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Dear Doctor,

Before you approach my bed, there are a few things I’d like to say to you. Please know I’m more than that chart of medical terms and lab results that you hold in your hands. I’m a person…a living human being. I was created just as you. I’m the lady working the soup kitchen, and the police officer defending your community. I’m the mother shuttling her children in a zillion different directions and the proud Grandpap at the little league game.

My eyes are able to look at your face and read your expression, so please be sure to make eye contact with me. My ears are able to hear your every word – so let them be truthful and speak clearly so that I will fully understand. And although my emotions seem to jump from one extreme to the next, all I ask is that you are considerate of me and allow me the time to let it all sink in.

Despite the disease that is attacking my body, today I’m alive. I’m someone’s loved one – a son, a daughter, a brother, a sister, a father, a mother, a husband, a wife. So please keep in mind, what you are about to tell me not only affects me, but the branches of my family.

I don’t envy you. But I can empathize with you because I recognize that your job is not always easy. We want to believe that medicine cures all, but that’s simply not true. I know that you took a Hippocratic oath to do no harm, so I ask that you remember that now, and when you offer me – whatever it may be, do me no harm. Whatever you say, I won’t hold it against you – you’re simply the messenger. You aren’t responsible for what ails me now.

Please don’t give me false hope. Don’t order PT when you can see I’m too weak or chemo when in your heart you know instead of doing good, it will hasten my death. What I need now is comfort and quality. I ask that you see me as a whole person – and not a broken one. Please fully explain my options, and let me make my own – informed decision.

I have hopes and dreams, but I realize that I must face reality, and I’m okay with that. You need not use terms that are easy for you – because no matter what, it won’t be easy for me. We’re all going to die one day – this world in which we live is just a temporary stop along the way. Don’t rob me of my time to do what I need to do – just because it’s easier for you.

We all make choices in life. Yours was to be a physician and with that you accepted your role. Fulfill it now. No matter how difficult it is for you, or how hard it will be for me to hear – tell me the truth. No one said life is fair, but we can deal with this together in a mutually respectful way.

Sincerely,

Your patient