Words Can Hurt 
Last night I slept well and woke at 5:00 am, which is later the usual. Early each morning the young resident on floor drops by to see how I am doing, but as this is a teaching hospital the doctors move to new locations on a regular basis and this morning I had a new doctor. So the doctor asks how my night went and how I am feeling, to which I reply fine and fine. Then, with no transition he informs me that if the upcoming bone biopsy goes well that is a good thing, but if it does not, then my odds become much worse. (It was as if he had punched me in the stomach.) 
 
I then make the mistake of asking what happens if the results are not good, and he answers that I will decide if I want to more treatment. I tell him “of course I want more treatment I don’t want to die”. He tells me they can try more experimenal things. I tell him his bedside manner is not great…but  to be honest I am not sure what I mean by this.
So…I cry quietly for an hour or so, but finally pull myself together and when the team of doctors come on morning rounds I speak to them about what happened and how it made me feel. (I was quite eloquent, I think,)
Later I tell this story to my friend Ronnie, whose daughter was cured of cancer at this very hospital. Her response should be memorized and used by all doctors who are asked about treatment options.
 
 
If you ask the doctor, “What is the next step if the current treatment works or doesn’t work”, the doctor should say, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s first see what the results of the current treatment are, and then we can discuss the options and next steps, given those results. It is not useful to speculate about all the possible paths we will take, until we know where we are.”
                                                                                                                              
 
 
 
 
Ronnie’s words of wisdom

I also give you, for your consideration, an article from a recent New York Times entitled: Finding Little Comfort in the Statistics of Survival by Ellen D. Feld, MD (Oct 17, 2011):



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