Thursday, October 23, 2008
This is the Journal of Clinical Oncology iteration of Magnesium Citrate.
I believe that we begin to earn the gratitude of our patients for saving their lives by what we do before we prescribe any treatment. What is it that we do? We do what the doctor did in this poem. Compared with the new science, it is so ordinary that we lose sight of its importance. We take a careful history. We examine thoroughly. We think before making a diagnosis. Werecommend treatment. We take the time to talk, to explain, and to encourage. We put order into a chaotic situation. We define a way forward. We suggest to the patient that she is not alone. We will fight with her for her life. The threat becomes less imminent; the fear, less intense. Helplessness is reduced; hope is restored. A basis for gratitude is established. It is hard work to do this. It is not hard work to take a history, perform an examination, make a diagnosis, or recommend treatment, but it is hard work to do it carefully and thoughtfully for each patient. It is hard work to respond to the threat felt by each patient. Making what we do personal for patients who fear for their lives takes skin off us. We sometimes fall short. Almost without realizing it, we focus on disease, treatment, and probabilities. We make it less personal. This poem reminds me of the importance of the most basic things that I do. So often what I do seems routine. Often, I just try to get through the day. This poem challenges me to keep it personal.