Thursday, November 12, 2009

The nature of suffering -1

One of the hardest experiences as a caregiver is to accompany Jan to a Doctor's appointment only to verify that the Doctor is dealing, talking and relating to the "illness" rather to the person. Jan picks up on this and reacts angrily, and having some damage to her frontal lobe cortex, she cannot control her emotions or the way the show up. I probably feel the same way, but I keep my emotions in check and act with civility towards the doctors. I am beginning to rethink often my reactions and I am wondering if I it would be more honest to just let the doctors have it from both, Jan and I. Where did the clinicians got the idea that what they are seeing is an illness and not a suffering person? Some get it. Our family doctor, a young woman from Middle-eastern background, is one of the few that actually looks Jan in the eyes instead of fixing her attention to the chart.

What is more important in our health care system, the cure for an illness of the care of the patient (the sufferer)? I don't know what most people think when they organize marches, walks, runs and many other ways of fund-raising for cancer, diabetes, blindness, when the reality is that there is no cancer, but a person suffering from cancer, etc. Is it that in this large health organizations we have lost the person and got stuck with illnesses? As a sociologist said a half a century ago about the pervasive positivism in social sciences that emphasized more the quantification of social life over the persons: Bring people back in! The same can be said for the health sciences, maybe a little less science and more caring for suffering human beings would do more.

I hope that the way our family doctor relate to Jan is not an anomaly but rather the new paradigm of clinical practice. Once she told a neurosurgeon when he was talking to me about her while she was sitting next to me: "Why don't you ask me, I am a human being also!"


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