Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Letter #4

Dear Future Physician,

First of all, I want to thank you for choosing this difficult and admirable career path. You have the capacity to make a huge difference in people’s lives. You will be able to give hope where there is none, and answerers to critical questions.

My husband was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when he was 14. He grew up in a home where his parents did not teach him how to manage his illness. By the time we got married, his Crohn’s Disease was out of control and in effect, controlling his life and my life. My husband was angry at his Crohn’s disease. He did not want to hear the advice of doctors. Therefore, the job of managing his illness fell to me.

In our search for a good doctor, we met several who were unwilling to listen to our needs. I say “our” because his illness affected not only him, but me as well. I believe that as a physician, it is critical that you listen to the needs of your patient. We met several smart doctors, but the quality of their care left a lot to be desired. Chronic illness, whether it is life threatening or simply chronic, is life changing for the entire family. It is important to realize that sometimes as a physician, you must treat the patient, but you will have to deal with other family members who will be in charge of the care. Please give them the respect that they deserve. Those family members may be just as scared as the patient. They need to develop an alliance with the doctor as well.

We have since found a doctor who does listen to our needs. My husband has finally realized that if you control the illness then it does not control you. Life is good again. But I realize the unpredictable nature of his illness and its potential for serious complications. The time may come where we will once again be faced with new doctors and decisions that we don’t want to make. I can only hope when or if that time comes, we have compassionate, knowledgeable doctors who care about our needs.

I wish you much success in your chosen career path.


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