A covenant between doctor and patient

I mean it is kind of lonely being your doctor. I picture it as sort of a covenant. Between you and I.

On one side you. And your family. And friends. Your house and your dogs. Your communities and lives.

On the other side me. Alone. Of course there is always the hospital, but were really not friends. My partners and specialists. They all make an appearance. But when the going gets tough.

I am like an island. That you inhabit from time to time. Occasionally good times. Often bad. And I pray that there is enough of me to sustain. For there are rarely other visitors. Rarely extra provisions.

My island floats independently in the sea. I face each brutality and hardship with you. But since I am land and you are my inhabitants we often see from very different perspectives.

When you hurt, and suffer, and die. You call. And sometimes from the depths of hibernation I answer. My eyes twitching in the darkness as I try to decide whether to give more lasix or should I try fluids? There is no nephrologist in the bed next to me. No cardiologist. And if there were would they remember the time your shortness of breath was anxiety? Remember the time your anxiety was a heart attack?

You pray that I make the right decision. Did you know that I pray to? Pray that tonight I will be less fallible. Pray that I will remember each piece of imminent minutia. Unlock the bodies tenuous riddles and splay them out in front of you as if they were a healing potion. A soothing balm.

Each covenant ends the same. Either you or I will die. Your suffering over and your family mourning.

And I will remain. Alone. Fighting to provide for the other two thousand inhabitants of my island.

Each one a covenant. Each one signed with a golden quill … signed in my own blood.

Jordan Grumet is an internal medicine physician who blogs at In My Humble Opinion.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/ruth.kivela Ruth E Kivela

    I am a cancer patient: a rare cancer that got missed by my primary care team, unfortunately.  I am so fortunate to have found the “perfect” team of a wonderful oncologist and gastroenterologist that take care of me: got me into remission and continue to monitor me for reoccurance.  Of course as doctors go: these guys are both young: 30 to 40 years old but I absolutely adore them both.  AND I tell them.  Dr. Bernadino and Dr. Johns are now a part of my extended family, bless them both.
    Thank you for your post: it’s a good reminder for us patients that our physicians are human too. You’ve worked so hard to become who you are….. we, most of us appreciate you, care about you…. we are so often so scared in the face of our illnesses that we might forget to let you know how important you are in our lives. Without you, we might not be here and we know that too.  God will get us and you through…… you aren’t alone.  Thank you for being who and what you are.

    • Anonymous

      Ruth, I’m in the same medical boat as you, and share your sentiment toward the doctors who treat us.  I am so appreciative of my doctors too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ruth.kivela Ruth E Kivela

    I am a cancer patient: a rare cancer that got missed by my primary care team, unfortunately.  I am so fortunate to have found the “perfect” team of a wonderful oncologist and gastroenterologist that take care of me: got me into remission and continue to monitor me for reoccurance.  Of course as doctors go: these guys are both young: 30 to 40 years old but I absolutely adore them both.  AND I tell them.  Dr. Bernadino and Dr. Johns are now a part of my extended family, bless them both.Thank you for your post: it’s a good reminder for us patients that our physicians are human too. You’ve worked so hard to become who you are….. we, most of us appreciate you, care about you…. we are so often so scared in the face of our illnesses that we might forget to let you know how important you are in our lives. Without you, we might not be here and we know that too.  God will get us and you through…… you aren’t alone.  Thank you for being who and what you are.

  • http://profiles.google.com/molly.ciliberti Molly Ciliberti

    As an ICU/CCU nurse, I feel as though I am with the patient and their family, and that is my role to care for them to the best of my ability including helping them to find peace even in death. I carry a little piece of them with me forever in my heart.