How to deal with bad days in sorrow.
I am a medical oncologist and believe me it makes my life difficult. Last month was very busy in terms of breaking bad news to patients. It gives me a miserable time. Is it not interesting, though, but one thing is that not always there is patient saying thanks at the end of consult and I want to hear this word ”thanks” when I have broken the worst of news.
Suddenly today I remembered the famous American poet Carver who died of lung cancer because of too much alcohol consumption and heavy smoking. He wrote a beautiful poem about what the doctor has said to him.
“What the Doctor Said,” by Raymond Carver:
He said it doesn’t look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I’m glad I wouldn’t want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I’m real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else
I didn’t catch and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at him
for a minute and he looked back it was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who’d just given me
something no one else on earth had ever given me
I may even have thanked him having being so strong
This is called patient-doctor relationship that we are thanked for breaking sometimes disastrous and miserable news. Life goes on .