Wednesday, May 23, 2007

NY Times Article

Jessica Israel, the chief of geriatrics and palliative medicine at Monmouth Medical Center (Long Branch, N.J.), wrote a great article in the NY Times describing the hard work palliative medicine professionals do.

It is very well written. (Hey we are not always critical here!)

Some of my favorite quotes are:

I knew I had an agenda that night, and I needed to establish trust, to bear witness and not to be thrown out of the room. These three things are always on my mind as a palliative medicine physician.
They cannot be stressed enough as some of the key things that we do. For any hard conversation we have, it is made much easier if we have established trust. It takes time and compassion to establish trust, and it can be lost so quickly. Trust allows us to go to that hard place in life where we go from 'Hi' to 'I'm sorry you are dying.' in 10 minutes. (And then spend then next 90 minutes dealing with the cold reality of life and illness.)

The next one:
One of Madeline’s friends asked me what kind of doctor I was.

“I’m a palliative care doctor,” I replied.

“What is that?”

Madeline answered her, “You don’t want to know.”
We have such trouble defining our profession, but this somehow sums it up even though this is often how we may be introduced, though building trust we can gain respect and appreciation for the support we can bring to the situation.

And the last one:
It (preparing for transplant) was a flurry of phone calls, an excitement that I guess goes along with saving lives. I remember thinking to myself, This is too loud. We need to keep our voices down. This is their last night.
Life is too loud. Hospitals are too loud. Even the hospice house I work at can sometimes get too loud. Ask the nurses, they will tell you I hush them all the time. Peace and quiet takes a lot of hard work, because we are all struggling to have our voices heard in this fast scary world. When it is truly quiet and calm, that can be a great accomplishment. When you are alone in your thoughts when someone you love is dying and all you can hear is the chatter and life at the staff station, I can't imagine that is soothing.

Sorry for the two quick posts, but I still have to catch up to Drew's relentless posting!

Thanks to DB's Medical Rants for the heads up.
Image by Python Tifenn, from NYT

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