Doctors, Without Borders.
I spent 2 days in the pediatrics unit in the National Heart Institute back in 2014 if i remember correctly, — tagging along a paeds cardio consultant, where i followed her on rounds, to check up on little sick kids.
Among those stops was the pediatrics ICU (Intensive Care Unit), where I first stood by the side of a really, really sick patient. And by really sick, i meant she wasn’t going home anytime soon, she was not going home any more.
The doctor I was shadowing had the job of breaking the news to her parents, news that their daughter wasn’t going to make it and although that was certain, that sadly, was the only part the doctor could be certain off. The timing, not too sure about that. It seems almost cruel does it not? Knowing that her number is up but not knowing exactly when it would be called. It was torture for her parents, and I could say that because I sat in the room together with them and the doctor — and I felt as every bit awkward, and helpless as one could possibly feel.
So thing is, doctors are trained to be desensitised to pain, grief, and loss. They are taught to be stoic because if you were to feel the hurt of every death you were a part of, you would mentally self-implode, I assume. Doctors are taught to have borders with their patient, to never get too caught up in their story and to never feel too much. And I get that, but god, it suddenly struck me that it could somewhat be counterproductive, no? If you were to take away the human-factor during treatment, you take away the main quality a person needs to become a doctor: the ability to care. So doctors are actually so lucky, that with every patient they treat, they inevitably interact with the family of their patients too.
Which means that with every bad and good news they have to deliver to a set of parents about their son or daughter, they remember to hug their children a little tighter when they get back home that night simply because they have been part of a loss and they would not want to have to ever feel that way.
Which means that with every set of news they deliver to a woman or a man with a spouse, they remember to treat their significant others a little better, to love and forgive imperfections a little more.
Which means that with every set of news they deliver to an elderly man or woman, they remember to give their own parents a call no matter how busy they are, simply because the elderly patients in that hospital bed could one day be the very same people who made them, them.
Which means, that ultimately — no matter how mentally and emotionally strong any doctor is, there comes a time where those borders are broken down for a little while and when it does, it’s a good thing because those moments will be all around the place where you work to keep reminding you that the only way for you to be great and not just good, at your job, is to realize the gains and losses that are really at stake.