Thursday, October 4, 2012

To fix, to heal, to love

A tough lesson to learn for the medical student with the hero complex: to heal is not the equivalent to fixing as only one of them truly requires love.

They don't teach about this silly "love" concept in medical school.  As a matter of fact, it's a concept that is easily put out of the mind as the tables and graphs compile into a heaping mound of ways to fix.  We have choices as we go through this large pile of evidence.  We can fix at point A or B or C, never mind if the patient wants it.  I have followed the guidelines, I am fixing, no lawsuit for me!

It is easy to become fixated on the fixing.  It is what we learn how to do in medical school; unfortunately, the art of healing is often forgotten and left to a student's own pursuits and drive during and beyond their formal education.   It's selfish really.  It can become a sense of control for us.  We must be the saviors of the world! If not us, who?  It is narcissistic even.  We are the martyrs of the world giving up our young lives to pursue saving lives.

And how dare you sick patient for not accepting the fixing I am practicing on you! Don't you know how lucky you are to be blessed with such an educated being able to fix you?

Sounds real loving, right?

I learned this lesson deeply this past weekend.  Sometimes the most loving and the most selfless act might be to let go and not intervene because in order for healing to truly occur, patients must choose it.  So often we forget that healing is a choice.  The physician can open the door, but opening the door is the majority of our role in the healing process.  Ultimately, it us up to the  patient to walk through it when they are ready.  Until then, we must wait and relinquish our neurotic compulsion to control the world.  We must let the love and healing start within the patient, for only when one learns to love oneself, can she find herself worth getting up and walking through the door.

Only then, and only when they feel moved to do so, will they walk through, and then we must be waiting on the other side with open arms, without judgement, and without the question, "What took you so long?"

The truth is everyone has their time, and it is devastating to know that some people are self-destructing when the door is open right in front of them.  We can sell the attractiveness of what awaits patients on the other side until we are blue in the face, but we also have to understand that what lies on the other side can be scarier than death to patients. It is the unknown; it is anything but the status quo.  And even though the status quo might be deadly, it also might be comfortable.  It is a form of disingenuous identity they have adopted, but it is theirs, and it is only theirs to change.

This is the hardest thing to do as a friend, a medical student and as a daughter: to let go and relinquish control, to love without the compulsion to fix, and to wait for the healing to begin from the inside.  We know the risks.  We know what can happen when people hit rock bottom, but sometimes it's that rock bottom that propels people to move through the door.  We have to be patient.  I have to be patient.  To love without fixing in order for healing is one of the hardest lessons I'm learning, and I only pray that the work done on the inside to get my loved ones and future patients onto the other side happens before rock bottom becomes a death sentence.

1 comment:

  1. Vicki, I have missed your blog, now I know why... you have a flair for seeing what some people cannot see. :)