Happy Monday, and welcome to Medical Mondays! Apparently, I was mistaken about the actual date of Doctor’s Day. The hospital I’m at jumped the gun and decided to celebrate it along with the kickoff to the weekend, so my apologies on any confusion, and happy actual-Doctors’ Day!
I didn’t manage to gain access to the physicians’ lounge for chocolate-covered strawberries, but I did get a super-delicious + fancy lunch! <3
This week’s topic is different from what I’d originally planned, but we’re gonna go with it, because it’s an extremely important one.
I’ve always been terrible about politely extracting myself from conversations, mostly because I really enjoy talking with my patients, and because I think it’s rude to interrupt people unless absolutely necessary.
Back in my days volunteering at Paul Hom Asian Clinic, I remember some of our patients often came by just to hang out in the waiting room, not to actually be seen by a doctor or anything, but to socialize with other patients (or with us). I was always happy to see them and to know that they were doing well, and I think at the end of the day, apart from any physical ailments and/or health conditions, a lot of people are just lonely and want someone to talk to, to know that someone’s listening to them, and that someone out there cares about them.
It makes a huge difference in care when your patients know/feel that you really care about them.
As I mentioned in my Day in the Life post, I usually round on my patients in the morning and write up my notes on them (one of the 4th-years complimented me on my notes over the weekend! :D!) before meeting up with the FM team. On Friday, however, I was scheduled to do OMT on a patient who was having headaches, so I had to cut my usual visit with one of my [preceptor’s] patients a little shorter.
I went back later on to talk with her, since my afternoons were generally freer, but that was also cut short because she had to go off for a carotid ultrasound, so I promised I’d come back when I finished up my day.
This past Friday was Matt’s last day on FM (nooooo :'( ), so we went out to dinner to celebrate, since he has only 6 weeks left til he’s done with his 4th-year rotations. Not gonna lie, this week is going to be kinda lonely, because he’s been seriously awesome, but I’m really happy for him!
When I got back to the hospital after dinner, she was asleep, and I had an internal debate about whether I should wake her up to let her know I was there. She’d been having trouble sleeping and I felt really guilty about waking her, so I wrote her a note and decided to switch her cell phone battery to the charged one before leaving.
In so doing, I accidentally woke her up, but she said she was glad I did. We talked for hours (I ended up getting home close to midnight–good thing the hospital knows me and didn’t kick me out? 😛 ), and I found out a lot about her life story.
She is a spectacular lady, with such a loving and giving heart. I love her sense of humor, and I was incredibly inspired by how she still tries to see the good in everyone, despite how much she’s gone through in her life. Somewhere in our conversation, she said this to me:
I know I haven’t known you for very long, but I can tell that you’re a really special person. You don’t even know me, and you’re here on your own time just to listen to me ramble. You’re so sweet and kind, and just you being here, talking to me, treating me like an actual human being and making me feel like you really care about me…that’s helped me so much–more than you’ll ever know. You’ve restored my faith in young people.”
I rarely tear up over things (my crying usually comes from anger/frustration vs. sadness), but for serious, I was so touched by the things she said to me that I actually teared up. ;_;
What makes me sad about that statement, however, is that treating a patient as an actual human being should be standard practice. That shouldn’t be something that someone has to thank anyone for. Letting them know that you care about them as a person and that you’re going to do the best you can to treat them should be something that you would not be wrong to expect.
As a medical student, I still have the time (kindasorta) to spend with my patients, and I’d like to keep that up for as long as I can. I may not be able to do much right now, but at least I can be a good listener! :]
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s #DishTheFit on who inspires me to stay healthy!