Sunday, October 29, 2017

Doctors Are People Too

My mom and I like to binge watch Grey's Anatomy. The forty five minute episodes break up the monotony of days spent on the couch. Normally I would refrain from watching a show so oriented around doctors and surgeries. My illness is its own medical drama—just without the on-again-off-again whirlwind romances and lacking the intelligent medical professionals willing to go to great lengths to solve rare disease cases.

Similar to Meredith Gray, I am anything but ordinary. I wish I could say I was an extraordinary surgeon saving lives, but a different perspective will have to suffice. Instead, I am an extraordinary patient. My rare disease is not the norm. With atypical symptomatology, there is not one single blood test or scan that can solve all of my medical problems.

As an extraordinary rare disease patient living in a world with so few extraordinary doctors, it is very easy to allow unceasing frustration to take over. I get so angry at the injustice my fellow patients and I sometimes experience at the hands of doctors. The average doctor does not understand the complexities of diagnoses like mine, nor do they try to. They are there do their job—nothing more, nothing less. If there is no imminent danger, if a patient is not about to die that very second in their presence, most are contented with blissful ignorance. Rather than concern, they pass off arbitrary, judgmental remarks. And worse, they blame the patient by dismissing symptoms on other (usually psychological) matters.

Medical professionals are placed on a pedestal, transformed into gods in draping white coats. They are de-humanized. Consequently, the doctors themselves attempt to hide behind an unfeeling facade. Along with their stethoscope, they never forget their mask of numbed apathy.

Grey's Anatomy, however, prompted the realization that doctors are still people. It is impossible for a human to know everything. I know I do not, so I should not expect them to either. At the end of the day, doctors have emotions. They experience loss and hardship. They also make mistakes. Any idiotic decisions are not out of malice. I do believe that it is never their intention to impose harm. It is simply a result of the stigma that frequently transforms their career into doctoring in a mechanistic, hard fashion.

While that does not justify the wrongdoings of doctors, perhaps I need to cut them some slack. The truly extraordinary doctors are not know-it-alls, but they dedicate their lives to continually learning—admitting that they do not have the answers, yet facilitating their power to try to help anyways. They are the ones brave enough to open their hearts to care for patients and to research what they do not understand.

Extraordinary doctors admit that, like you and me, they are people too.