Thursday, July 17, 2008

Too tired to write about everything...

But I just want to document this episode for myself in the future, so that I do not lose sight of what medicine is and should be.
Today I fed someone his whole dinner because the guy was disabled enough that it is difficult for him to eat by himself, but he was not disabled enough to require someone to help feed him. He was stuck in this limbo that makes it really excruciating to watch him eat on his own. The funny thing is I don't think I've done anything remotely close to healing until today. As a medical student, I'm useless and mostly counter-productive in the medical system - it only tolerates me because without me there will be no future doctors. The most I can do is to call people for follow-up and look up labs by taking twice as much time as a resident would.
Most doctors would think feeding a patient is a nurse's job, and the nurses are too burnt out and exhausted to sit down and patiently feed him. But I think as so-called "healers", we should be forced to engage in these types of activities that immediately and directly help the patients - most of the medicines and the procedures we prescribe to cure people probably make them sicker than when they walk through the door, so who's to say that these acts of kindness and caring cannot heal better than CT scans and metformin?
I think this whole education process makes us lose sight of what healing really is. Radiologists look at pictures of people's brains and claim that they are healing people without ever speaking to them or touching them - now what kind of healing is that? Other doctors walk in and out of patients' rooms, order tests that cover their organs and disregard other health problems smoldering in other parts of the body - now what kind of healers heal only one organ and not the whole person? The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that nurses or home-aids, who interact with patients directly everday, giving them medicine and wiping their foreheads when they spike a fever, are the true healers in our army of medical personnel.
The guy told me he has never had it this good (us feeding him with patience) and he really appreciates our help. I don't know if I should jump for joy because I made someone happy, or cry because this guy doesn't get the high standard of care he deserves everyday

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