Spare a thought, shed a tear

In health care, seeing misery, suffering and even death becomes quite commonplace. Doctors, nurses, and dialysis technicians especially see this on a daily basis. People coming in breathless into the dialysis centre, people getting cramps during dialysis, going into hypotension, the needles paining endlessly are all things seen quite commonly in a dialysis centre.

In the beginning, staff working in a dialysis centre and nephrologists probably gets quite upset and tries to do a lot to bring some relief. The first death nearly always shakes them up. Over time however, they would see so much of it that they would become immune to these sights.

Obviously I don't blame them. I myself have become sort of stone-hearted over the years. I remember myself going into a room and crying bitterly when I got to know of a fellow-patient's death. These days, I react much less emotionally.

For the patient and the family, however, the suffering is intense. It can bring about a deluge of emotions apart from the obvious physical stress. They don't see it from a distance. They experience it first hand and there is no such thing as 'getting used to suffering'.

Health care, however mired it may get in spreadsheets, is basically a noble profession. It is therefore important for people in this sector to continue to have an element of compassion in their work. Without this, it all counts for naught. However successful you might be as a doctor, however well you may have done as a nurse, without compassion, you have failed in your basic duty - of caring for another human being.

There are always two ways of looking at something. When you picture yourself in the patient's shoes, compassion will come naturally. Remember, you are not isolated from disease. Just because you are in health care does not mean you won't fall sick. A hospital owner may be diagnosed with a chronic illness. A technician may himself one day need dialysis. So, be kind to the suffering patient. Think of his problems. Realise what she is going through. Don't belittle it. Every individual has a different ability to bear pain and discomfort.

"Therefore, send not to know. 
For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee."


B said…