Lately I’ve been reading Being Mortal, the book by surgeon Atul Gawande, which talks about how we (and the medical field) can better help people live their last weeks or months. I was moved by this quote from the NYTimes review:
Last and hardly least, Dr. Gawande describes some of his toughest cases, including that of a pregnant 34-year-old with terminal cancer (a tough fighter facing a heartbreaking situation) and a woman whose abdominal troubles prove far more awful than anything the doctor anticipated. By then, he has made a subtle but all-important change in how he answers patients’ terrified questions. Asked ‘Am I going to die?’ his answer could be: ‘No, no, no. Of course not.’ But he learns to say, ‘I am worried.’ That’s a way of being honest, serious and empathetic, showing he is wholly on the patient’s side. It won’t work miracles. But it’s the best a doctor can do.
I read that quote in the fall and it has stuck with me. I’ve had both not-so-great and amazing experiences with doctors, and this recent public discourse about bedside manner, especially surrounding end-of-life care, is inspiring. Very much looking forward to reading more of the book.