Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bottom of the barrel

I have said before, and I'll say again, medicine is humbling if nothing else.

I take care of a lot of bottom of the barrel patients. No job, no money, no personality, no life skills, no motivation. Sometimes no hygiene. What I am realizing more and more is that a lot of these people have no one in the world that gives a $*&# about them.

It's really sad.

Some of these people are hard to like. Their kids don't like them, their spouse doesn't like them, their neighbors don't like them, their employer doesn't like them. Heck, I don't like them.

But sometimes, I'm the only person in their corner. The only person pulling for them in this great big world.

And so, tho I don't like them, I can still care about them, and what happens to them. I can't fix their odor (tho I try), poverty, or crappy home life. But I think they know that I care, and I think it makes a difference for them.

And I'm humbled by that.


rlbates said...

It's tough sometimes. We want to fix everything, but we can't as you have pointed out. So it's like learning the lessons in the "Serenity Prayer

I'm glad you are in their corner.

The Country Doctor said...

It never ceases to amaze me how one of the most humbling and rewarding parts of the job comes when all you have done is listen and a patient gives you a heart felt "thank you" and a handshake.

Rob said...

Some people get it. It is more circumstance than virtue that separates us and the humble people we see. So many people don't get this, however, and look with contempt. We can hold our breath and not like it, but to say that we would do differently in their shoes totally misses what it means to be in their shoes.

Well done.

Femail doc said...

Dr. S, you often seem to cover the very issues that mark my day. Often, as I view my upcoming schedule, a name or two invariably stands out that makes me inwardly groan, knowing that this person will be whiny, or tedious, or confrontational.

I try during those appointments to remember namaste, the parting shot at the end of yoga classes said with hands pressed together over the heart and accompanied by a low bow.

It means "I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me." That mantra helps me to shed the wild impatience I feel or the urge to look at my watch. Sometimes, however, I have trouble contacting my inner Buddha.

Dr. Smak said...

rlbates - a difficult lesson, to be sure.

Country doc - exactly.

Rob - "It is more circumstance than virtue that separates us and the humble people we see." You put it perfectly.

Femail doc - I suspect your Buddha is hanging out with my Buddha getting jacked up on espresso at Starbucks.

Femail doc said...

The Buddha in me wants to know if the Buddha in you wants a blueberry muffin along with that espresso...