Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On Treating Chronically Ill Patients: One Physician's Perspective

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One of the excellent blogs on my sidebar, Musings of a Distractible Mind, is penned by a family practice physician. He recently posted an amazing composition entitled A Letter to Patients With Chronic Disease. Here's the opening paragraphs:

Dear Patients:

You have it very hard, much harder than most people understand. Having sat for 16 years listening to the stories, seeing the tiredness in your eyes, hearing you try to describe the indescribable, I have come to understand that I too can’t understand what your lives are like. How do you answer the question, “how do you feel?” when you’ve forgotten what “normal” feels like? How do you deal with all of the people who think you are exaggerating your pain, your emotions, your fatigue? How do you decide when to believe them or when to trust your own body? How do you cope with living a life that won’t let you forget about your frailty, your limits, your mortality?

I can’t imagine.

But I do bring something to the table that you may not know. I do have information that you can’t really understand because of your unique perspective, your battered world. There is something that you need to understand that, while it won’t undo your pain, make your fatigue go away, or lift your emotions, it will help you. It’s information without which you bring yourself more pain than you need suffer; it’s a truth that is a key to getting the help you need much easier than you have in the past. It may not seem important, but trust me, it is.

You scare doctors.

His post is an excellent thought-provoking composition written by a physician who sincerely wants to help his patients. You can read the rest here. He received a flurry of responses, all of which are interesting as well.

1 comment:

annie said...

Julia, thanks for this article. It was a very interesting read. What made it even more so are the comments written by many people touched by chronic illness. Some are truly heartbreaking to read. Every person has a right to be treated humanely and with dignity, and should not have to go through what some of these people have experienced. Not only do people have to struggle to get properly diagnosed, and deal with their debilitating diseases, but they have to deal with ignorance and prejudice also. Where is support for all these sick people, and who are they to turn to for help if the medical community is so indifferent and uninterested in treating them?