Dear doctor, you might be a patient one day …


hospital doctor Dear Doctor,

One day you might have the misfortune to be on the other side of the medical system and become a patient. A nurse will hand you a hospital gown that does not close at the back showing your rear end to all and sundry, and suddenly, you will understand how embarrassing that can be. You will lie in a hospital bed and feel just like the rest of us. When you need a nurse’s help, she might ask you to wait because she is busy with the more seriously ill patients. When your doctor friends follow the same recommendations you have given every single one of your patients in the past, you might begin to feel awful. Things like; ‘Don’t worry, you will soon be out of here. Or, you are getting the best treatment, you know.’ But, after a few days, when your condition persists and you don’t feel that you are being treated well or not being treated at all, you will find it hard to believe that you are simply not getting better. You might consult with some of your colleagues on the outside and be amazed to discover how callous their remarks can be, no matter how well-intentioned. Didn’t you say similar things countless times to your own patients? Oh it can’t be that bad, or, it probably started a while ago and you didn’t notice the symptoms. Don’t be upset, it is rather minor, you know. You should barely be aware that you have this complaint at all. ‘But,’ you probably replied. ‘Minor or not, it is driving me crazy.’ “Oh, it can’t be that bad,’ is what they shoot back at you instead of some tea and sympathy. Maybe a colleague will even dare to say, ‘It’s so minor that it does not even fulfill the criteria for treatment in a hospital.’ But you probably replied. Minor or not, I know how I am feeling!’

 My dear doctor – until this happens to you, you’ll probably have prided yourself on your communication skills with your patients yet here you are, being schooled on what it means to be in a hospital and worse still, without any sympathy whatsoever. And when you recover sufficiently to return to work in your clinic, will you remember that no matter how minor a condition is, it’s painful, frightening, depressing and very real to the person concerned? Have you ever wondered why after giving advice to a patient, he will probably ask; ‘Would you recommend this if your wife were suffering from the same condition, doctor?’

 

 

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