Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Choices Patients Make

The Choices Patients Make

Published: October 9, 2008

"There are certain choices patients make that I have never understood, choices that from my perspective as a doctor seem to undermine their very chances for survival. Or at least undermine the efforts doctors, nurses and even complete strangers make on their behalf.


There is a taboo in our culture against a sick person, post-transplant or otherwise, being honest about how difficult it is to live with serious illness and to live on the verge of death,” Ms. Silverstein said. “These folks admit to feeling grateful and sad, joyous and angry, optimistic and defeated, all at the same time; yet only half of their emotions are acceptable in the public eye.”

I asked Ms. Silverstein about how she had dealt with such pressure.

“There is no question that I am eternally and profoundly grateful for life and for my good fortune in receiving a donor heart just in the nick of time,” she responded. “But my heart transplant life is a mixed bag, a miracle with a flip side: a wonderful, awful, amazing, terrible existence.”

Then she added, “I have not lived a well day since my surgery — not one — and this is a difficult truth to bear. And sometimes, on the very rare occasion, it wears me down to the point of wondering if the illness and struggle are worth it.”

Marina: Is it that health care practitioners don't want to know about the 'dark' side of treatment? The after effects? The constant pain? The struggle? Do they perceive that they've 'taken care of the problem', so move on?

Your thoughts?

Books on Doctors as Patients and a few on the Doctor-Patient Relationship