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Helping Others through the Synergy of Science and Caring
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« The New Me | Main | Ranting and Healing - Part II »

January 17, 2012


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Bill Kleine

It is a big psychological adjustment from excellent health to chronically ill and incurable. Things I used to be able to do easily before my recurrence of kidney cancer are no longer possible. In my 15 years as a volunteer counselor I have observed that the people who make the kind of adjustment I hope to acheive are focused on what presents to them today. One man jumps to mind. Tom's colon cancer was misdiagnosed as an apendicitis, and that conclusion was not reviesed even though the appendix was fine. When he was finally diagnosed it was terminally in his liver. He refused to blame anyone. Tom was too busy living.

Wendy S. Harpham, MD

Thanks for sharing the bittersweet story of Tom, a man who found the courage and fortitude to accept his lot so he could continue to live as fully as possible under the circumstances.

May his memory help those who knew him -- or know of him -- to live as fully as possible when in unfortunate circumstances.

Deb Konrad

As my doctors have told me....medicine isn't an exact science, that is why it is called the "practice" of medicine. While some patients find this unnerving, I appreciate my doctors honesty, especially after having the first 2 oncologist I saw be less than honest...but some of it was just a lack of knowledge on their parts because my Lymphoma has not behaved "by the book' as they said. That is why as patients we have to advocate for ourselves, change doctors if need be,and move on. Pointing fingers and badmouthing do nothing to help us heal, either physically or emotionally. I have found that this whole experience has probably made me a better patient ( at least I hope so),sometimes it is a personality thing, you just don't mesh with a particular doctor. Not to say that there aren't doctors out there with issues when it comes to relating to patients, but I have found those to be few and far between.

Wendy S. Harpham, MD

Dear Deb,
Thanks for sharing this and emphasizing my point that patients are hurt when they don't respond to justified and understandable anger in ways that help them. With hope, Wendy


In response to your comment that patients say MD's don't care about the patient after treatment... and you say they do...

The problem is that as a patient I don't see what happens after I walk out the door. Instead I see the person whose feet need nailed to the floor so I can ask questions because he is very busy, the person who, a month later, still hasn't ordered the tests he said I needed and no amount of nagging can get that done... I know, on one level he cares, but it can be hard to tell that from the behavior I am on the receiving end of.

Wendy S. Harpham, MD

Dear Liz,

I hear your frustration, anger, disappointment in your comment.

As per the third paragraph of the original post, you are describing problems with this one physician, problems that deserve to be addressed in healing ways (examples of which you'll find in other posts).

You make an important point about patients only seeing what they see. Mutual understanding is the key to healing clinician-patient bonds. It is my hope that the ongoing dialogue on this blog helps the patients and clinicians who subscribe think about ways to improve their communications.

With hope, Wendy

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