My late husband was a member of a Rotary Club and every now and then we chatted to a psychiatrist who was a fellow Rotarian. He asked why I was so keen to speak to a psychiatrist who had a child with a mental illness. I explained that I needed someone who could empathize with me; someone whose knowledge did not come from a textbook. “Would you only consult with a female gynecologist?” he asked once, and I have to admit that I did not have a ready reply.
Some years later, I met him at a lecture and happened to ask after his wife His body sagged as he told me that she was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. “I’m so sorry,” I told him. “And I’m so sorry that I dared give advice to patients and their families on how to deal with Alzheimer’s. As it turns out, I knew nothing about it and have only gained knowledge since I’ve been forced to live with my wife’s illness.”
I admired his strength of character – the fact that he’d been able to say something that many professionals would not have dared to do. He was no longer the same person we’d known which was a real eye-opener for me.