Whenever I take a trip into the hospital, I am struck by all the different ways that people see you, especially when you’re a patient.
Often, people start by seeing you as your diagnosis. Personally, I find that a little annoying, because there’s so much more to me than
I’m more than just heart and lungs, I considered saying to some people during this hospital stay. However, it was difficult for me to say that, because
- I’m pretty polite and
- I was sometimes hooked up to oxygen masks where I could not speak, at all.
Beginning with my many childhood hospital experiences, I’ve noticed that patients can elicit a kind of non-seeing response in others. For some people, it’s like we’re invisible.
I see many reasons for that non-seeing response:
- People are afraid of illness.
- People are afraid of mortality.
- People are very focused on seeing themselves.
It’s important to me that you see that I’m not claiming that everybody who sees me in the hospital doesn’t really see me. Every time I’m a patient, I am also seen by many truly caring professionals.
Speaking of truly caring professionals, Dr. Mark Estes — my cardiologist who’s been seen on this blog before (including here and here) — was surprised to see that I was in the hospital yesterday. I loved seeing him walk into my hospital room yesterday morning, trailed by medical students.
Here’s how Dr. Estes saw me yesterday, in his own words:
- “The most famous and important patient in this hospital.”
- “Able to challenge and stand up to a world-famously difficult and powerful cardiologist.”
- “Never looking better.”
I have to say I found #2 and #4 surprising, since
- I never see myself as intimidating and
- I was sitting in a hospital bed with pneumonia AND heart failure at the time, so I HAVE to believe I’ve looked better.
After Dr. Estes saw me for a helpful discussion of the details of my latest hospital stay, he turned to his medical students and asked them, “What’s the lesson to be learned here?” And here’s how he answered his own question:
Always listen to the patient.
Can you see why I love being seen by Dr. Mark Estes?
Here are some things I saw through my iPhone yesterday:
Now, I hope to see some comments from my patient readers.
Thanks to all for coming by to see me today!