This past week has been a total mind melting experience. Cloudy and cold, too. With my mom’s chemotherapy and subsequent complications, my perspective of medicine has changed again. Forever. Being the patient, or in this case the patient’s daughter and advocate, reminds me how hard it is to sit on the other side of the white coat. Power differentials, hierarchy, miscommunication, communication, laboratories, computers, research, trainees, and simple distance sit between the provider and the patient. They take up all sorts of space.
Invisible yet room-filing.
Above is a photo of my mom directing her chemotherapy. She felt that if she gave the chemo direction (via her powerful words and a Sharpie), the chemo’s accuracy would improve. Got to give her credit. Speaking up (even to your chemotherapy) is always essential in medicine.
It’s, of course, good for all of us doctors to reside on the other side of the white coat. Being vulnerable and dependent on others reminds us all how important it is to speak clearly and with compassion. And to take time to listen to the end of each sentence. Being reminded in palpable personal ways is good for my patients and for me. Sometimes in awkward health-care moments, it feels like I’m eating my medical veggies.
Wish I didn’t have to have this particular brussel sprout served up. But in the zoom in-zoom out of life, we’re extremely fortunate. It remains an utter privilege to help care for and advocate for my mom.
She’s doing fine but we’re all exhausted. Those four corners for my feet remain squarely around me. All of my pulls continue to feel so real —family, my clinic patients, my voice, and my mom.
Good thing is, when you’re a grown up and take on these roles, you gain freedom as well. My night tonight includes hockey, the husband, some basketball, and yes, dinner alone. All grown up, she is, that Seattle Mama Doc. And ready for a bit of a break.
Thank you for all of the kind thoughts and well wishes. More to come next week. My agenda includes Vitamin D, baby slings and all sorts of mutterings. Happy Friday.