I am taking a two month sabbatical to prepare and recover from surgery. Saying goodbye to all my patients brings feelings of loss, renewal, gratitude and of course goodbyes, fears and tears. They fear for me and for themselves. I love them and they love me. Our time together and work is transformational, something significant in our lives that will be hard to replace or go without for two months.
I’d like to take this post to acknowledge the unique opportunity we have had to support each other the past six and a half months. In residency and fellowship, I learned that I was to take care of my patients and they were NOT to take care of me. Care-taking was to be analyzed and reviewed in session and discouraged. Healing occurred in one direction only.
But I have never found this to be true. Ever.
I’ve always felt the deepest gratitude to my patient’s commitment to regular appointments. This is where metamorphosis occurs. And I’ve always felt myself transform and learn whenever I was in the presence of a patient. The honesty in our relationship knows no bounds, is required and refreshing. Even when I was helping with a hold in the time out room and a young patient was trying to spit, I felt profound communication was taking place. I was honored to be the recipient of that entrusted communication, always believing my children’s declarations, verbal and nonverbal.
But the love, generosity of spirit and faith that my patients have instilled in me since my diagnosis has been a free flowing fount of blessings. One adolescent cooked us an Easter cake. Yum! One had a wig delivered the very week of diagnosis. Others sent books or suggested movies. All kept their appointments and believed in my capacity to take care of them even as the infusions continued and my memory diminished slightly. They believe in my strength. The applaud when my bald head converts to fuzz. They commend my “color” and physical stamina. They believe in my cure. They believe I will return to them when I recover from surgery. They believe, love and show me with every appointment that I am important and they need me to be well. And so I add them to list of things I have to live for. We bathe in this and rejoice.
Truly, I don’t think I could have done it without each one of you. Especially in the beginning when I was feeling so overwhelmed and shocked, scared and bewildered. And angry. When I changed every appointment to fit my infusion day, all agreed without any discussion. When I got up on Monday and descended the stairs to my basement office, I was transformed from sick to well, patient to doctor, trusted confidante demonstrating strength to listen and with a few queries, make a difference in their lives. The way my doctors are making such a big difference in mine now.
I don’t really care how many lectures I got in my residency and child fellowship about patients not taking care of their doctors. I don’t believe it because I know it isn’t true.
Thanks you, Dr. Burns