article, and hopeful that doctors and other medical professionals (nurses, I'm looking at you) will spend a few minutes to think about their day-to-day interactions, the words they use, and the tone with which those words are delivered. Those minutes you spend with each person matter more than you could ever know. They make the difference between someone getting help, or giving up on their health. I hope you make it count.

I need you to make it count.

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